Page 8 - Demo
P. 8

    First Published 2018
Neily dresses up like he used to with The Radiant Showband during the swinging 60’s.
Neily ‘The Smith’
‛Fthe soundest man in Kerry’ or over 60 years Neily Dermot and Ned. Over 12midnight was a
Neily & Mary Anne O’Sullivan at home in Killarney. Photo: Don MacMonagle
O’Sullivan has been the years other musicians popular showband time
session. Sometimes there would be only one socket in the hall and we would test it to the limit with all our microphones, amps and speakers.
drove over his precious trombone which lay on the ground rendering it useless. “That was a a expensive gig, I had to buy a new instrument
and spent the next few days hammering out the dents on the front of the van but in all our years that was the only crash, thank God” sighs Neily. On another eventful night they ran out of petrol in Killarney and had to sleep in the van until Hegarty’s Petrol Station opened
‘The Successors’ with Dermot and Ned Flynn along with David Stone and Neily would become their road manager. They were joined during that time by Seanie Fenton,
Pat Doody, Dermot Moynihan, who passed away in October, and John Murphy. Neily reflects on how fortunate he has been to have met and worked with so many great singers and musicians through
a ‘sound man’ in every sense of the word. Either bellowing on the trombone with a showband or ampli- fying the dulcet tones of the master of ceremonies at a gathering, the adopted Killarney man is the ulti- mate sound professional. Neily, ‘The Smith’ as he
is otherwise known grew up the son of a blacksmith Thade and his wife Nell
in the East Kerry village of Scartaglin. He was one of a family of four which included his older sister Anna Mai, brother Gerard and younger brother John A, one of three brothers who would venture into the music industry. His dad played the flute and his mother played the concertina but it was the brass that first attracted the 14 year old.
After learning the scales on the Saxophone he finally mastered the trombone, (a mother’s worst nightmare because of the loud sound). His elder brother Gerard played the Clarinet while his younger brother John A. was a master trumpeter. Such was the noise in the house when they were
kids that their dad would sleep through rehearsals and only woke when they stopped playing.
It was in 1956 that Neily joined his brothers in
the ‘O’ Rahilly Ceili
Band’ and then in 1958 they formed their own band call ‘The Radiant Showband’. Original band members were the three O’Sullivan brothers along with John ’Tailor’ Brosnan and Pat O’Connor. They were joined soon after
joined the band including Denis Vaughan, Sean O’Mahony, Joe Lyne and Ned Buckley. All would become lifelong friends as they settled into their music routine.
in dancehalls across
the country. People
would walk or cycle for miles around to pack
into the ballroom for
their night of fun and romance. The Orient in Barraduff, Vaughan’s
in Ballydesmond, The Carnegie in Kenmare, The Casino in Rathmore, The Wavecrest in Waterville, The Maple in Kilfinnan, The Boathouse in Cappaquin and The Glebe in Killarney, were just some of the venues The Radiant would perform. ‘There was a ritual to it” says Neily. “The hall, packed with people and cigarette smoke, was always full with men lined up on one side and the women at the other side. Once the music started
the romantic ritual began with the man crossing
the floor to ask the
lady for a dance. If she accepted he would have three dances to secure his fate. Waltzes, foxtrots and tangos were some popular dances. At the end of a three number
set he would offer her to join him at the counter
for a Nash’s Lemonade
or Orange. There was no alcohol, just minerals and biscuits for the patrons. If she accepted his advances and shared the drink that probably meant that he was in with a good chance of a date ...” laughs
Neily. The band played
all the hits from Elvis to Sinatra to Jim Reeves but there was always time for a few Irish sets on the maple floors. We played every Sunday night and one or two nights during the week for a four-hour
At the end of the evening they always finished with the same song, ‘Gotta Travel On’ by Billy Grammer.
Elvis was topping the charts, ballrooms were spouting up in every village and the insatiable desire for entertainment was music to the ears of the band of brothers. Neily became lead trombone player and ‘road manager’ responsible for the gear and transport.
Neily bursts into song... I’ve laid around and played around this old town too long
Summer’s almost gone, yes winter’s coming on....
at 8am. The band often performed with visiting famous signers like Bridie Gallagher and Peg Clancy. When The Radiant finished up with their
final gig in The Oscar Ballroom in Castlemaine on St. Patrick’s night 1969 it looked like the end of the road in the music trade for Neily. However in the mid 1970’s Neily took to the road again and formed
the years. Dermot Flynn, who passed away in September this year, had the distinction of being the first singer on stage at the opening of the INEC in 2000 as a warm up band to International singer Charlie Pride.
His first job was to buy a minibus to transport the band and the instruments that was both reliable and inexpensive to
One night on the way to
a gig in Waterville Neily crashed into two cows who were wandering in the middle of the road near Currow. The band had to quickly organise alternative transport and get to the venue. They played the gig but on return to Scartaglin while unloading the vehicles late that night Neily
Neily’s day job was that of a carpenter starting as apprentice with McSweeney’s in Castleisland (1953) and then with The Kings
 by the Flynn brothers,
turn on our electric sign and off we’d go through the hills and valleys of Munster, dressed to the nines in our smart band jackets and trousers and grease swept hair. We looked great and felt great and were ready for road ...” says Neily. As the electric sign on the roof ‘radiated’ for miles fans could see us coming over the hills of Kerry and the excitement began”. Sunday night, 8pm-
run. And so began a
love of all things VW.
“I bought my first VW minibus for £250 from McElligott’s Castleisland, then we made our own backlit sign with the words ‘The Radiant Showband Scartaglin’ After packing the van with musicians, instruments and the sound equipment and before we would turn the ignition switch we’d say a quick prayer, on the instruction of our Mom. We’d start the engine,
in Currow where he

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