Radio Documentary celebrating the oldest band in Ireland
In our latest Documentary on Newstalk, Producer Patricia Baker tells the story of the oldest band in Ireland...
Broadcasting Sunday May 19th at 7am & Saturday May 25th at 9pm,
A Hidden Fanfare is the story of St. James’s Brass and Reed Band, a band that has been playing music in Ireland for over two centuries. They have been present at key points in Ireland’s history but their own story has lain hidden, until now.
St. James’s Brass and Reed Band is the oldest band in Ireland, and they still play. The secret of the band’s unbroken tradition and survival is entirely due to service of its members. At its core is a group of people who are passionate about their music, who play as a family, and who have lovingly kept the tradition on through generations. This is the story of a band that has marched through the history of modern Ireland, and continues to play on.
"The band was invited to head the cortege of Michael Collins, that was a real honour. The real history is where the State was a going through a traumatic time and the band was involved in a lot of things. For instance, they were printing the Proclamation in the cellar of the old Liberty Hall. It was realised that those old printing presses were a bit noisy. The troops of the Crown might hear this going on. They didn't know what they were going to do to off-set that. Commander Michael Mallon, who was a well known man in the troubled times, was also a flutist who attended here, he’d play with the band on occasion. They decided they would get St James’s Band down to do a concert, in Liberty Hall, and play as loud as they could, and the printing press could go on. On Easter Sunday morning, out came the Proclamation. Some time later the band was rehearsing, and up came a truck load of British army soldiers and arrested the whole band. It was believed that the charge was ‘playing music non becoming of the King’.’
Tom Tyrell, Musical Director of St James’s Brass and Reed Band
‘Because some of the members are there for so long, I think everyone grows together, it is like a family.’
Dara Noonan: St James’s Brass and Reed Band
‘It is the people you play with, they are easy to get on with and there is a big age difference, it goes from a 13 year old to an 80 year old.’
Lucy O’Brien: St James’s Brass and Reed Band
‘It is a well-being programme. It is like as if we go into a cocoon and the door closes, and the band-master picks up the stick, and that is it, we are in a zone, lost in the music.’
John Farrell: St James’s Brass and Reed Band
‘The only one who was here before me was John Gannon, he was in the Guinness book of records for the longest serving member of a band. He started in 1932 and he was 82 years a member of the band. He got a good send off from the band. We played at his mass at his graveside. I started as a ten year old, in St. Agnes’s Band in Crumlin. When I was 16 I left and went to St. James’s Brass and Reed Band. I was keen enough to go to James’s as it was a real band, so if you wanted to come up here, you had to come up to scratch, and start practicing more. That was 64 years ago. I have never stopped since, and some day I will probably make a good player.’
Bob Wherity: St James’s Brass and Reed Band
BROADCAST TIMES: A Hidden Fanfare will air on Newstalk 106 – 108FM on Sunday May 19th at 7am, repeat broadcast on Saturday May 25th at 9pm
PODCAST: Podcast will be available for download from www.newstalk.com after the broadcast.
CREDITS: A Hidden Fanfare is a Curious Broadcast production funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television License Fee. It was narrated and produced by Patricia Baker, with edit and final mix by Gerry Horan at Contact Studio. The music was by the St James’s Brass and Reed Band.
Sound and Vision is a funding scheme for television and radio that provides funding in support of high quality programmes on Irish culture, heritage and experience, and programmes to improve adult literacy. The scheme is managed by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
Curious Broadcast is an arts-based broadcast studio that creates a space for innovation and cultural experimentation across all sectors. Curious Broadcast is based in Inchicore, Dublin 8.