I know I was extremely fortunate to have that whole experience under my belt but it was a difficult business and not all sunshine. The work in Ireland was one night stands. One night in Belfast, the next could be in Dublin and so on. The easiest part of the job was performing on stage. What a joy! The thrill, the glamour, the enthusiasm from the fans. At the end of a dance the crowd would come around the stage for a chat. Such was the personal nature of the business. We would hand out photos of the band, which we had to sign and answer all kinds of questions - tell them your name, where you came from.
In those days there were no “roadies” so you packed the gear, loaded the band wagon and returned to base which could be 50, 100 or 250 miles. You lived out of a suitcase and travelled, slept and ate with the other members of the band.
Dad retired from the stage when I was eighteen so I stepped into his shoes as band leader. That was very difficult period for me. Now I had to “call the shots” and overnight my popularity rating quickly diminished with the boys in the band. On reflection, I sometimes feel I was too young to be in that position and that is the one aspect of the business which I did not enjoy. However, the reality was I had six years experience on the road and musically I was more then capable to lead the band.
In ’73 I bought a little pub on the outskirts of my home town of Ballina and called it “The Riverboat Inn”. I built it up over the years and it became home for Jean and I and our six children. It was a success from the start and we won 22 National, Provincial and County awards.The Riverboat became famous for its Jazz sessions where “The Head” came back from retirement and rediscovered himself much to the great pleasure of his many admirers.Suddenly and unexpectedly, he died on the 6th of May ’97 just two days after his 85th birthday. Needless to say, this came as a great surprise to all, but in hindsight, I believe it was the best way. He would not have made a good patient if he suffered a long illness. I believe good men should die with their pride and dignity intact.