Castlebar, the town i wanted to loathe in the nineties

Castlebar, well what can i say about my hometown, i could probably nearly write a full length novel about some of the stories i have encountered both as a spectator and a promoter down through the years. In my youth i wanted to break out and travel at a very early age. Having long hair and listening to Rock music and having no real interest in sport was a “no no” in the area. But I wanted to be free, at times i felt i didn’t fit in. Looking back now, growing up the area it was one of the best times of my life.

I have a feeling that maybe i have told this story on so many levels before but i feel like maybe discussing it again this from a different angle. But this time i want to go back to the nineties in Castlebar

In the summer of 1992 i began attending the local discos that took place at St Gerald’s Social Club based on Charles street across the street from the catholic church in Castlebar.

The popular Rock act Halyard performed on Friday nights in The Humbert in the late nineties, With thanks to Ca Kennedy and Karen Conway for the photo. Photo lifted from The Humbert Inn Reunion Facebook page

At that time if i remember correctly the events in the club were organised by Brendan Silke and Malcolm Quigley. I attended the discos so often that summer that eventually i was approached to do work on the door and stand in and do a bit of DJing early in the night whilst we waited for the main DJ to arrive and take to the stage.

“Where’s me jumper”…My good friend Andy Linane doing his best Steve McQueen impression and myself in The Humbert Inn on Christmas Eve 1998

Back then it was young “bushy” red headed man that pretty much was the spitting image of Channel 4 presenter Chris Evan called Tony Gallagher who later went on to gain the name “Mr Techno”, Tony could have been Chris’s doppleganer!! Tony later that year went on to form the cult radio station that became locally known as Kiss Fm from 1992-1993.

Just one of the many promotional slips for Kiss-95FM the pirate radio station which aired in Castlebar from 1992-1993 courtesy of Tony Gallagher and the Kiss Fm Facebook page

Back in those days the slow set was a big deal, Roxette and Bryan Adams was usually the choice of tunes, on the dance floor the guys were separated on the left hand side of the room and the ladies on the right.

It would usually take a friend of a friend to approach the ladies to see if they were interested in shifting their mate across the dance floor or if they were interested in a slow dance.

The live music scene was bustling with live bands on the main street, The Cellar Bar was the regular hang out if you were a Rocker or a mod. Back then The Cellar bar was made of cobble stone walls and a cobble stone floor much like The Humbert Inn in later years. The band name i came remember from back in the day were called “The Icabods” headed by Colin Peyton , Uncle Fuzz headed by Mick Sheridan, Paul (Manogs) Mannion, Ger Staunton and Keith Fadden.

In the mid to late nineties Stalky’s Bar became a local of mine, i was still underage at the time 15 or 16 and i always looked a lot older for my age so i would regularly pass for 18 or 19. Long hair and the grunge look was definitely the style of choice.

Back in those days there was several different bars that used to put on live music, these included Flannelly’s bar, The Humbert Inn, The Cellar Bar, The County Bar, and even the Imperial Hotel on the Mall in Castlebar.

In the late nineties i became more and more influenced and decided to call The Humbert Inn my local. Several rock bands and artists made their name in The Humbert, bands such Hammer Duck, Halyard, Uncle Fuzz, The Marbles Electric Messiah, Purge amongst many even Mary Black started out there in the early 70s. I am sure there bands i have left out here and my apologies if it is so.

It was a great time to be growing in Castlebar, local promoter Webster Macneely had a very successful night in the TF Royal Theatre called Brasilia and The Blue Room, The Rave scene was also thriving in Mayo thanks to Webster which saw many young punters from around Mayo and further afield come to Castlebar.

Hundreds and we mean hundreds (by no exaggeration) of people would travel to Castlebar especially for these events and ques the size of my arm would line up outside the TF on a Friday and Saturday night to get in. Competition between the TF and the Welcome Inn Hotel was healthy on both sides.

Dance acts such as The Prodigy played a show here in the nineties just before Music for The Jilted Generation was release. If i remember correctly there was so many different styles and gangs, the mods, the rockers and the ravers, even Cure heads. It was almost a cult for a while. You had to take a side.

From speaking personally and maybe like so many others who grew in the area i have great memories of a lot more innocent time from a town that has a great history that we should all be really proud of. Everybody i came to know since then and now has provided some form of input in creating a healthy live music scene.

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  1. After the Cellar Bar Closed I had a band for a year or so Called Dr. Blue along with The Icabods we used to play in the County Bar beside the old cinema. Then there was Uncle Fuzz and The Humbert days started. I’ll never forget the nights I’ve had playing with Uncle Fuzz and a Ballyfermot outfit called The Freaksters in the TF’s Blue Room. Fantastic memories.

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