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Beatlemania Strikes Again In Co. Wexford

 

The Fab Four may be no more but it will never be a case of ‘Hello Goodbye’ to the Liverpudlians as far as members of The Beatles Fan Club Of Ireland are concerned, writes Sean Whelan (who once almost saw the group).

 

LISTEN reader: Do you Want to Know a Secret? Take it From Me to You, it’s Something which can be said without any Help (even a little from my friends) that there’ll never he another group with the same profound impact on popular music as The Beatles.

 

I suppose Tomorrow Never Knows, but for me today’s superstars may go through a Hard Day’s Night in attempting to emulate the loveable moptops of Yesterday, turn Here, There and Everywhere searching for the same magic, and Twist and Shout all they like Now, I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party, but they have a Long and Winding Road before they emulate the Liverpudlian lullaby lads. Yea, Yea, Yea - people can tell the new kids on the block that Baby You’re a Rich Man, but of course we know that Money Can’t Buy Me Love (of their music, that is).

 

Which apart from being a somewhat showy (and, so far, pointless) introduction to this particular story, is also one of the corniest ways of catching the casual reader’s eye (or should that be eyes?)!!! Yes, The Beatles are back, ’though for true devotees, to paraphrase those immortal words, the Merseyside legends never really went away.

 

They certainly haven’t for the fanatical members of Beatles Ireland, the one and only Official Beatles Fan Club in this country whose hundreds of members include fans as distant as the Far East.

 

Formed in November 1993 and with the motto ‘The Beatles live on’, it is twinned with ‘Beatles Scene’, the fan club in the group’s home city in Liverpool. Unlike fan clubs in the heyday of The Beatles, today’s technology means that, via the Internet, the Irish Beatles’ section can now be instantly contacted by people all over the world. Beatles Ireland’s honorary patrons include ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, former Beatles drummer Pete Best, legendary record producer George Martin, John and Cynthia Lennon’s son Julian and former Pacemakers leader Gerry (‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’) Marsden.

 

Co. Wexford was this year’s destination for the annual outing of Dublin-based members of the fan club, when their ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ week-end brought them to the Carne/Our Lady’s Island area, the native heath of Maurice McCarthy, one of several Wexford members of the club.

 

Club President Pete Brennan, a dynamic enthusiast of the Fab Four says that not only will the music of Lennon\McCartney and Co. never die, but that it is as popular today as it ever was, and not just with ‘60s freaks. "We have members as young as three and four in our club" he says, stressing that they are a non-profit-making organisation, principally aiming at keeping The Beatles’ music alive and catering for the group’s die-hard fans.

 

Any money raised at their regular functions or via the sale of the club’s six-times-a-year newsletter goes to Our Lady Of Lourdes Hospital in Crumlin, a cause well known to Wexford.

 

Pete himself was aged four when The Beatles visited Dublin on November 7 1963 playing at the old Adelphi Cinema. Amongst Pete’s treasured collection of Beatles’ memorabilia is one of the original tickets for that gig, costing seven shillings and six pence (around 33p in today’s currency).

 

For the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ stay in Carne, Pete and his merry band used the local ‘Lighthouse’ premises as their base. Amongst their VIP guests was Englishman Geoff Rhind, a classmate of Lennon at Quarrybank grammar school in the 1950s.

 

Rhind has another, even more unique distinction: it was he who took the first photograph of The Quarrymen a famous snap shot featuring the check-shirted musicians playing at a garden fete in Liverpool in 1957, long before they evolved into the Beatles.

 

Geoff, Pete and Co. had a ball on their visit, with their very own musical group belting out all the old Beatles’ numbers. There was also another important aspect to the trip with their aim of promoting any Irish angle to The Beatles’ Story.

 

As is well known former Beatle George Harrison’s grandfather hailed from Co. Wexford, Corah, Ballycarney, Enniscorthy, and theirs George’s ancestral home. Harrison’s great-grandfather was a member of the Ffrench family, whose son (George’s grandfather) emigrated to Liverpool where he worked as a policeman and taxi-driver.

 

On their way home to Dublin from Carne, The Beatles Ireland party stropped off at the house which was the original Ffrench home, and presented an inscribed plaque to the present owners of the property. Pete Brennan says that the ‘Wexford connection’ in The Beatles history is something of which the Irish section of the club is very proud and we would be delighted to see many more people from the Model County join the club.

 

It’s next gig is a Beatles Festival Weekend, to be held in ‘The Castle Inn’ (upstairs) and Vicar Street, Dublin (near Christchurch), on the weekend of November 5th, 7th next. Guests will include former Beatles’ publicist and Mr. Fix-it Alistair Taylor, and ex-Wings guitarist Henry McCullough. A video of the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ to Co. Wexford trip a few weeks back will also be screened.

 

Thirty-three years ago it was a case of so near-yet-so-far from an historic moment for this writer, whilst living in Aston in Birmingham. The Beatles were at their height in early 1966, and I literally bumped into thousands of screaming fans surrounding the old ABC television studios in Aston, where the Beatles were due to appear. I didn’t hang around, and missed the chance to catch a glimpse of popular history.

 

But now I think I’ll Follow the Sun and dust off my old Beatles record collection: as they might say around Enniscorthy, "Strawberry Fields Forever"?

 

By The Wexford People

 

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