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Article reproduced with permission from The Roscommon Herald,Wed June 20, 2001

Jivenaires swish down musical memory lane

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The Jivenaires’, pictured performing in the Metropole, London, during the 1960. (L-R): Sean Kenny, Boyle; Liam Conroy, Felton, Boyle (now Dublin); Pat Feely, Greatmeadow, Boyle (RIP); Ritchie McCaffrey, Mullingar (now Longford); Evelyn O’Mara, Tarmon, Boyle (now Italy); Danny Murray, Mullingar and Pat Hoye, Mullingar (now Boston).
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The original Jivenaires line up, pictured in 1961, at St Joseph’s Hall, Boyle, which included: Sean Kenny, Michael Kennedy, Liam Conroy, Danny Murray, Pat Feely (RIP), Christy Regan, Evelyn O’Mara.

People throughout County Roscommon will remember with fondness a bunch of eager eyed and tuneful locally-based musicians plying their trade with a showband called ‘The Jivenaires’ during the 1960s. Two members of this long disbanded showband, Pat Hoye of Mullingar and Sean Kenny of Boyle, recently paid a visit to the Roscommon Herald and took a tuneful trip down their collective musical memory lane.

By Paul Gunning

With little money coming in, the showband lived in the hope of making the big break and securing a record deal. Opportunity knocked on fame’s door once when they recorded a number of songs in London with Elton John’s producer, Bernie Topping. The band members went on to enjoy considerable success in the music business and went their separate ways in the late 1960s.

Now domiciled in Boston, USA, Pat enjoyed meeting up with old friends and seeing familiar places throughout the West and Midlands, while he stayed with his former band member, Frank ‘Monty’ Montgomery in Forest View, Boyle. With a hectic schedule of gigs in and around Boston, Pat Hoye took a month out to chill out and revisit the ‘auld sod’.

Back in the early 1960s, ‘The Jivenaires’ were founded and included: Andrew McKeon, Pat Feely, Christie Regan, Evelyn O’Meara, Danny Murray, Liam Conroy. Boyle’s equivalent of ‘The Cavern’, was at the Tennis Pavilion, belonging to the Catholic Club (near the now the Family Life Centre), where they began to perform.

Memories of people and places flooded back as the two musicians reminisced about the likes of Pat Feely (RIP) of Greatmeadow, Boyle and the jiving in dance-halls. In those heady days of the 1960s, the Jivenaires played a wide selection of venues including many outdoor carnivals. Playing covers that were produced by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Stevie Winwood and The Who, The Jivenaires received plenty of positive publicity when the late RTE great, Brendan O’Reilly, got the band a slot on ‘The Showband Show’.

Not content with regurgitating the hits of the day, the band performed their own material and Boyle song-writer, Gay McKeon was a popular scribe. Both Sean and Pat remember one tune in particular, entitled ‘The Need’, penned by Mr McKeon. The band got a good response from audiences when this number was thumped out.

Along with packing out venues across County Roscommon, from St Joseph’s Hall, Boyle to Gorthaganny and Lisacul to name just a few places, the band entertained crowds in Dublin and the South-East and travelled the length and breath of England.

When preparing for his recent trip to County Roscommon, Pat happened upon a once forgotten and dusty memento of the Jivenaire’s which slipped out by good fortune from some files the Mullingar-man was searching through. The picture showed the band playing a Roscommon Men’s Association’s function at London’s Metropole.

The name of the agent, Ml J. Devine, Ealing, London, brought back memories of the latter’s brother, Willie Devine — who was The Jivenaires agent and manager, now a solicitor in Dublin. Michael has since returned to live in Boyle. Willie Devine was their main administration man and brought the eager young hopefuls around the country from gig to gig.

However, during 1967, better known as ‘The Summer of Love’, Pat’s passionate affair with music saw him leaving Boyle and travelling to Athenry to play with the ‘Swing Time Aces’ — who, for those interested, Pat advises have a terrific web-site. He then went on to play with Joe Dolan and the Drifters for 13 years, before emigrating to the USA where he took a Degree in Music at Boston’s legendary Berk Lee College in the late 1970s. Returning to Ireland, he travelled with Joe Dolan’s band to South Africa, before living in the Emerald Isle until 1985 whereupon he took up residence in the US.

Performing an eclectic mixture of rock, pop, blues, country, jazz and Irish music, Pat enjoys the career of a full-time musician in Boston.

When The Jivenaires, as a musical force, came to an end, Boyle native, Sean Kenny played with a host of other bands and was employed as a full time musician up until 1984. He still performs a one man show in Boyle which he thoroughly enjoys.

Fond memories of their relatively frugal existence during the 1960s were recalled and Pat thanks Sean’s family for keeping many of the Jivenaires in the Kenny household. Sean Kenny’s father was a driver with the Roscommon Herald, while Mrs Kenny was often left with the job of driving away many an excited school-girls, or “pates” as she termed them, from the Kenny’s front-garden gate at Marion Road.

Another humorous anecdote has a strong connection with the Roscommon Herald, this time in the shape of well known photographer Christy Regan, Green Street, Boyle, who played with the band for a time. Pat, who stands at well over six feet tall, assumed responsibility as bassist when Christy left The Jivenaires. Before Mr Hoye’s first gig with the Boyle combo he was given Christy Regan’s outfit. Desperate remedial action was taken when fitting out the new bassist’s snazzy pants, and having gone to a Boyle tailor, the innovative craftsman tagged about eight inches of red material to the bottom of the trousers — much to the eternal embarrassment of Pat Hoye.

Thanking the people of Boyle for being so good to them during the 1960s, Pat and Sean hope the showband audiences of yesteryear will hold fond their happy memories of the time when The Jivenaires ruled the dance-floors in County Roscommon.

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