Friday 31 October 2014

Ireland always No.1 for the Fab Four

The Beatles arrive at Dublin Airport

It's a half-century since The Beatles released their first chart topper. Ed Power looks at their love affair with the Emerald Isle

It was 50 years ago today . . . that The Beatles released their very first single, 'Love Me Do'. Four scrappy ragamuffins from deepest Merseyside, within a few months they were global superstars, unable to venture out in public without being mobbed and mauled by hysterical fans.

A half-century on, the anniversary will be marked in Liverpool as thousands gather at Albert Dock for a tilt at the Guinness World Record for biggest mass singalong.

The origins of 'Love Me Do' go back to the late 50s, when Paul McCartney was still at school. Or at least he was supposed to be.

An errant student, he wrote the song while playing truant at age 16. Later, John Lennon added the middle section, as well as that lilting 'dockside' harmonica.

Three different versions of 'Love Me Do' were recorded,the first using original drummer Pete Best. For the second session, Ringo Star manned the drumkit.

The rest, truly, is rock-and-roll history, as the single duly went into the top 20 in Britain and, two years later, was a smash all over again in the US.

One aspect of the Beatles story that is not well examined is their long-standing relationship with Ireland.

As with any average Merseysider, several of the band can claim at least some Irish roots and their love of the country was long-standing and heartfelt.

It's a love affair that continues to this day. Paul McCartney is a regular visitor and has been spotted taking contemplative walks in St Stephen's Green, all alone except for his thoughts and the pigeons.

He has also performed two recent sell-out shows here, in 2009 and 2010, staying on stage for nearly three hours on both occasions.

Here, then, is a roll-call of the more interesting Beatles connections to the 'old sod'.

George Harrison's family roots go back to Wexford. His grandfather on his mother's side was from near Enniscorthy and emigrated to Liverpool in the late 19th Century where he joined the police.

Harrison had relatives in Drumcondra and, in his childhood, visited Dublin with his mother on many occasions. Some of his fondest childhood memories, he later said, were of walking on Malahide beach.

Visiting Dublin this summer, Lennon's widow Yoko Ono attested to his love for Ireland. "My husband was 100pc Irish. That's what he used to say. Ireland was sort of like an auntie or a mother that he wanted to show me".

Macca can trace his Celtic heritage to his maternal grandfather and his paternal great-grandfather.

On his mother's side, the family origins go back to Monaghan so it was perhaps not a coincidence that when he married Heather Mills in 2002 it was at Castle Leslie at Glaslough, several miles from Monaghan Town.

Irish Independent

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