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Sunday 21 September 2014

Down memory lane for Martin

Published 09/08/2014 | 00:00

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THE floor at the John Kelly Hall was heaving on Friday night as the ballroom goers of the seventies relived their dancing days.

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The Champions arrived in Rathnure with lead singer Gina for a special gig in the Blackstairs.

The quartet of Mossy Walsh, Pat Walsh, Eddie Fitzgerald and Tony Hornibrook, County Cork, were in Rathnure to honour the memory of the late Martin Codd.

The famous singer and hurler recruited the lads from Ballycotton – then known as the Musketeers – after the original Herdsmen called it a day.

They assumed the mantle of the Herdsmen in 1973 before eventually emerging as the Champions with Gina (real name Mary Walsh) and Dale Haze (real name Gerdie Mackey).

The dance provided a lively opening night for the Martin Codd festival as the four lads showed they have not lost their touch.

Later, members of the original Herdsmen performed in the hall on Saturday night as compere Brendan Maher called up 18 different acts in a special concert.

The marathon kept the audience enthralled from start to finish before the evening was rounded off with a rousing rendition of 'Cuchulainn's Son'.

The line-up included John Codd, Paddy Joyce, Tish Murphy and Martin Codd junior as the Herdsmen.

Martin Codd recalled that he was 13 years of age when he joined his father of the same name on the road back in the sixties.

On this occasion, a third Martin Codd was on stage, with the original Martin's grandson playing the banjo once wielded in the band by the late Peter Farrell.

At one point in the concert, four generations of the clan were in action, with John at the vintage end of the scale while six-year-old Isobelle danced and sang her heart out.

The Codds were not the only family strutting their stuff, with five O'Connor sisters and one brother also putting on an impressive performance. Others in the powerful line-up on the night included Willie Moore, Casey Reddy, Sandy Carr and pianist Imogen Robb, to name but a few.

Sunday's festival highlight was a field day that required several fields, spilling over from the school grounds at Rathnure into the GAA club grounds. Attractions keeping everyone amused included novelty hurling, penalty shoot-outs and a chance to explore The Cube.

And survivors were up early on Saturday to tackle a 10 kilometre hill walk with Himalayan expert Frank Nugent.

The leader of the trail through the Blackstairs was on the peak supporting climber Dawson Stelfox in 1993 when the Ulsterman became the first Irish man to scale Everest.

'I have been walking on the Blackstairs for years,' said the walk leader, whose mother hailed from Ballyhyland in Caim, while his father came from Newbawn.

He promised those who came with him a recreational outing, not too demanding, with everyone home in time for lunch.

'It's a lovely morning,' he declared as he set off, 'and it's great to be out.'

New Ross Standard

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