Thursday 22 February 2018

Once more with feeling: Paddy's final sax appeal

Liam Collins meets master saxophone and clarinet player Paddy Cole as he prepares for his final benefit for St Luke's

‘COSY’: Paddy Cole will play a final gig in aid of the charity he has supported for years. Photo: David Conachy
‘COSY’: Paddy Cole will play a final gig in aid of the charity he has supported for years. Photo: David Conachy
Liam Collins

Liam Collins

Paddy Cole knows all about doing 'charity' gigs, as do most musicians.

"There was this fellah up in Castleblayney and he was always getting caught by the parish priest or some other big shot for charity gigs. Eventually he got a bit fed up when the local accountant asked him to do something 'for a good cause.'

"Of course I will, but you'll do my books for a year, won't you?" he answered, and he wasn't asked again. Maurice Lynch, who started Paddy in his band in 1960 had another way of dealing with it.

There were a number of bands in the Co Monaghan town at the time and when the priest approached Lynch yet again he told him: "you know the other bands are very jealous that you only ask me to do these concerts for you, they're not happy at all."

"I'm glad you told me Maurice, I won't make that mistake again, I'll make sure everyone gets a turn" and he went off to rope in another band.

The vast majority of musicians don't mind doing 'charity work' but they resent being asked too often - after all very few others give of up a days work for nothing.

But one gig that Paddy Cole has never resented doing is the annual Paddy Cole Music Show in the National Concert Hall in Dublin for the Friends of St Luke's.

He has been doing it for the last 14 years and on Thursday 1 October he will bring down the final curtain on this annual show which has raised over €250,000 for cancer research.

"Everyone is affected by cancer, everybody knows someone who has cancer, or has died from cancer, so it's something I have always been happy to do" he says.

Paddy, or 'Cosy' as he is known in the business, has never been one to blow his own trumpet, but when it comes to this event he is the one who makes the phone calls.

"I'd say they dread hearing 'its Paddy Cole here' because they know what's coming next, but everybody has been very good down through the years, even musicians I hardly know, they just always said 'yes.'"

Paddy was originally asked by Paddy 'Doc' Doherty to help out with St Luke's and continued with Deirdre Hughes who is now the chief fundraiser.

"This year, after 15 years of great shows, it just seemed like the right time to call it a day, but I will of course continue to support them," says the master saxophone and clarinet player, before launching into more stories about musicians and journalists and the various characters he's encountered over more than 50 years in show business.

This year's line-up for the National Concert Hall features the Paddy Cole All Stars, The Kilkennys, Paul Hennessy & Celtic Chique, and you'd never know who else he'll press-gang into this finale before 1 October.

Sunday Independent

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