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Friends and family put on a great ‘show’ for Drogheda legend’s 90th birthday bash

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Harry when he was in the Cotton Mill Boys.

Harry when he was in the Cotton Mill Boys.

Harry Martin (third from left in back row) with the members of the Denver Showband (back) Brendan Crean, Jimmy Watter (front) Noel (Boots) Mooney, Kenny Doyle, Marie (Martin) McCormack, Roy McCormack and Jim (Jazz) Delaney.

Harry Martin (third from left in back row) with the members of the Denver Showband (back) Brendan Crean, Jimmy Watter (front) Noel (Boots) Mooney, Kenny Doyle, Marie (Martin) McCormack, Roy McCormack and Jim (Jazz) Delaney.

Harry Martin celebrating his 90th birthday in The Pheasant with friends Roy McCormick, Larry Rogers, Frankie Cudden, John Leonard, Jim Kavanagh, Noel Mooney and Brendan Crean. Photo: Colin Bell Photography

Harry Martin celebrating his 90th birthday in The Pheasant with friends Roy McCormick, Larry Rogers, Frankie Cudden, John Leonard, Jim Kavanagh, Noel Mooney and Brendan Crean. Photo: Colin Bell Photography

Harry Martin celebrating his 90th birthday in The Pheasant with his wife Gaye. Photo: Colin Bell Photography

Harry Martin celebrating his 90th birthday in The Pheasant with his wife Gaye. Photo: Colin Bell Photography

Harry Martin celebrating his 90th birthday in The Pheasant with friends Shay Tormey and Pat Carolan. Photo: Colin Bell Photography

Harry Martin celebrating his 90th birthday in The Pheasant with friends Shay Tormey and Pat Carolan. Photo: Colin Bell Photography

Noel and Una Mooney at Harry Martin's 90th birthday in The Pheasant. Photo: Colin Bell Photography

Noel and Una Mooney at Harry Martin's 90th birthday in The Pheasant. Photo: Colin Bell Photography

Pat and Martina Bolger at Harry Martin's 90th birthday in The Pheasant. Photo: Colin Bell Photography

Pat and Martina Bolger at Harry Martin's 90th birthday in The Pheasant. Photo: Colin Bell Photography

Harry Martin celebrating his 90th birthday in The Pheasant with his wife Gaye, sons Ricky and Paul and daughters Tricia and Tracey. Photo: Colin Bell Photography

Harry Martin celebrating his 90th birthday in The Pheasant with his wife Gaye, sons Ricky and Paul and daughters Tricia and Tracey. Photo: Colin Bell Photography

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Harry when he was in the Cotton Mill Boys.

droghedaindependent

The cream of Drogheda’s showband scene was out in force on Saturday June 25th, as Harry Martin celebrated his 90th birthday in the Pheasant Pub.

Family, friends and band colleagues gathered to wish the local and national music legend a very happy birthday, and swap stories from the heady days of his hugely successful career in the entertainment industry.

"It was a fantastic night and there were so many there to celebrate, it was unbelievable, “ says Harry, who is still sporting his trademark moustache. "All my old pals were there, as well as my own family, and to see five of my grandchildren on stage playing made me so proud."

One of Ireland’s best known musicians and entertainers, Harry is married to Gaye (nee Taylor), who also had a long and distinguished career with the Bailey Show and Drogheda Pantomime Society as a seamstress.

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Pals from Harry’s time with The Denver Showband, The Martin Showband and the Viceroys were there, including Roy McCormick, Larry Rogers, Frankie Cudden, John Leonard, Jim Kavanagh, Noel Mooney and Brendan Crean.

“He had a fantastic time, and we couldn’t keep it a secret from him, as he us just too nosy,” laughs Gaye, who has been married to Harry for over 60 years. “He has so many relations too, and the memories and chat were flowing.”

Harry and Gaye have four children Ricky (of Ricky and Phil fame), Paul, Trisha and Tracy (who owns Kidkast), and they have 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. 

"There was a fine turnout of musicians, as Dad was a musician all his life, and toured the country with the Martin Show before settling in Drogheda in 1963,” says Tracy, who has continued the legacy with her own background in dance, and all her children too.

"He was delighted to see everyone, especially after the past two years, and cousins were able to travel for the first time in a long time.”

Harry began his musical journey with a touring variety troupe called the Harry Martin Show, performing around the country before settling in Drogheda in 1963.

Gaye was just 19 when they married, while he was eight years older.

Local author and musician Harry O’Reilly tells Harry’s rich and varied story in his book ‘Play it again Paddy’, and has some fantastic photos of Harry in his heyday.

"I’ve known him since he was 14, and I even entered a talent contest in the Old Savoy Cinema in Fair Street where they were playing,” recalls Harry O’Reilly. “The first band to emerge from the Martin Show was called the Martin Family Showband (later becoming the Martones), with Harry being joined by Gerry Farrell, Ray McCormack, Kenny Doyle, Larry Doyle and later Harry’s sister Marie.”

In 1964, this band joined with the Viceroys to form the popular Denver Showband, with Brendan Crean, Jimmy Watters, Noel Mooney and Jim Delaney completing the line-up.

Along with a successful solo career, Harry also sang with the Cotton Mill Boys , as well as with Eamon Campbell of the Dubliners fame in The Country Gents.

"He’s a great age, and I'm reminded of a story now that he is 90,” says Harry O’Reilly with a smile. “I hear he and some of his mates were engaged to play at the Millennium celebrations. On arriving, one of the boys asked Harry how much he has charged for the gig.

"His reply was ‘I don’t know yet, how much did we charge for the last Millennium gig?!”

Happy Birthday Harry! 


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