The legendary Irish trad band Stockton’s Wing appeared in concert at Kilfenora’s 2018 Traditional Music festival on 28 April 2018.
Traditional music lovers hardly need any introduction to Stockton’s Wing and the band’s 40 year history, but you’ll find a brief synopisis further down this page.
Guesting with Stockton’s Wing was singer, flute and whistle-player Katie Theasby -London-born but who grew up and resides in the Kilfenora parish. She got her love of singing from her mother and an early baptism of Irish music from her late father, Paul, who played in London with Dingle Spike and later with the Kilfenora Céilí Band. She had an early start, playing when 14 with the band Alias Ron Kavana at the Glastonbury Festival. She has collaborated with many other musicians on stage and in sessions, including Paddy Keenan and Finbar Furey. Katie’s 2017 rendition if Finbar’s composition “I Remember You Singing this Song” is highly popular on You Tube, Clare FM and increasingly on national radio. She is working on her first solo CD.
In addition, each year the Kilfenora Trad Festival featured in its main concert the winner of a prize at Garry Shannon’s renowned Meitheal summer school. This year’s winner is Joseph Mannion (13), from the Dungarvan Comhaltas branch, Co Waterford. Joseph has consistently won Under-12 competitions at Waterford, Munster and All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil levels on accordion, melodeon and bodhran. In 2017 he stepped up to the 12-15 level, and at the Fleadh Cheoil in Ennis he achieved second place in both accordion and melodeon and won the bodhran competition.
The band was formed in 1977 by four All-Ireland winners – Paul Roche (flute, whistles), Keiran Hanrahan (banjo), Maurice Lennon (fiddle) and Tommy Hayes (percussion), with Tony Cullinan on guitar and vocals. The band took their name from lyrics in the Bruce Springsteen song ‘Backstreets’. Their career started with a bang when they won the traditional section of a Guinness sponsored talent competition in Limerick. (The rock section was won by a little-known group from Mount Temple School, called U2!)
Their first album was released in 1978, and their second (‘Take a Chance’) in 1980 when Mike Hanrahan replaced Tony Callinan. Shortly after, the famous Irish-Australian Steve Cooney joined on bass, guitar and didgeridoo.
Their third album ‘Light in the Western Sky’ – like the others, produced by Kilnaboy native PJ Curtis – included the song ‘Beautiful Affair’, voted no 7 in the top 20 all-time best Irish songs by Today FM listeners. By this stage their repertoire had become more innovative and contemporary, but still anchored deep in traditional music.
They went on to tour the world, with various band member changes over the years, and released 12 albums in total (and had several top 10 Irish singles) including ‘Take One’ – a live album produced in 1988 by Bill Whelan – and ‘Letting Go’ in 1995. In this era, among famous artists they shared a stage with were Sammy Davis Jr and two nights with Michael Jackson in Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
In 2003 the band staged a memorable re-union concert in the West County Hotel in Ennis, including original members Kieran Hanrahan – now also a well-known figure on RTE radio and producer of several Kilfenora Céilí Band CDs – and Maurice Lennon.
Since then they have continued to perform intermittently, including celebrating their 40th anniversary with a tour in 2017 and an appearance at the Fleadh Cheoil back at the West County.
The 2018 touring band features long-standing members Paul Roche, Mike Hanrahan and Tommy Hayes plus guitarist Paul McSherry from Antrim and two talented young Clare musicians – Karol Lynch (banjo, mandolin) and Tara Breen (fiddle.) Tara should be known to Kilfenora music-lovers as a past alternate member of the Kilfenora Céilí Band and also for her recent tours with The Chieftans.