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16 October 2014
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"Month of Sun Days" - Your Responses

"Back in the mid to late 60's I was part of the seaside variety bandstand show, six nights a week, for the summer season.

Co Down

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Your Newcastle memories

Ray Joiner - June '08

I was in Ballykinler in the army green jackets we used 2 go 2 Newcastle every night to a little cafe by the promanard. Great times lovely place. In 1958 -2 -1960 we used to go into the church hall for dances and pictures. Met some lovely people there. Great times. Never been back. I will 1 day. I dream about it great seaside place for golf.

Billy Walker - Mar '07
I remember traveling to Newcastle on one of the last trains. No idea of year. Just remember arriving at the station. Many years later, I found myself living in Tullybranigan. A man I met in the Wilmar (now O'Hares) who was a retired railwayman. Glad to see the back of 'filthy steam.' No nostalgia there then!

Brendan Crossey - Feb '07
I am interested in the article about Lee Parker and the vibratones. My father came from Belfast and passed away in 1969. He made regular visits back to Belfast in the sixties .Once, he returned with a photograph of Lee Parker and the vibratones that he received from his cousin, Gretta McLaughlin, the mother, I assume of two of the band. I still have the photograph somewhere in my house and have been searching high and low since I came across your site. Brings back a lot of memories, only visited Belfast twice when I was really young, 1960's, early to visit my aunts and uncles, mostly Burns, my mothers side of the family, as my dad was orphanedwhen in 1918 his father died at the Battle of the Ancre, 1916, when he was only weeks old. His mother died two years later. I have recently become interested in genealogy and realise that I must be related to the Mclaughlins through my father - Hugh Crossey. I would like to know how they are now, and promise to find the photograph for Sinead. Thanks for your site .


Mike Niblett - Nov '06
(FAO) Ciara Cunningham,
Ciara apologies for the late reply (having only revisited this site at this date) If you have a e-mail address, please mail me and I can send you copies. For the record George (Lee) Parker is now living in England, and also another George, George Garford aka Tony G.Ford and the Seekers. The same Tony who earlier played with the Telstars is living near Bangor and is still performing. If you do not wish to send an e-mail, please leave a message at where i can publish the pics without blocking if needed, and from there you need only copy and paste into microsoft page editor,Mike.

Ciara Cunningham - April '06
FAO Mike Niblett How can I get copies of the pics you have of the vibratones?

Sylvia Young - Dec '05
This took me back to the great days of the sixties and happy times in newcastle, my favourite groups were Lee Parker & the Vibratones and Tony & the Telstars who were both regulars at the bandstand. Thank you all for the memories, Sylvia Young

Vanessa Wasson Bass - October '05
I used to go to Newcastle when I was in my early teens and I was en route to visit my Aunt Jean and cousins in Kilkeel. A stopping in Newcastle was always a plus. I always wanted to go to the beach -"no time"- and visit the shops- "next time" - so I invariably left frustrated until we arrived at Kilkeel.

I now live in Canada but visited Newcastle two weeks ago. The beach was deserted and a rough sea was coming in. The shops were closed except for a cafe where we had coffee ( and wondered if the holes in the windows were made by bullets or were as a result of the construction of a seawall that was taking place around the river).

Is Conor Bradley the same one who went to Queen's in the 60"s I wonder.

Maria - July '05
Me myself being 15 at the moment love NewCastle, as it has my favourite things in it! Sun, Sea, Beach and Amusements (and my boyfriend lol.) It is a lovely place apart from the mindless youth graffiting !!!!!

Mike Niblett - February '05
My apologies to Paddy Garland, and Sean Boden, both members of The Vibrolas. I simply forgot to add their names. The Vibrolas would later become The New County, as (the late) Big Ivan's backing band. For Sinead McLaughlin's request about The Vibratones, I have several pics loaned to me for scanning (with permission) from Felton Williamson. For Gerry and Sheila, Felton has provided me a promo pic as well, Mike.

Sinead McLaughlin - November '04
I would be interested to know if anyone had any footage, cinefilm or photographs of the Vibratones. I would just like to see Nick when he didn't play as well!

Bob Neilans - June 2004
We went to Newcastle every year for the annual school excursion - initially on the train from Downpatrick but that must have shut down about 1949 or 50 as after that it was by bus.
You could go on rowing boats on the lake or go round the amusement arcade (so long as the money held out) or go on the beach. I remember the Pierrots - endless entertainment as you walked along the promenade. When I went to St Patricks High I got a summer job at the Slieve Donard Hotel in the kitchens (Beefy Thompson organised that for me) but I didn't stick it for long - I always remember a wall of pressure cookers and each one with a lobster in. The head chef was a great chap and he sympathised when I said I didn't want to work there any more.

Tony Bannon - May 2004

I remember Sheila and Gerry being a very entertaining duo and I have also had the pleasure of being in different bands and playing at one time or another with every member of the Vibrolass except Mr Boden (who taught me to drive and we spent many a happy hour discussing music) and Paddy Garland. I also remember there used to be an 'opportunity knocks' type talent contest where the winner was picked by audience acclaim.
Dinky and Liam's twin sons David and Gerard have both gone onto illustrious careers in the TV and music industries as well respected producers. As for the fish and chips Sean talks about from the Broadway, chances were that my late father Brendan would have cooked them for him!
My first apperance on stage performing was at the Pierrots and I have very fond and happy memories of those times. As for the Central Ballroom not getting the popular showbands in the late sixties and early seventies (before the dancehalls died out). I recall seeing in no particular order Dickie Rock and the Miami, Big Tom and the Mainliners, Candy, Sunshine, the Gentry, The Plattermen, The Freshmen, Tony Kenny and the Sands, The Miami (after Dickie Rock went solo) Dickie's Band, The new Clipper Carlton, Johnnie McEvoy, Frankie McBride and the Polka Dots, Chips (featuring future Eurovision winner Linda Martin) and many others who were regarded as the "STARS of the Scene and last, but by no means least, the Newry based Hilton Showband featuring none other than Mr Sean Boden on saxophone!

Gerry McCrudden

"Back in the mid to late 60's I was part of the seaside variety bandstand show, six nights a week, for the summer season. The show was headlined by a couple named Liam and Dinky Heffernan and featured a local lady by the name of Ivy Livingstone. I was part of 'Sheila and Gerry', a singing duo and had the best time of my life for, I think, at least six seasons.

Newcastle, Co Down

We also featured a great band from Castlewellan, a group of brothers, but I can't for the life of me remember their names. We paid for the show with contributions from the audience, collected in a box by one or more of the performers. The counting of the pennys was a great chore at the end of the night and many's the time I paid for my petrol back to Belfast with a load of small change, much to the dismay of the petrol station attendant. I don't think such a show can be seen today, more's the pity."

Can you remember the names of the Castlewellan brothers he mentions?

Mike Niblett believes the 'brothers' were Gerry, Vince and Jim Poland. Also involved were Jimmy McCabe and Terry Mcartan. The band was called "The Vibrolas".

Sean Boden checked out our site and "was pleased to note the fond memories of the many who associated themselves with Newcastle in the sixties. I think I can be of some help to Gerry (I remember him well - "Sheila and Gerry"). The Castlewellan band he refers to were "The Vibrolas" later to change their name to "The Rico". There were three bothers in the band: Gerry Jim and Vince Poland, as well as Paddy Garland, Jimmy McCabe and myself Sean Boden. They were magical times then, and although our wee band hardly earned enough to buy fish and chips in The Broadway, we enjoyed playing in the perriots so much. My best memory of Sheila and Gerry is "getting off" with a girl whilst they were performing some of their romantic ballads. Thanks for that memory, and nice to hear about Gerry again. By the way, as far as I know, Jim, Paddy and Jimmy still perform occassionally. Best wishes to all."

Were you ever in the audience for one of the variety bandstand shows that Gerry talks about? Did you ever see Gerry's singing duo performing?
Post your comments directly onto the site by filling in the form at the bottom of the page.

Mike Niblett

The Newcastle bandstand, at the time, was actually a showcase for up and coming bands. Brian Rossi and the Wheels, Lee Parker and the Vibratones(a super band for Shadows sounds). Judge Joe and the Jury, Tony G. Ford and the Stellas, at that time known as the Seekers, Tony and the Telstars, the list goes on. Conor Bradley ( see below ) is not quite correct about Curran's (central ballroom) most of the showbands played there at some time or another, maybe after he had gone away.

Declan McConaghy

"We always went to Newcastle on our altar boys summer day out and it always rained. We got the bus from Newry and were deposited at the bus station at the top of the town. From then until one it was time to explore the delights of Newcastle. The joke shop at the top of the town for stink bombs and itching power, the amusements where your pocket money disappeared quickly, the boating lake we weren't much good at rowing and spent most of the time stuck up against the weir). Then there was the icecream - superb!!!

children performing in Newcastle

I remember one summer Walter Love was broadcasting from the pavilion beside the boating lake and the pitch and putt (and it was raining). We had our lunch in a room upstairs in a cafe (can't remember the name but it had a black marble front and was up at the bus station end of the town). Three courses (one was fish and chips and as much bread and butter as you could eat) and we were back there again at five for our tea.

There was the shopping to get a souvenir for those at home who did not go on the trip. I remember one time finding a purse in the street. I gave it to a traffic warden who took all my details. I never thought any more of it until we had a visit from a police man in Newry who lived a couple of doors from us. No one had claimed the purse so it was now mine as were the contents, sadly only a few shillings. Then it was back on the bus to Newry with the usual singalong shortening the journey."

Conor Bradley

"I now live in Australia, but lived in Newcastle from 1956 to 1962. I have many happy memories of Summer in that lovely town. One that springs immediately to mind is standing on the wall on the 'Prom' watching the 'Pierrotes' variety show at the Bandstand. Standing on the wall was the favourite place for us young people, as (miserable sods!) not only could you avoid paying for the show when the performers came around with their collecton boxes, but it was a great vantage point to assess the visiting male and female 'talent'.

Mourne Mountains

The Summer seemed to be full of things to do and there were the long school holidays to do them in. Things like swimming and learning lifesaving at the Pool, dances run by the Glee Singers(?) in the hall on the hill above the Pool, climbing Donard and occasionally getting lost, ice creams at The Lido(?) cafe, cycling to Tollymore Forest, as well as the row-boats and tennis near the bridge. There was also Curran's ballroom, but for a long time it never seemed to get any of the showbands which were then the rage.

With the support of the then editor of the Mourne Observer,Will Hawthorne (?) and some other adults, a few of us tried to start a 'mixed' youth club for Catholic and Protestant teenagers. Summer seemed to be a great opportunity to raise some funds. Unfortunately, the pretty pathetic prizes we were able to offer at our Bingo sessions couldn't compete with the well-established sessions at other venues. Then, when we found that we were breaking the law because we needed a licence, the Youth Club bingo was quietly withdrawn from Newcastle's calendar of tourist attractions! But it was good fun while it lasted. Years ago Conor O'Cleary, who writes for the Irish Times, wrote a great article about Newcastle for that paper. Conor hails from Newcastle. It might be of interest to see if that piece is still available."

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