|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
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 aftershock-the-band.com 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
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
"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.
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
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.
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.
"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!!!
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
"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'.
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."