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Mayor: ‘Showbands of the North West’ move to Guildhall ‘an excellent addition’ to Jazz Festival

25 April 2018

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh has said he is delighted that thousands of additional visitors to the city will have the opportunity to see the popular ‘Showbands of the North West’ exhibition which will be on display in the Guildhall during this year’s Jazz & Big Band Festival.

Funded by the Council’s Museum Service, the new exhibition includes photographs, newspaper cuttings, record sleeves and other memorabilia from the 1950s, 60s & 70s – the ‘golden era’ of the North West showbands.

Launched at the beginning of March in the ‘Garden of Reflection Gallery’ on Bishop Street, the popular exhibition will move to the Guildhall for Wednesday 2nd May up until Monday 7th May and then on to the Alley Theatre in Strabane (8th to 13th May), before being showcased in other venues across the North West, including Donegal.

So many showbands from the North West gained national and international notoriety during the 1950s, 60s & 70s – including Clipper Carlton from Strabane, The Melody Aces from Sion Mills, and Derry’s very own Gay McIntyre and Johnny Quigley to mention but a few. 

Mayor McHugh is expecting thousands of additional visitors to the city will view the exhibition at the Guildhall over the May Day bank holiday weekend.

“The fantastic ‘Showbands of the North West’ exhibition really is an excellent addition to this year’s Jazz & Big Band Festival – which is such a huge showcase for the city” he said.

“Indeed, it will complement what is an amazing programme of events this year – featuring artists from all over the world and welcoming more than 60,000 revellers to the city.

“Thousands of additional visitors and citizens alike will therefore have the opportunity to see this wonderful, eclectic mix of photographs and memorabilia in the Guildhall.

“Whilst I understand that this was a ‘labour of love’ for Johnny Murray – I would nevertheless like to thank him again for compiling the wonderful content for this new exhibition.  He has worked closely with so many of those who were part of the golden era of North West showbands.

“This exhibition is a fantastic trip down memory lane – which takes people back to a truly special time in Irish music history.  Indeed, I remember the famous Butt Hall in Ballybofey, Pallidrome Ballroom in Strabane, Orchid Ballroom in Lifford and so many of the carnival tents and marquees which held the dances.

“The dancehalls at this time were also alcohol free places – so if a girl agreed to ‘go for a mineral’ then she was agreeing to be your date for the evening! Indeed, so many people from throughout the city and district met their partners in the North West dancehalls during these years.

“I would therefore encourage as many people as possible to take a trip down memory lane by visiting the ‘Showbands of the North West’ exhibition at the Guildhall over the May Day bank holiday weekend. Indeed, it’s also a wonderful opportunity for our younger citizens to find out more about our amazing musical heritage.”

The ‘Showbands of the North West’ exhibition will be open to the public from 10am to 5:30pm on Wednesday 2nd May up until Monday 7th May in the Guildhall (free admission).