Dunmore East is a small fishing village on the south-east coast of Ireland, 16kms from the city of Waterford.It sits on the western side of the Waterford Harbour Estuary, 4.8kms from Hook Head in Wexford.
Dunmore East, Co. Waterford, Ireland
The Candlelighters, to my knowledge, were the first local band in Dunmore East.
We came into being sort of by accident. It started out with Dad (or Chiefy as I will call him from now on. Most people in
Dunmore had a nickname), in about 1969, when he decided he would entertain his Saturday night diners with a spot of
musical entertainment. This originally consisted of him playing a piano and singing. He then replaced the piano with a
Baldwin theatre organ, complete with revolving Leslie speaker (in later years he was to have this organ transported
regularly to Powers Bar for his weekly musical residence there).
I don't know where the idea for The Candlelighters came from, I presume it was from Chiefy, but I remember a Pearl
drumkit being bought and being told "you're playing drums". This of course was fine with me!
My brother Kieran was nominated to play rythm guitar, he was sort of like the John Lennon of the band and I was the
Paul McCartney, so to this end he purchased an old Rickenbacker electric guitar (a weird-looking thing) from one John
O'Connor from Waterford, who as I remember used to play with Gerry and the Entertainers, a Waterford band who
played now and then in the Fisherman's Hall. For effects, Kieran bought an early model of a "fuzz box" when he was
on a visit to South Africa, a forerunner to present-day distortion pedals, which worked a treat when we played stuff like
"Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones and “Birthday” by the Beatles.
I can't remember how Gerry (Fancy) Power was recruited.
Gerry initially had a home-made solid-state electric guitar and I remember he could pick notes (I think one of his pieces
was Ghost Riders in the Sky). I was very impressed with this, partly because at that time I could not play a guitar at all.
So I was delegated as drummer and lead singer, a feat I accomplished by securing a microphone in a harmonica
holder around my neck. I was not a great drummer by any means, but I could get the job done. I had still to learn the
art of playing guitar, so for the moment I was stuck playing drums.
Kieran was on main rythm guitar and backing vocals and Gerry was on lead guitar.
And off we went! The only band in Dunmore East!
The evening would commence with Chiefy offering forth renditions such as "Yellow Bird" and "Kingston Town". For
these songs we would be suitably toned down, and I would use brushes on the snare instead of drumsticks. Gerry
didn't know all these songs at the beginning and was a bit hesitant, and because of this Chiefy, who was a terrible
perfectionist, thought that Gerry was slowing down in tempo, and every now and then would turn around and give him
a filthy look!
So after the diners had had their fill of smooching around the dancefloor, Chiefy would announce "And now ladies and
gentlemen, I shall hand you over to The Candlelighters!" It was also an excuse for him to retire to the bar and entertain
his customers there as well!
Off with the kid gloves! This was the sign for me to throw away the brushes and get out the drumsticks (I still have
them in my music room), and for Kieran and Mickey Smith (as Gerry Fancy was also known) to increase the volume on
their amplifiers to around 7-8 out of 10 and get the fuzz-box ready.
We had a varied repertoire, from "Hokey Pokey" to "Hey Jude" to "Satisfaction". I was also a bit of a perfectionist and
always tried to get the drum sound as near to the original as possible, so in Hey Jude, for example, I used drying-up
cloths (tea-towels?) over the drums so I would get the same dampened sounds as Ringo Starr in that song. Mary
Glody was well used to me asking for three tea-towels in a hurry!
At one stage I wanted to brighten up the drums with some sort of synchronised light show. There being a lack of
technology (these things hadn't been invented yet) and a shortage of doubloons at the time, I was forced to improvise.
I hung two ordinary coloured lights inside the smaller drums, and for the bass drum I had a great idea. I hung a bright
bulb inside it, and connected the cable across the bass pedal (one bit of bare wire taped to the head of the pedal, the
other bit taped to the skin of the drum), so every time I kicked the bass drum pedal, the two bare wires would connect
and the light would light up! It worked a treat, and I didn't advertise the fact that I was using mains voltage to make it
We played one night when Brendan Bowyer was dining in the restaurant. Of course he was asked to sing, after his
meal (The Hucklebuck or I Ran All The Way Home, I can't remember which). He didn't need any backing from us
(which was a good thing because we didn't know the chords for either of those songs!), and, more to the point, he
didn't need a microphone. The power that came out of his lungs and vocal chords was tremendous. He just stood there
and let it rip.
We played occasional functions as well, including the odd wedding. I remember when Larry Murphy married Carol
Power, we played at their reception in the Candlelight. Towards the end of the evening there was a lot of drink
consumed, normal enough for a wedding I suppose, and while we were in the middle of one of our fast songs (we had
them divided into fast and slow numbers) there was a bit of a heave when a couple fell in on top of me and the drumkit.
But it was a great night.
On one occasion we did an open air gig up behind the Candlelight, at the top of the garden (the first open air gig in
Dunmore, ever!), near the smokehouse, on a Sunday afternoon, I think it was. We dragged all the gear up the back
and were quite excited with the idea. We were joined by Joefy Murphy who was three sheets to the wind and helped us
out with some vocals. There were photos somewhere of that event but alas they are lost.
It would be great to get a few photos of The Candlelighters, there must be some somewhere.
I don't remember when we stopped playing, but Life moved on and we went to other things. It was a great time to be
alive. Ringo tells me he used to be down in the village looking for a bit of action (but he was younger than us) and he
would slink in to the front of the Candlelight and peer in jealously through the windows as we were playing, anxious to
catch any musical gold-dust that might fall from us.
Kieran, fair play to him, was ahead of the game with both the hardware he had and his ability to just pick up a song, on
the fly, which we often did, when guests invariably came up and asked us to back them in a song.