A Brief History

The band was seventy five years in existence in 2007. It was founded in 1932, when, with the help of the surviving members of the old Sinn Fein band of the same name, the T.F. Meagher Brass & Reed Band was formed, with Christy Murphy as the first conductor. After the War in 1945, the band was reformed, and Seamus Carey became musical director. At this time, the band premises were in Stephen St., on the site of the present De La Salle centre. During the fifties the changeover was made to an all-brass combination, and the name was changed to St. Patrick's Brass Band, which was the name of the parish in which the band was then situated. Many of the older members of the band joined in this period. In 1957 Seamus Carey relinquished the baton to the late Fintan O'Carroll, B. Mus., L.T.C.L. who stayed with the band for some twelve years. Fintan took a keen interest in the development of the band, producing many fine arrangements, particularly of Irish music, and was instrumental in the band entering its first competitions in Ballinrobe in 1959 and in the Feis Maitiu in Cork in 1964.. The band distinguished itself in those competitions, and went from strength to strength, both musically and in terms of membership numbers. At this time, the band gave weekly recitals at the Applemarket on Sunday mornings during the summer months. In the late sixties and early seventies, the band suffered two major setbacks. The first was a disastrous fire, when its premises, over the Boston Cleaners, were totally destroyed. It surmounted that one, and received a new set of instruments from its insurers, Norwich Union. However, the lack of a band premises remained a problem for many years. The other setback was in 1971, with the untimely death of Danny Sutton, who as principal cornet player and latterly as conductor, had made an irreplaceable contribution to the band. In the early seventies, David Grant, who had been a member of the band since joining in 1958, took over as conductor for a twenty year period. During the latter end of that time, in the years 1985-1990, the band achieved wins in five National Championships, four of them successive, three times at Intermediate level, and twice at Senior Level. The band made a very successful tour of Germany in 1987, after its first Senior Brass Championship win. In 1988 the band forged an important link and great friendship with the Burnley & District Gilbert and Sullivan Society, who first came to the Festival in that year. The band performed at a Festival Mass that year in a packed Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity under the baton of the Society's musical director, Nigel Wilkinson. The band visited Burnley in 1990, and was very warmly received. Since then Burnley have made return visits to Waterford, and the friendship between the two musical groups is ongoing and enduring.

Band Rooms....

During this time, the band was in rather dilapidated premises at Five Alley Lane, and in the early nineties the band committee and supporters decided to make an all-out effort to build a new custom-built band rehearsal hall. This was achieved after much difficulty when John Sutton as Chairman officiated at the opening of the new premises in May 1996. The sterling efforts of all members on the band building committee during this difficult time should not go unrecorded. Even before taking over its new premises, the band had, under its current musical director, Julie Quinlan, who incidentally started her musical career in the band, initiated a policy of rebuilding the band membership, and Julie has done sterling work, since the early nineties, in teaching and training a very young band. The band has also invested in new uniforms, new instruments and a new name, to better represent the city whose name it now bears, and which it is proud to serve and represent, as it has done for over sixty years now.

Name Change

One of the reasons for the band's name change is that the band in recent years have become sterling ambassadors for the city. In the last few years the band has, through band member lmelda O'Neill, a former member of St. Joseph's Brass Band, Strabane, established an important cross-border link, and St. Joseph's made a highly successful return visit to Waterford, playing at several venues in the City and at Woodstown.

German Connection

In 1997, ten years after the original German trip, the band made a return visit to Waldaschaff in northern Bavaria, and also forged a new link with the band at Aschau-am-Inn in southern Bavaria, near the border with Austria. The Aschau band made a return visit the following Summer, and a good time was had by all!

Careers and Friendship

Down through the years the band has contributed hugely to the musical life of Waterford: providing players for both the Waterford Orchestral Players, the Light Opera Festival, the Waterford Grand Opera Society, and the many dance bands which originated in Waterford during the sixties such as the famous Royal Showband. Several of the band's former members e.g. Fergus O'Carroll, Seamus and Brendan Doyle and Patrick Kennedy are now professional players with either Dublin orchestras or other professional groups. Many others who have gone through the ranks of the band, while not taking up professional careers in music, have had a unique musical experience which has influenced their lives for the better, and which still links them with strong ties of friendship, memory and emotion to the institution of the band. City of Waterford Brass looks forward to continuing this grand tradition of music and friendship into the new millennium.