By Betty Devenny


I will never forget that wonderful time in 1956, when I was nine years old. Daddy took me to the pictures in Strabane to see Rock Around the Clock featuring Bill Haley and His Comets.

It was my first introduction to the new music which was gaining popularity everywhere. Daddy played the saxophone in a dance band called The Melody Aces, and looking back, I think it was really him who wanted to see the film. All the way home he talked about the music, the rhythm, and the new dance – The Jive.

Around that time the smash hit Be-Bop-A-Lula was blaring from the wireless almost every day. It was 1958 when I first heard the Everly Brothers singing in harmony: All I Have to Do is Dream. From then on, The School Around the Corner, that I’d curl up to listen to every Sunday was forgotten. All my attention now focused on the new young crooners of the day.

I was twelve years old when I heard a song by Buddy Holly, It Doesn’t Matter Anymore. The music flowing into the airwaves had opened up a whole new world to me. At bedtime I pleaded with my parents to keep the sound turned up on the wireless. I didn’t want to miss hearing my favourite songs. I fell asleep most nights listening to all the hits being broadcast.

One day, Daddy arrived home with a record player. It had a large speaker that helped to amplify the sound when slotted into place. There was a handle on the side that had to be wound up before the needle was carefully placed on the record.

I was bursting with excitement when I saw he’d brought a stack of records home as well. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Buddy Holly, it was Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band and Jimmy Dorsey and his Jazz Band. There was even a record with Fats Waller and His Rhythm, singing, My Very Good Friend the Milkman.

As my sister and I were learning Irish Dancing, he also brought a record with Seán Maguire’s Ceilidh Band playing hornpipes. It would be a few more years before a more up-to-date record player was purchased.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own