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This Friday night 17th September sees Gaeláras Mhic Ardghail pay tribute to Accordion maestro Jackie Hearst with a plaque being unveiled to mark his Monaghan Street residence followed by a night of music and reminiscence in the Railway Bar.

Last surviving members of Hearst band pay respects

Mix nostalgia, history and tradition with a good dollop of music and you can evoke the most misty eyed and heart-warming sensations known to mankind. When the two remaining members of the great Jackie Hearst International Ceili band staged their little reunion at Hearst grave side, tears of joy flowed in abundance. Jimmy Burns was fiddle player and Andy Tohill played double bass in that line up of great local musicians.

Ómos do Jackie Hearst

They came to pay their respects on the news that Jackie’s incredible musical achievements will be celebrated at a unique event on Friday 17thSeptember in the Railway Bar, Monaghan Street. Jackie achieved international recognition with the Jackie Hearst Céilí Band and was revered by musicians at home and abroad. The tribute is being organised by Gaeláras Mhic Ardhghail, as part of Oíche Chultúir/Culture Night,2021

Probably the best known céilí band in Ireland and Britain during the late 1950s and early 1960s, his International Céilí Band achieved the ultimate accolade by being chosen to perform the closing ceremony at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann held in Gorey in 1962. They were occasionally billed as Jackie Hearst and his All Star Céilí Band – “The Boys from the County Armagh”. At a time when radio was the premier source of entertainment in Ireland, they regularly featured on the Saturday night Walton Music programme as broadcast on Raidió Éireann. They played at venues and functions all across Ireland and drew in massive crowds in London and beyond.

Andy & Aveen Tohill

Having started his playing career with various local dance bands, Andy Tohill joined the Jackie Hearst International Ceili Band in 1958 on double bass and was also joined that year by Warrenpoint pianist, Aveen Kinney, whom he later married. They toured extensively with the band for the next four years, across both Ireland and England performing to capacity crowds in many high-profile venues, such as the Elephant and Castle and the iconic Galtymore in London alongside doing regular broadcasts for the BBC and Radio Eireann. The bands uniqueness was in no small part derived from the incredible talent of Jackie Hearst, the hugely accomplished accordion player. Andy and Aveen left the band in 1962 and as they entered a new period in their lives and continued their musical journeys through their respective careers, Aveen as music teacher in St Mark’s HS, Warrenpoint and Andy as an instrumental tutor with the SELB Music Service. 

But amongst a younger generation of Irish traditional musicians and enthusiasts in the town, Jackie is hardly known. That will be put right on the night!

Gaeláras Mhic Ardghail is organising the ‘Ómos do Jackie’ event as part of the nationwide Oíche Chultúir/Culture Night. It has been a long-held objective of Gaeláras to honour Jackie and to commemorate his impact nationally and locally. We will be unveiling a plaque to mark his first residence in the town on Monaghan St., before heading into the Railway Bar where we will celebrate Jackie in story and in music.

The unveiling of the plaque is at 8.30 pm at Number 69 Monaghan Street, followed by the tribute at 9.00 pm in the Railway Bar a couple of doors away. Space is limited, so come early to avoid disappointment.”

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