THE famous Irish Rovers got right back to their roots last Thursday evening with a rollicking mix of reels, jigs and songs which delighted their hometown audience at the packed out Braid Arts Centre in Ballymena.
In truth, this ‘farewell party’ with the band, formed from Ballymena exiles in Canada during the 1950s, could have been sold out three times over with tickets being rarer than the proverbial hen’s teeth!
The show was preceded by a reception in the Mayor’s parlour to mark the success of the band on a global scale since their formation.
In the absence of servin g Mayor, Lindsey Millar, the victim of a horse riding accident, the honours were performed by Councillor Audrey Wales MBE.
There was a special mention for the role played by retired Ballymena solicitor, Lyle Cubitt, who urged the council to record the long lifetime of musical contribution by the band members.
In early 2017, Lyle recounted how he had watched the band in performance whilst holidaying in the UNited States.
He told the Guardian it would be a great gesture if Mid & East Antrim Council could organise some form of tribute.
And when we repoirted Lyle’s call, the story eventually got back to the band and their management who said they were still very proud of their County Antrim roots.
The ball started rolling and eventually the plans were laid for last week’s astonishing performance at The Braid. One Braid regular said: “That wasn’t a concert - it was a party from start to finish.
“In fact, I thought the audience were not going to let them finish!”