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A Tribute to St John’s Brass and Reed Band

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St Johns Brass and Reed Band pictured above.

A Tribute to St John’s Brass and Reed Band

By I Love Limerick Correspondent Dylan Frawley

For the last 150 years, St Johns Brass and Reed Band has brought people together in the spirit of music and community in Limerick and its environs.


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The Victuallers Band circa 1865

The Victuallers Band circa 1865.

St Johns Brass and Reed Band is one of Limerick’s oldest bands, having been established in 1865, originally known as ‘The Victuallers Band’. In the 1920s, the band changed its name to ‘St. John’s Workmen’s Band’ and has since become the ‘St. John’s Brass and Reed Band’ we know today.

The band consists of wind, brass, and percussion instruments, which has various musicians and different music styles to practice and play. The group genre is varied, allowing people to compose and play original music, classic and modern pieces.

The mission of the band is to, “bring the music right into the heart of the community, somewhere we know there is young talent,” stated Chairperson, Tony McCarthy.

The band started because the Hinchy’s grew up in a very musical family. “My brothers, cousins and close friends all played in the band, with over 40 or 50 members, which was led by my father who was bandmaster, who had only started from the age of 12 or 13,” explained member Ken Hinchy.

“Jimmy McCormack, a builder by profession, arranged a project where we all came together to make a wooden prefab building, which became ‘The Modern Band Hall’ in the mid-1950s,” added band member Mike Hinchy.

The history connected to St. John’s Band is very much part of Limerick’s Cultural Heritage, past and present

The history connected to St. John’s Band is very much part of Limerick’s Cultural Heritage, past and present.

In the mid-1950s, the band moved to Mulgrave Street and remained there until the band hall was knocked down in 2009, however, the Limerick City and County Council named the street ‘Sraid An Cheoil’ (Street of Music), commemorating the band and its origins. The demolition of the beloved band hall resulted in the band setting up their own official establishment at No.2 Garryowen Road is the new permanent practice space that they can call their own and the music lives on.

The band has seen its share of difficulties over the decades, losing all its members during the war years, and again in the 70s and 80s, and having to give up their beloved band hall of over 40 years for city development work. But with drive, passion and tireless effort, the band has always returned in the united spirit of music and community.

The band was renowned for being warm people, united people through their music, even experiencing stardom, having played in 2007 for international actor Russel Crowe during his visit to West Clare.

 For more information, go HERE

To donate to the First Steps in Music initiative, go HERE

For more stories on St. John’s Brass and Reed Band, go HERE

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.