By Jimmy Rhatigan
Pic: Donal Foley
IT WAS an evening to cherish for a long tailed family and for those who admire and respect real talent.
For a 9-year-old boy, a talented musician, it was a dream come true as he got to play a live gig with his grandad, a sprightly 70-year-old master musician.
It was akin to a beautiful changing of the guard as student and sensational drummer, Ciarán O’Dwyer teamed up with his dad, Seán, and his dad’s dad, grandfather, Pakie O’Dwyer to blast a superbly talented family to new heights
Although, a quiet and friendly Pakie has no intention of packing away his guitar after 55 years, there was a loving reminder from a hugely talented new kid on the block that a family member, although only in his tender years, is ready, willing and would be privileged to fly the Clan Flag into a new era.
The party piece of the trinity as grandad, Pakie, a retired employee of St Luke’s General Hospital, celebrated his 70th birthday reminded of the significance of the adage that blood is thicker than water.
Evening of emotion, brilliance and passion
A proud O’Dwyer Clan and their friends in music drank a toast to a doyen of local entertainment.
A party evening at James Stephens GAA Complex, Larchfield was emotional, brilliant, mind boggling, passionate too.
It was laced with love of kith and kin and respect for our fantastically talented local family of music and in particular for a gentleman of the guitar.
Pakie O’Dwyer acknowledged that he was calling a halt to playing at gigs which, over the years, had taken him to so many nooks and crannies.
He is adamant that he is not edging to a life of pipe and slippers but to leisure years with his guitar and his so talented family of music.
The sound of music is always beautiful but when it is fashioned by three generations of the same family, it is food for the soul.
The seldom but wonderful party act was born because a super dad and doting grandad had reached a significant milestone.
The performance by guitarists Pakie and his son Séan, with Seán’s son and Pakie’s grandson, Ciarán, a chip off two solid blocks, was as emotional as it was beautiful.
Pakie is a high profile but unassuming member of what we call, with respect, a sensational musical dynasty that encompasses the greater O’Dwyer and Dorney families from the parish of St Patrick in our city.
The man who was baptised Patrick O’Dwyer but from an early age was fondly Pakie, celebrated seven happy and healthy decades and the world and its mother were part of a moving musical tribute to a super son of our treasured and extraordinarily talented pool of local entertainment.
The party was a marrying of young and young at heart, fantastic performers like Paddy, Kevin ‘Beano’, aka Elvis Presley, Patsy and Shane O’Dwyer and a superb collection of golden oldies.
Another gentleman of music, Sonny Cullen of The Rockies was there, the Aces Band with the inimitable Noel Power, After Dark who broad the party to a cracking conclusion, buddies from the Black Aces, Liam Drennan and Ollie Kearney of Just Tell Her Jim said Hello fame, along with Arthur Connick, Tom McGrath, Jimmy Donnelly, Billy Brennan, popular stock from the showband era and beyond.
Super performers too were Maura Dorney’s sons, Richard and Adrian and O’Dwyer family first cousin, Stephen Hoyne.
Making waves with a T-chest Bass
The event was an explosion of musical passion and pride, a tribute to those who manned the stage that in the past was their bastion of brilliance and today’s young guns who are blazing a trail of magnificence.
Pakie’s peers, his friends, and most of all his kith and kin showed their respect and love with a plethora of musical instruments and a selection of popular songs from several musical eras.
Pakie and his late brother Ted, aka Dr Ted during his years on the staff of St Luke’s General Hospital, were, surprise, surprise, born in Manchester but quickly became Village People while still in short pants in the 1950s.
Pakie was also a St Luke’s Hospital staff member, spending 34 years as theatre porter. He retired 9 years ago.
While a young Pakie was learning the accordion, his brother Jim was making waves with what was called a T-chest Bass, a wooden box with a handle and a piece of string that eventually gave way to an electric bass guitar.
It is worth recalling that Pakie played accordion for the late Mary Moore on The Kilkenny Greats musical memories promoted by Ted O’Dwyer.
Ciarán, the young gun of grandad’s party, is a student of St Mary’s School, Thomastown.
He played drums on the Late, Late Toy Show two years ago and RTE’s Nationwide did a special on him when he was playing with the Nathan Carter Band.
We may be exaggerating but we suspect that there are millions of wonderful stories that could be told by O’Dwyer family of their fantastic musical exploits over many generations.
For instance Pakie’s son Seán toured with a band called Lightening Strikes that played all over Ireland, England and Switzerland.
Not bitten by the music bug but a true aficionado is Seán’s brother, Aidan O’Dwyer who owns Kapelli Hair Stylists at Upper Patrick Street.
The birthday party for Pakie, born in 1947, marked the end of gigging for a devoted entertainer who will however continue to play the guitar along with his friend in music Sonny Cullen at random sessions in the Village Club.
An entire clan and battalion of friends were delighted to pay homage, not simply to a superb guitarist but to a gentleman and a scholar of good manners and a warm heart.
Leading the organising team were Seán O’Dwyer, his wife, Bríd and mother Breda.
They would, we suggest, be the first to admit that the party was a piece of cake to organise, so easy for one so popular.
A cake was cut, reminding that so many wanted a slice of the action on an amazing night for a musical family that is so highly respected by the greater family of musicians from all across our city and county, and indeed further afield.
Seán O’Dwyer paid the tribute of the evening to his father.
“Dad is a brilliant father. And he is even better at being a grandfather.”