Limerick marching band tradition recalled in new book

Dr Derek Mulcahy and Mayor Francis Foley at the launch of ‘By the Left, Quick March’.

LIMERICK’S long tradition of civilian marching bands, dating back to the temperance movement of the 1830s, has been recalled in a new book by a local academic who is also a bandmaster.

Written by Mary Immaculate College (MIC) lecturer Dr Derek Mulcahy, ‘By The Left, Quick March’ uses interviews, newspaper accounts, band records and photographs to tell a fascinating story.

Published by Limerick City and County Council in partnership with MIC, the book examines the heritage of the city’s marching bands from the temperance movement and the city’s military tradition, to political divisions, band competitions, instrumentation and the importance of band halls.

The book was launched by Mayor Francis Foley at City Hall where the Boherbuoy, St John’s and Redemptorist Brass and Reed Bands; City of Limerick and CBS Pipe bands and the St Mary’s Fife and Drum Band performed.

Describing the book as an extensive history of the city’s bands, Mayor Foley said that Limerick is fortunate to still have brass and reed, fife and drum and pipe bands.

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“While many bands in the city have disbanded over the last two centuries, others have survived since the 1850s. Thanks to Dr Mulcahy and those who supported his work, they are now all recorded for posterity.

Dr Mulcahy’s doctoral thesis discussed the Evolution of Limerick’s fife and drum tradition from the 1830s to 1930s. He is the author of  ‘The Leader of the Band’ which tells the story of Limerick man Patrick J McNamara who emigrated to New York and set up the now renowned McNamara’s Band with his brothers.

Dr Mulcahy is also the bandmaster of St Mary’s Fife and Drum Band, founded in 1885.

‘By The Left, Quick March’ is available at O’Mahony’s Bookshop on  O’Connell Street and the Crescent Bookshop in Dooradoyle.