It was 40 years ago today, “the Grannys” brought some bands to play ….

Granny’s Intentions on stage at the Market’s Field: Jack Costelloe, Johnny Duhan, Pat Nash, Johnny Hockedy, Guido DiVito, Cha Haran and John Ryan.

On this weekend in 1983, Limerick beat group Granny’s Intentions reformed for a huge one off show with a lot of help from their friends and raised thousands for Milford Hospice


ON Sunday August 28, 1983, the Markets Field hosted a huge outdoor concert featuring Limerick band Granny’s Intentions on a large bill of guests including Brush Shiels and the late Johnny Fean. It was the biggest event of its kind in the city and James “Cha” Haran sat down with Limerick Post to reminisce on a concert that raised thousands for charities including Milford Hospice.

The origins of Granny’s Intentions go back to 1965, the band started out as a mod / beat group called The Intentions, playing soul covers led by, on vocals, two young friends from Wolfe Tone Street, Johnny Duhan and Cha Haran.

“We were a Beat Group playing covers, we were an anti showband,” Haran remembers.

The band moved to Dublin to make a name for themselves, moving to Leeson Street and then to Dun Laoghaire. Brush Shields and Phil Lynott were some of the friends they made along the way.

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“The Intentions were one of the first Irish Beat Groups to turn professional and make the move to live and work together in Dublin and then in London.”

The band changed its name to Granny’s Intentions to reflect the changing times in music in the flower power / psychedelic era inspired by bands such as Mothers of Invention and The Move.

Now based in Marble Arch, London the band gigged regularly and toured Germany.

“The Marquee and Speakeasy were big gigs for us. We played American Army bases in Germany to kids on their way to the Vietnam War, to many who would not make it back.”

Granny’s Intentions with a changing lineup released four singles and one album of original material for Deram Records (part of Decca Records) called ‘Honest Injun’ before disbanding in 1971.

Cha was the first to leave the band and return home, got married and opened a clothing boutique.

By 1983 Granny’s Intentions had not played in over a decade. Cha has joined the army, based in Limerick when the idea of a fundraising concert for the newly opened Milford Hospice leads to the proposal to bring the band back together.

“I will try and get the Granny’s back together if ye can get the Markets Field for me.” was Cha’s request.

An organising committee was formed and the venue was duly secured.  The bill featured The Outfit, Brush Shiels, Johnny Fean (Zen Alligators), Village, Rake ’n’ Ramblers, Blaze all presented by Radio 2 DJ Michael McNamara. The radio station provided posters and publicity on air.

The lineup with Granny’s Intentions on the day was Jack Costelloe, Johnny Duhan, Pat Nash, Johnny Hockedy, Guido DiVito, Cha Haran and John Ryan.

For this huge community effort, nobody charged a fee, the bands played for free, the sound was provided without charge by the Murrays with Gary Sciascia and a young Ado Cunningham on sound. 

Cha’s pals in the armed forces did their bit too.

“The army backed me to the hilt and they provided security for the event.”

The cooks from Sarsfield Barracks made hot dogs to sell on the day and the air force made sure that Brush Shiels (who was playing in Omagh) made it to the show using an army helicopter to get the Skid Row star to the Markets Field on time.

McMahon Timber supplied planks of wood that made a timber stage on the pitch facing the Market’s Field stand.

The gig was a huge success and featured on the RTE news. The venue was jammed to the hilt on that day, a very beautiful sunny August day in 1983, which was just as well because the stage was not even covered and open to the elements, something unthinkable these days.

Tickets for this gig called ‘Back-Tracking’ at the Markets Field with its extensive lineup were only £1, very, very cheap even in the 1980s. 

(The Rolling Stones charged £12 the year before at Slane Castle).

Cha explains, “I’m very for non-profit, I wanted the man from Prospect and the fella from Ennis Road to be able to afford a ticket.”

Another brainwave to raise money was a 64 page comic which was sold at the gig featuring adverts from local businesses from pubs to the local undertakers which went a long way to cover the extensive insurance costs of the concert, which was the only expense the event organisers were faced with.

The music played from 3pm-6pm, Granny’s Intentions played a set of the early music they covered in the clubs in the 1960’s.

And much in the same way that everyone in Limerick will try to convince you they were at Thomond Park when Munster beat the All-Blacks in 1978, the vast numbers that attended Granny’s Intentions at the Markets Field 40 years ago on Sunday August 28, 1983, is now part of Limerick history, folklore and spoofery.


Were you at the gig in the Market’s Field? What are your memories of that day and Granny’s Intentions?