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Showband fan: "I feel a sense of peace here"

Miami Showband fan Paddy Gorman at the site of the massacre near Newry. Pic: Cliff Donaldson.
John Monaghan

EVERY July for 40 years, off the main Banbridge to Newry road, Paddy Gorman has come to lay flowers and say prayers at the spot where the careers of his musical idols were wiped out.

A former bass guitarist with the Briar folk group, Mr Gorman had been a devoted follower of the Miami Showband for over five years when three of the band were killed on July 31st 1975.

A month before their untimely deaths, the Co Down musician had travelled to Dublin to see the group.

Mr Gorman said: "They were very approachable and they always had time for people stopping them for photos and autographs."

"Fran O’Toole was very good looking and there were lots of girls at the concerts. And of course where you get girls you get fellas. Up to 1,000 people would have been at dances they would have played. It was all innocent fun."

On the night of the massacre, Mr Gorman was in Belfast playing at a gig with a folk group and it was "really the next evening before things became clear."

He said: "The next night there were no bands on. The dance halls faded away. People became more parochial and stayed in their own areas for dances. Bands were frightened to come and that one night cut the whole showband business off."

In memory of the band, the Miami Showband tribute group will play a final act on Friday August 21st at the Bannville House Hotel in Banbridge, as part of the Linenfields festival.

Festival organiser James Dale said: "Part of the thinking was that the Castle Ballroom in Banbridge was always synonymous with showbands and since its closure Banbridge has been a backwater for music and up-and-coming talent. We want to change that."

Two days after the attack, Mr Gorman arrived at the scene on the Buskhill Road to pay tribute, a tradition he has kept every year since.

He said: "Every anniversary I come and pay tribute with flowers and say a few prayers."

Mr Gorman added: "On other occasions I sometimes pull the car over here and just sit here. I feel a sense of peace here."

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