Life

Radio review: Miami Showband - the daughters' story

Nuala McCann

After the music – The Daughters' Story RTE Radio One

It is over 40 years since the Miami Showband were killed by the UVF after they were stopped at a bogus UDR checkpoint.

Singer Fran O'Toole's daughters were very young - Rachel was four and half, Kelly just three.

The family had lived in Bray but, after the murder, their mother, Valerie, took her daughters to Canada to start a new life.

Journalist Susan McKay travelled to Vancouver, Canada, to talk to them.

She has created a poignant and beautiful documentary, full of stark memories and haunted by Fran O'Toole's wistful singing and his daughters' mourning all down the years; all across the miles of ocean.

One daughter has a vivid memory of her father and the first time she saw snow: “I remember him throwing a snowball at me at the window... it came right across and shattered on the glass.”

One lies awake at night, clutching at memories, trying to hold on to fading glimpses of him.

They have a photograph of their mother – just before their father's murder in 1975.

“It's really sad, she had no idea what was coming...” they say.

And of the shooting: Des Lee, the survivor, is still haunted by those events. He described that night in graphic, horrific detail – down to the moments after the loyalist bomb went off prematurely and he lay there as the gunfire rattled, hearing somebody shout: “Are all those bastards dead?”

“That was the day my father stopped loving me and that was the day my mother became incapable of loving me,” says one daughter.

The family was broken, she said.

Even now there are songs sung by their father which the sisters cannot listen to.

In a short phone call, Valerie said: “It doesn't get better, I still dream about Fran and it's terrible when you wake up and he's not here.”

This story of loss and grief echoing down the years is told with true skill by Susan McKay,

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