Down memory lane to Clipper Carlton era at the Alley

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One of the show organisers Sinead McAteer of Strabane Writer’s Group, pictured with Art O’Hagan as the band rehearses for ‘The Art of the Showband’ performance at the Alley tomorrow.

THE songs of the Clipper Carlton are to be brought back to life through a special evening of music at the Alley Theatre.

Founded in the 1940’s as Hugh Tourish and the Carlton, the Clipper is regarded as the trailblazers for the showband craze that swept Ireland and beyond during the 1950s.


For over a decade the Clipper Carlton were arguably the biggest musical attraction in Ireland and they travelled the world with their unique singing style.

The original line up included Hugo Quinn on trumpet, Hugh Tourish on keyboard/piano, Terry Logue on sax, Mick O’Hanlon on drums, Art O’Hagan on bass and Fergus O’Hagan on vocals. Trombonist Victor Fleming joined the band in 1954.

Only Art O’Hagan is still alive today and following extensive interviews with him about the band’s adventures, a nostalgic evening of showband music has been put together.

Behind the  production is the council’s Music To Your Ears men’s group.

Set up in 2016 and led by musicians Mickey Joe Harte, Terry McCafferty and Kieran Gallen, the project is geared towards offering people the chance to either pick up an instrument for the first time or to hone the skills they already have.

The latest production, dubbed ‘The Art of the Showband’, will be the group’s second big performance following a sell out show at the Alley last year.

Looking forward to the showband show on January 13, Mickey Joe Harte urged those attending to bring their dancing shoes.

“Based largely on the life and times of Ireland’s first ever showband, The Clipper Carlton, and with a script derived from extensive interviews with the band’s only surviving member Art O’Hagan this production tells the true story of how a Dixieland band from Strabane carved out a phenomenally successful career throughout the 50s and early 60s,” Mickey Joe said.

“This production includes some of the most popular songs from the Clipper’s set list and the showband era in general, with some comic slapstick sketches cleverly weaved throughout the script.

“Filled with music from popular showbands of the time, including the legendary Clipper Carlton, Dickie Rock, Brendan Boyer’s Royal, Jimmy Shand and Joe Dolan to mention just a few, this show is set to be a sell out and a great night full of nostalgia and entertainment. Come along and bring your dancing shoes,” Mickey Joe added.

Renowned pianist Gordon Harper will perform a selection of tunes from the showband era in the Alley’s reception era from 7.15pm with curtain up on the main show from 8pm.

Tickets are £5 and available from the Alley box office on 02871 384444 or from


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