The Raindrops, Galway

Related: Big Time, Donie Collins, Millionaires, Swingtime Aces, Ohio

Galway band The Raindrops evolved from Mulhaire’s Céili Band, one of the west of Ireland’s most popular bands during the 1950s. Tommy Mulhaire’s son, Brendan, an All-Ireland champion button-accordionist, took up the guitar, and soon rock ‘n’ roll and chart hits began to replace the “Walls of Limerick” and the “Siege of Ennis”! Joining Brendan in the new showband were Dermot Walsh (rhythm guitar/vocals), Eamonn Joyce (bass guitar), Ken Moody (trumpet), John Conneely (tenor sax/accordion) and Jimmy Cooley (drums).

Throughout their existence, The Raindrops had five different lead vocalists, first Dermot Walsh and then a young man who went on to make a big name for himself as a professional actor. In the early days of Irish television, many years before “The Riordans” or “Glenroe” graced our screens,  “Tolka Row” was the flagship series in RTE’s drama department. Playing Seán Nolan, the teenage son in the series was Jim Bartley, who now plays the part of Bela Doyle in “Fair City”. Keeping the stage-name Seán Nolan, Bartley joined The Raindrops as frontman and being a young heart-throb at the time, the girls began to flock to see him perform! After a year, he decided to step down and concentrate on acting, and he was replaced by Dubliner Chris Grace who came from the Donie Collins Showband. Chris recorded a successful single while with the Galway band, combining “Less Of Me” with “Lonely Town”. In the early '70s, The Raindrops relaunched the band as The Big Time.

Sadly, Dermot Walsh and Francie Higgins are deceased. Brendan Mulhaire, Eamonn Joyce, Billy Barrett, Waltie Lynch and Johnny Shiels still play locally around Galway. John Conneely lives and plays in Boston, Massachusetts. Jimmy Higgins went into management for a number of years and now presents “Those Were The Days” on Galway Bay FM. Brendan Mulhaire’s daughter Michelle has followed her father’s footsteps and is a brilliant keyboard-player, featuring with retro-band “Bandstand” at Galway’s Salthill Hotel. Jim Higgins Jnr. was a member of The Stunning and having toured with “Riverdance”, now plays with The Sawdoctors.

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Town/Village/County: Galway

Vocals: Dermot Walsh / Seán Nolan / Chris Grace / Vinnie Mongan
Lead Guitar:
Brendan Mulhaire
2nd Guitar:
Dermot Walsh
Eamonn Joyce
Ken Moody / Jimmy Higgins
John Conneely / Francie Higgins
Jimmy Cooley / Billy Barrett / Paddy Higgins / Walter Lynch
Brendan Mulhaire / Jimmy Higgins

Discography (compiled by Eddie Kelly)

The Raindrops

1970: Less Of Me / Lonely Town - Ruby RUB106 (Chris Grace)
1971: Mason's Apron (Brendan Mulhaire) / Knock On My Window (Dermot Walsh) - Ruby RUB119

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