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08 Dec 2021

Laois marching band is ‘dying a death’

Laois marching band ‘dying a death’ for lack of members

St Joseph's Accordion Band marching on St Patrick's Day. The band is in danger of folding unless they get more players.

One of Laois’ most famous marching bands is ‘dying a death’.

St Joseph’s Accordion Band has put out a desperate plea for new members.

The Portlaoise band had to cancel its performance at the Laois County hurling final for the first time in 50 years this month, because of a lack of members available to play.

It is in danger of folding altogether according to Bandmaster Peter Smith.

“We are dying a death. We are all getting old and we have lost great members who have died or gone into nursing homes. We need extra players urgently,” he said.

The band is marching for 63 years and is a beloved sight in many parades around Laois marching with their traditional tunes on St Patrick’s Day, at Christmas events around the county and at match days.

They have their own cosy bandroom in Portlaoise where they practice twice a month. They play the piano and button accordions, tin whistle and drums. Joining is free, instruments are loaned free and musical training is free as are their smart uniforms, all funded by their public fundraising.

They will hold an open afternoon at their centre, on the lane off Grattan Street, next Sunday November 3 from 2 to 4pm.

“If anyone has ever played an accordion or tin whistle, please help us out at the eight or 10 parades we do a year. Please come on the open day and talk to us. You are welcome from any part of the county or even other counties, from the age of 10 to 80. We do have three young members from Mountmellick Comhaltas but we need more young people,” Peter said. 

“Please let’s not let the band go. So many bands have gone all over the country,” he said.

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