The enduring appeal of Foster & Allen remains one of the great stories of Irish showbiz. The Westmeath duo will soon embark on their 22-date concert tour of Ireland, 49 years after they launched on the scene back in 1975.
It has been an extraordinary journey that has taken them all over Ireland, the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and a host of other places. They have featured on Top of the Pops, played many of the country’s big theatres, made themselves completely at home in Newfoundland, and still find time for homely sessions in some local hostelries in Westmeath.
Mick Foster and Tony Allen were honoured with the Gradam Na hÉigse Award – to honour the long-time commitment to Irish culture and heritage.
Seán and Frank O’Meara from Mullingar, who penned the much-loved classic, Grace, were also honoured with an award at the ceremony, which took place at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar, during Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann 2023.
Tony Allen is still enjoying the scene as much as ever. “It is always a privilege and a pleasure to bring our shows around the country and overseas. We love meeting people and sharing time with those who come to see us,” he says.
“Spending time with friends is one of the great pleasures of life. Who would have thought when Mick and I started out as Foster & Allen in the mid-1970s that we would still be playing to big crowds almost 50 years later.
“I had spent a time with Doc Carroll and the Night Runners before that, a band based in the Athlone area. Doc was the former lead singer with The Royal Blues and topped the charts with Old Man Trouble in 1966. Our good friend PJ Murrihy wrote a song about us called We Owe It All To You and the words are very true as we do indeed owe it all to the people who have been so supportive and loyal to us all down the years.”
Their latest album is called We’ll Meet Again and they will be performing a wide selection of songs from over the years as well as from more recent times on the tour that will take them from Belfast down to Kerry. The opening date will be on home ground at The Greville Arms Hotel in Mullingar on December 27 and the tour will conclude in the Royal Theatre in Castlebar on March 15, 2024.
Johnny celebrates 80th birthday in Galway
Castlerea native, Johnny Carroll, is celebrating his 80th birthday and his 67th year on the music scene. He was only 13 years of age when he stood on the stage for the first time.
Johnny started his career with The Premier Aces, a popular showband of the era based out of the Castlerea and Ballintubber region. The 1970s saw him featuring with Murphy and The Swallows and the 1980s marked a new departure when, under the guidance of Donie Cassidy, he recorded a trumpet album, which launched his solo career.
Since then, he has toured extensively all over Ireland and the UK as well as doing regular shows in Spain and Portugal and the USA.
Johnny, who has resided in Barna, Galway, for many years, will mark the occasion with a big night in The Clayton Hotel, Galway, on Tuesday, 28 November, where he will be joined by a host of friends for a celebratory concert.
The Conquerors will be the backing band for all the guest performers at the show in Galway and among those down to perform spots on the night are Mick Flavin, Shaun O’Dowd, John Glenn, Brendan Shine, and others. The big night has been organised by Julie Healy and the proceeds from the show are in support of the Galway Hospice.
Rebecca Storm returns to Dublin
Fresh from its premier at Kilkenny’s Watergate Theatre, the brand new Irish musical drama, Letters from the Front – written by award-winning theatre director Don O’Connor, from Kilkenny, and RTÉ musical director Ollie Hennessy, from Carlow – will play the O’Reilly Theatre, Belvedere College, Dublin 1 from 21-24 November.
The shows will feature West End leading lady, Rebecca Storm, in a starring role along with a cast of 35. This is the first original all-Irish musical drama in many years and tells the story of three families caught up in the turmoil of World War I. It follows the tale of young Irish couple Willie and Eileen from rural Kilkenny, forced to separate as Willie enlists to fight on the Western Front.
The new show is resonating in a deep and personal manner with Rebecca Storm. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of Letters from the Front and to bring this incredible story to Dublin for the very first time. It’s a powerful and moving piece of musical theatre. I actually have the letters written by my great-grandfather who fought at the Battle of the Somme, so these four performances in such an intimate Dublin venue will be very special,” says Rebecca.
Ollie Hennessy, who composed the music, says they are delighted to have Rebecca. “Having someone with such exceptional theatrical experience as Rebecca come on board makes us believe we have something special in this piece of musical theatre.”
Tickets available from eventbrite.ie and ticketmaster.ie, and from the Clayton Hotel for Johnny Carroll. Tickets for Foster & Allen’s concert shows from fosterandallen.ie and ticketmaster.ie Tickets for Letters from the Front are €34 and €30 for seniors/students and are on sale now from gr8events.ie.