A Brief History of the Barrack Street Concert Band

The Barrack Street Band was formed at the Mount Sion Christian Brothers School on Barrack Street in May 1870. The band was originally called “The Amateur Band” and were conducted by bandmaster Mr.Tiffin at there rehearsal room in Mt Sion School. The bands first performance was at the May processional in Mount Sion in 1870. Over the following years the band grew from strength to strength and was in ever increasing demand to perform around Waterford. With the ever increasing size of the band they had to seek new premises which became 130 Barrack Street and later moved further down the street in 1895. The band then changed there name to “The Barrack Street Brass and Reed Band “as new members were bringing new instruments such as reed instruments. In 1908 the band took part in there first competition which was organised by Fr. O’Connell. The competition took place to raise funds for the church organ. The band won first place in the brass and reed section and came third in the brass band contest.

The band has lived to tell many stories of Ireland’s history and more importantly Waterford’s history. The band have survived two world wars and also the civil was in Ireland however the band were attacked by the IRA during the fore mentioned war in 1922 outside the cathedral with several instruments being broken and thrown into the river suir. 1926 saw the band being broadcast in Irelands first national radio station Radio 2 RN. The band were the first civilian band to appear on the station and this broadcast led to great publicity which in turn led to further engagements. The 1940’s saw the band join the Reserve Navy where they played with members of the Navy and promoted the playing of music amongst them which saw new members joining and learning to read and play music for the first time. Twenty years later the band were forced to vacate the band room due to the room being condemned and due for demolition and the band took up residence in the Military Barracks until 1967 when the band purchased a site in Green Street and built there current band room by voluntary labour. The new band hall was officially opened on August 16th 1968.

The band played at many football matches in there time, the first saw them playing at the Waterford vs. Manchester United match in Lansdowne Road in the European Cup and again in 1980 at the same venue but this time against Glasgow Celtic. In 1980 the band played in the FAI Cup final in Dalymount Park where Waterford United won the game against St Patrick’s. A number of the bands clarinettists also played for Waterford United and it wasn’t an unusual occurrence to see three players rush off the pitch to play with the band at half time. 1981 saw the first female to join the band Aine McCarthy, she was 17 years old when she joined and is still an active member to this day. In 1982 the band changed its name to the one that is sononimous thought Waterford and Ireland today, The Barrack Street Concert Band. The new name reflected a change in instrumentation including flutes,saxophones,oboe and a full percussion section. This lead to more members joining the band and enabled wider variety of music to be played. Since the change the band has tripled in size and has a wider selection of instruments for new students to learn to play. In 1994 the band won the All Ireland Senior Military Band Championships in Wesley collage Dublin under the Baton of Mr Niall O’Connor and 10 years later in 2004 the band won the South of Ireland Senior Military band Championships in Clonakilty Co Cork under the Baton of the bands current musicial director Mr Mark Fitzgerald. This is only a brief account of the bands long and illustrious history well over a century in Waterford and hopefully more to come in the next century.          

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