The Skyrockets, Enniskillen

Related: Trenniers, GentsMillionaires, Dave Dixon

The Skyrockets began as the Cecil Kettyles Orchestra in Enniskillen in the 1950s. Included in the line-up were Gary McGowan (Drums), Brian McGandy and Tommy & Peter Watson (saxophones), Paddy Love and Leo McGandy (trumpets), Ignatius Irvine (bass), Mickey Quinn (vocals) and Cecil Kettyles (piano). They rehearsed in Nora Kettyle's house.

When they orchestra disbanded some of the members emigrated to Britain and the U.S.A. Cecil joined the Dave Dickson Orchestra from Clones. In 1957, he formed the Skyrockets with this line-up: Paddy McDermott (tenor sax), Leo McGandy (trumpet), Dermot Doherty (trombone), Brian McGandy (alto sax), Peter Watson (drums), Henry McCullough (guitar), Frankie Fox (bass) and Cecil Kettyles (piano).

Through the years, there were many changes in the Skyrocket’s line-up. Some members of the band left and formed The Gents fronted by vocalist Gene Chetty. Musicians such as Ivan McBride, Dessie McKeown, Dick Barton and Gary McGowan replaced members who left. Frank O’Neill, Pat McGeegan (father of boxer Barry McGuigan), Penny Starr, Alfie Merrigan, Gerry Cornally and Brendan (Liffey) O’Brien spent time with the band.

Some of their best venues were The Rainbow, Glenfarne; The Fiesta, Letterkenny; The Astoria, Bundoran and The Farmers Ballroom, Virginia. Like many top showbands of that time, their programme consisted mainly of punchy brass arrangements of chart hits of the day, soul, Motown, Beatles, rock ‘n’ roll and big ballads.

Vocalist Pat McGeegan represented Ireland in the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest in the Royal Albert Hall, London, with Chance Of A Lifetime, and was placed 4th. Other records included Hawaain Wedding Song and Red Rose sung by Pat McGeegan and After The Dance and Noreen Bawn sung by Penny Starr. Each year the band toured England and Scotland, the annual tour usually lasting eight weeks.

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Vocals: Mickey Quinn / Frank O’Neill (Neil Franks) / Penny Starr
Lead Guitar: Henry McCullough
2nd Guitar: Brendan (Liffey) O’Brien
Bass: Ignatius Irvine / Frankie Fox
Trumpet: Paddy Love / Leo McGandy
Sax/Clarinet: Paddy McDermott / Brian McGandy / Ivan McBride
Trombone: Dermot Doherty
Drums: Gary McGowan / Peter Watson / Alfie Merrigan
Piano/Organ: Cecil Kettyles

Instrument? Gerry Cornally, Dessie McKeown, Dick Barton


1966: Noreen Bawn / After The Dance - Emerald MD1035 (Penny Trent)
1966: Looking Back / Red Rose - Emerald MD1061 (Pat McGeegan)
1968: Chance Of A Lifetime / Don't Laugh At Me If I Cry - Emerald MD 1096
1968: Mr. Lonely One / The Last word In Lonesome Is Me - Emerald MD 1112
1969: Calling Your Name / Adios Amigo - Emerald MD 1124









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