The Untold Story of The C.J. Kickham Brass and Reed Band, Tipperary

1882   -   2007

125 Years

By

Michael J.Lynch 

The Music  -  The Members  -  The Memories


 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Band in 1904
The C.J. Kickham Band in 1904
The Band in 2007
The C.J Kickham Band in 2007

 The Band Hall
The Band Hall

The C.J. Kickham Band had many locations over the century and a quarter of its existence. Their final and permanent home in Davis St. Tipperary town is a building of much historical significance. The property was originally owned by the Religious Society of Friends, better known as the Quakers, who built it in 1708. An account surrounding the circumstances of the birth and development of the building is to be found in the history of "The Quaker Meeting Houses of Ireland".  
In the 1800s, the local Quaker community gradually declined and in the middle of that century, it was decided to amalgamate with a Meeting House in Cahir. The Tipperary House closed and lay idle for many years.

It was, however, used as an overflow from the local Workhouse during the Great Famine years. Conditions were evidently appalling, as it was a case of the poor and hungry trying to look after the really starving poor.

Around the end of the 19th century, a group of Tipperary people approached the Society of Friends with a view to buying the building in Davis St. Negotiations took place and sometime in  the early 20th century a new organisation, the Tipperary Temperance Club, acquired the old Quaker Hall. For the best part of a century, this Club provided a great social and cultural outlet for the young men of Tipperary and district. Card, snooker, billiard and table tennis tournaments were played. A daily paper was purchased and in the winter time a great open fire was provided.
         Band performing at Croke Park in 1922.
 
    T
he Band performing at Croke Park in 1922

In the early seventies, the social scene began to change once more. Then came the advent of the showbands, television in the home replaced "going to the pictures" and young men were now somewhat better off financially and more time and money was being spent in licensed premises. Membership of the Temperance Club dropped dramatically. The committee were a very realistic group of men and knew that the end of the Club was in sight. At the same time, they also knew that the C.J. Kickham Band was homeless and struggling.

A sharing of the building took place for some time but it was not a satisfactory arrangement. Negotiations regarding the purchase began and in 2003 the C.J.Kickham Band finally purchased the old Quaker Hall in Davis Street.

"People, their needs and habits change, but one thing always remains the same - the belief of the Society of Friends that God is in everyone, constant and true and forever enduring. Throughout good times and bad this intervention was always evident. The C.J. Kickham Band was homeless and desperately in need of a place of its own. The old walls heard the cry, the windows sighed and saw the need and God in His wisdom intervened - for God loves the music makers - they are His special children".


The Band's History

A review by Elizabeth Kelly

The beginnings of the Band will forever be connected with the emergence of the Fenian movement in Ireland in the mid to late 1800s. Household names like Charles J. Kickham, John O Leary and John Mitchell became very much associated with the development of the Band. A strong sense of nationalism continued to prevail in their ranks in the difficult period of the 
early 20th century and right through the War of Independence.

The C.J. Kickham Band in 1901

   C.J. Kickham Brass and Reed Band, March 1901       
There is a particular incident related to the infamous and tragic events of Bloody Sunday, indirectly connected with the Band and which is dealt with in an honest and sensitive manner.

I found 'The Untold Story" of the C. J. Kickham Brass and Reed Band a little gem of a book. From its title to the last rhythmic lines I was completely drawn into the loves, lives and traumas of a community, who allowed me the privilege of entering their circle of precious memory.

How often have we not all said: "If only I had listened to my grandfather, uncle, aunt and aged parents as they told and retold the little anecdotes of their lives"; we have all been guilty of neglecting to record our personal and precious family and local histories, discovering only too late what has been lost forever.

In this delightful book, the author Michael Lynch visited the homes of the elderly (and the not so elderly). Over many cups of tea by a blazing fire, he gathered the personal oral history of lost loved ones who gave so much to music, Tipperary and Ireland in their dedication and loyalty to the C.J. Kickham Band. Proudly they gave their photographs, paper cuttings and memorabilia - all this material combined with endless hours in the National Library in Dublin and the County Library in Thurles, succeeded in reclaiming a social and political history near lost forever. The title of the book "The Untold Story" is most apt indeed.

The Band at a Home Rule meeting in 1910.
The Band at a Home Rule Meeting in 1910
The story spans nearly 125 turbulent, war torn and lean years of Irish history. It brings to the reader a now nearly forgotten Ireland, an Ireland of strong, courageous and inspirational people - real people where the frivolity of today's affluence wasn't even an inspiration. This book awakens in the reader a sense of healthy pride of being Irish. It brings to us all a sense of local and family history that must never be forgotten.

Congratulations to all concerned in this worthy and valuable venture.

May the "CJK", as it is lovingly called, go from strength to strength and may they continue to make the music of its people ring out across the landscape of all lives wherever they may be.

        Purchasing "The Untold Story"

Copies of this book may be purchased from Patricia O'Brien, Bridge St. Tipperary (062.51085), or alternatively you can send an e-mail to michaellynchtipp@hotmail.com. The book costs 
€20 plus postage: €1.45 within Ireland and €4.30 elsewhere.

 


         The Band's Committee in 2007.

The Band Committee in 2007