THE HOLYROOD HOTEL – A BIRTHPLACE FOR MUSIC
The Holyrood has long had a strong connection with music. Not only has the hotel launched the career of many well-known singers and musicians over the years, it’s also served as a venue for stars of the musical and entertainment business. It continues to attract musicians to this day. In fact, you never know when an impromptu session might take place!
The Spinning Wheel Bar - It all started with the Spinning Wheel bar, which opened in April 1969, following the renovation of the hotel at the time. This had allowed the basement area of two B&B’s to be knocked into one, creating a new below-ground bar.
The idea was to use the area for weddings and dances at first, but it soon became a venue too for local and visiting musicians.
The Wolfe Tones played there twice the year it opened, as did The Pattersons, a well known local band at the time. Brush shields played at the Spinning Wheel shortly after it opened and Phil Lynottt and his band performed there on a number of occasions between 1969 and 1971.
Paul Brady is another famous singer and musician who performed in the Spinning Wheel. He worked as a barman there at the time and would often join in with local musicians for a session. Maurice Lennon who also worked in the bar went on to be a founding member of the famous Stockton’s Wing.
The well-known pianist Phil Coulter frequented the Spinning Wheel and was often to be found at the piano, playing until the early hours of the morning.
The Waterfront Bar - When the Waterfront Bar opened in 1992, it too attracted musicians, singers and entertainers. Mike Denver, Robert Mizzell and Mickey Joe Harte all played there at the beginning of their careers. Indeed Mike Denver and Robert Mizzell went on to become well known stars of the Country music scene. Mickey Joe Harte, meanwhile, sang for Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2003.
The Holyrood Hotel Ballroom - The ballroom of the Holyrood Hotel, with its spacious interior, stage and fantastic acoustics, has long been a venue for performers. It was, in fact, launched by the popular singer Big Tom in 1976. At that stage, only half of the ballroom roof had been constructed, but luckily the rain held off that night!
Other stars that have performed there over the years include Philomena Begley, Paddy Cole, Joe Dolan, Charlie Pride and Brendan Shine. Mick Flavin, Margo, Daniel O’Donnell, Michael English, Mike Denver, Jimmy Buckley, Sandy Kelly, Declan Nerney, Robert Mizzell have all played the Holyrood Ballroom. Others include Dickie Rock, Dominic Kirwan, Mary Duff, Gloria, Larry Cunningham, Richie Kavanagh and Brendan Bowyer and the comedian Brendan Grace.
Bands that have performed there include: American Drifters, Memories, The Plattermen, The Fureys, Foster and Allen, Bjorn Again, Smokie, Bagatelle, The High Kings, The Wolfe Tones, Makem and Clancy, The Dubliners and Bagatelle.
Summertime Marquee - The Holyrood Hotel also hosts concerts within a marquee on its grounds in the summer. Performers have included Meatloaf, Chris De Burgh, Shane Ward of X Factor fame and the comedian Des Bishop.
To this day, the Holyrood continues to attract talented performers from other parts of the country and abroad. In fact, you never know who you may be rubbing shoulders with, or what music you may experience. But this is part of its unique charm and one of the many reasons to visit.