Born in 1927, showband legend Pat Burke is still making music at 90.
The big band icon, who has spent the past 70 years entertaining the crowds and keeping them dancing, will mark his landmark birthday at the Midleton Park Hotel, this weekend.
Monday 11 September is Pat Burke’s official birthday, however the Carrigtwohill Community, where he calls home for the past 40 years will celebrate in style from 4:00pm Sunday 10 September.
Over 120 people have been invited to join in the celebrations, which includes a dinner followed by music and dancing from 6:00pm – 9:00pm.
Special guests on the day include DJ Jimmy Reidy, accordionist Richie Ray and Willie Williamson of the Bluebell Quartet along with Frank McMahon who has played with Pat for the past 60 years.
Pat Burke has been belting out the tunes and playing his saxophone for over 7 decades and there’s good news for his long-term fan base, he doesn’t intend to quit.
Originally from Cahir Co Tipperary, Pat began his lifelong love of music at the Brass and Reed band in 1945.
Two years later he was spotted by Kevin Flynn and played with his show band until he went out on his own in 1963.
Throughout an era that had well over 600 bands on the circuit ‘the Pat Burke seven’ were among a handful that made music a lifelong career.
Touring the length and breadth of the country the band came across many strange customs, one of the oddest was the dance hall in Kanturk.
“The priest used to come out and say a decade of the rosary halfway through the show. No one took a blind bit of notice. He’d say Pat take a break. The band would go off stage and have a cup of tea and afterwards they’d go dancing again.”
There was one major problem with the dance halls Pat recalls.
“When you went in with your girlfriend, she went to one side of the hall and you’d go to the other. When the dances got called, it was like the charge of the light brigade, to cross the hall, to get to your girl before someone else got to her.”
Pat would work by day and played by night.
“My mother would say I was meeting myself getting up.”
In 1976 he moved to Cork with his job in the IAWS (Irish Agricultural Wholesale Service) in Tivoli and settled in Carrigtwohill.
Although any town in Ireland could be home to Pat, being recognised right across the country for his showmanship.
Even before he moved to East Cork 41 years ago, he was well known around these parts, a regular visitor to Red Barn Dance Hall Youghal and Cobh GAA. In 1955 Pat was the headline act who opened the Ladysbridge Dance hall that year.