Sadness following death of ‘interesting character’ and talented musician

THE Fermanagh community and wider music circle was left saddened by the sudden passing of Joey Gilheaney, formally of Drumcannon, Swanlinbar, aged 76 years..

Joey Gilheaney was a talented musician who rose to prominence as he was a part of the hit showband, Joe Dolan and The Drifters.

From a young age, Mr Gilheaney had a keen interest in music and joined his late uncle Sean’s band, The Red Sunbeam, where he played the trombone.


His musical talent didn’t go unnoticed for long and at just 16 years old, he was scouted by Joe Dolan and The Drifters.

Shortly after, he joined the original band as a trombonist.

Mr Gilheany, known to the showband world as The Gill, toured with ‘The Roaring Hyena’ for nine years, playing in venues in Ireland, Europe, America and across the world.

He later played the trombone in The Times Showband.

At the Requiem Mass, Fr Maurice McMorrow, a close friend of Mr Gilheaney, recalls his great love of music and how he was always willing to share stories and tell some tales of his career with the showbands.

“He was there bellowing out, and particularly the jazz numbers, and we had a mighty exchange that day. So much so, I got carried away and I sang a full song for him, entitled, ‘The Leader of the Band’ by Dan Fogelberg.

“He sat there, I think he was almost mesmerised by it.


“I was telling him stories, he was recounting to me and I was trying to recall and regale stories of the showbiz era. It was such a colourful time in our history and what great colourful musicians and singers we had.

“What an interesting character he was.”

Mr Gilheaney’s Requiem Mass was held at St Mary’s Church in Swanlinbar, followed by burial in the Killaduff Cemetary.

Mr Gilheaney is survived by his brother Sean and sister Margaret.

He is predeceased by his parents, Joe and Mary Ellen, and his late brother Peter.

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