Collection of showband mementos donated to Fermanagh County Museum

Skyrockets donation to Fermanagh County Museum

Published: 18th March 2016

A large collection of memorabilia relating to Fermanagh’s first showband, ‘The Skyrockets’, has been donated to Fermanagh County Museum.

The family of the late Cecil Kettyles, who lived at Derrygore Terrace, Enniskillen and founded the famous showband in 1958, made the generous donation to Fermanagh County Museum so that ‘the band’s memories can be kept alive’.

The collection, which includes photographs, personal diaries and an original Skyrockets LP record, will be documented, archived and preserved by the Museum for future generations to enjoy.

Speaking about their decision to donate the collection, Cecil’s daughter, Noreen Kettyles, said:

While it was a big decision to let go of very personal and sentimental photos and memorabilia belonging to our father and the Skyrockets Showband, we had to think of the bigger picture, and the longer term in this regard. You hear time and time again of old photos and items being lost or thrown out in families over time, as they are handed down from generation to generation. We wanted to guard against this ever happening. We also had to think about what our father would have wanted. We are in no doubt that he would be so proud that memories of a band he founded, was so passionate about, and had so much fun in, will be preserved in a Museum and kept alive for generations to come.

During the golden showband era, ‘The Skyrockets’ achieved much success, touring with Bridie Gallagher from Donegal and Frank Carson, the comedian. In 1959 the band played a concert in London’s Royal Albert Hall to an audience of 5,000 and performed in venues across Ireland including Enniskillen’s Townhall, where they played more than 20 times between 1961 to 1963.

In 1968 ‘The Skyrockets’ lead singer, Pat McGeegan performed at the Eurovision Song Contest, achieving fourth place and launching the band into new heights of stardom.

The band then embarked on a two year tour, playing in venues in the UK, Germany and Spain. During this time, ‘The Skyrockets’ also released a number of singles including ‘After the Dance’ and ‘Noreen Bawn’, which was sung by Penny Star and went on to reach number two in the Irish Charts.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council operates Fermanagh County Museum as part of its Museum Services.

Thanking the Kettyles family for their donation to Fermanagh County Museum, Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Thomas O’Reilly, said:

We are very pleased and grateful to receive this personal gift from the Kettyles family which will extend the Museum’s collection.

The Skyrockets’ collection is an important part of our local heritage. We are delighted that this part of our history will be recorded and archived so that future generations will be able to appreciate just what it was to be part of the showband era.

A £3.5 million Heritage Gateway project to refurbish four existing buildings including Fermanagh County Museum and part of the Castle courtyard within the Enniskillen Castle complex is currently ongoing and is expected to be ready for summer 2016.

Works to transform the site into the cultural and heritage gateway of the Fermanagh and Omagh district and beyond include a new state of the art Visitor Centre with a tourism, heritage and genealogy information service, café, shop, four new galleries and exhibition spaces and interactive activity areas.

The £3.5 million project has received funding from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, Tourism NI, the European Regional Development Fund, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and the Friends of Fermanagh County Museum.


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