The Early Years:

In the mid 1950s a committee was formed among the 400 strong staff of Stedfast Shoes Ltd, Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan to investigate the possibility of setting up a brass band. The committee comprised of Pete Woods, Sean O’Reilly, Charlie Gartlan, Kevin O’Farrell, John Hollowood, Pete O’Shea, Joe Brennan, Jim Connolly and Jim Boyle.

The committee entered an arrangement with the factory management whereby the company would purchase the instruments required and the workers would then repay them by having one shilling deducted from their wages weekly.


Bill McMahon from Dundalk was appointed as the first bandmaster, a position he held until his death some twenty years later, while Sam Bedford was appointed assistant bandmaster. Bill brought his son Gene with him and Thomas Carroll, a trombone player. The first band room was established on Ivy Lane, which is now part of the Supermacs restaurant and practicing began in earnest.

The original uniform chosen by the band was a military style in black with gold trimmings and a green stripe on the trousers.

With all the pieces of the jigsaw in place the band, which was exclusively male, made its first public appearance in 1958 when it led the annual Corpus Christi procession. This event was attended by Paul Alexander who was president of the Irish Shoes and Leather Workers Union at the time. Based on what he saw and heard that day, he immediately booked the band to lead the annual Saint Crispin’s Parade in nearby Dundalk, Co. Louth. From those early days the band continued to grow from strength to strength, expanding its repertoire, improving its musical strength and performing at numerous events throughout the North East.

The Demise of the Irish Shoe Industry:

Stephen Hartley, an avid music lover, who joined the band and became its chairman, had replaced Stan Taylor as factory manager. Under his guidance the band changed its uniform to a more casual blue jacket with grey trousers in 1973.

However as the band moved towards the 1970s the face of the Irish shoe industry was changing rapidly. Ireland’s entry to the EEC led to the removal of the quota system which had restricted imports of shoes to Ireland hence protecting the domestic industry. Many of the factory workers, including band members, lost their jobs and were forced to move further afield to seek new employment. In order to secure the future of the band the committee decided to extend membership to non-factory employees. This proved to be a deciding factor for the future of the band when in May 1975 production at the Stedfast Shoes factory was dramatically reduced but luckily the band continued on. The factory eventually closed in 1988.

Having opened its doors to non-factory employees, the band changed from an adult only band in the mid seventies by offering membership to both boys and girls from the age of ten upwards. Jim McCarthy had taken over as band master at this stage and under his guidance the juvenile members made considerable musical progress. A lot of the original instruments were replaced with silver plated instruments being introduced for the first time.

The band moved homes a number of times and having spent some years in a unit further down Ivy Lane, moved to the Old Fever Hospital on The Shercock Road in 1980. The building was in need of major refurbishment, which was carried out successfully with the aid of ANCO.

Building on Success:

The band hosted a major brass band festival in 1981 with seven bands taking part. By 1984 the band had a membership of approximately fifty members. A lot of these members were young and musically inexperienced and therefore the band found itself having to turn down quite a number of engagements. Francie O’Donoghue acted as secretary and bandmaster between 1985 and 1987 and played a major part in getting the band back in shape along with a number of other key members.

To help further improve the band’s playing ability both Harry Kelly and Mark McLoughlin (Ardee Concert Band) were brought in to help tutor members including a number of former members who had returned to the bands ranks. This work was continued into the 1990s under the guidance of Tom Larney, Francie Montague and Pauric O’Reilly who all took turns as bandmaster. Jim Conlon held the position of bandmaster for a number of years in the mid nineties.

In 1992 the band purchased its current uniform, which is fashioned on the military style used by the original band. The first engagement the band wore the new uniform on was the raising of the flag at Carrickmacross courthouse on Easter Sunday that year.

With the musical ability of the band back on a high the band hosted another major brass band festival in Carrickmacross on Easter Sunday 16th April 1995. On this occasion the following ten bands gave short recitals; An Lochrann Linn Youth Band Carrickmacross, Monaghan Community Brass Band, St. Mary’s Brass Band Kingscourt, Blanchardstown Brass Band, Dundalk Brass Band, Navan Brass Band, Louth Village Brass Band, Kells Silver Band, Drogheda Brass Band and Lourdes Brass Band Drogheda. The day concluded with a massed band parade through the town. Photo

Home Again:

The band spent a short time in a unit in the Stedfast Industrial Estate in the late 1990s. In 2000 it moved ‘home’ to its current purpose built band rooms in the same development close to where it all started many years earlier. Photo

Francie Montague was appointed band master for the second time in 1999,a position he held until his death in 2010.

In September 2006 the band officially opened their new band rooms as part of their ‘50 years of music’ celebrations. Seven of the founding members were in attendance and were each presented with a specially framed double picture of the original and present day members. The founding members present were Jim McCarthy, Francie O’Donoghue, Francie Treanor, Michael Cullivan, Michael Rafferty, Patsy McConnon, Jim Gartlan, Kevin O’Farrell & Cyril Meegan. Mrs Cunningham, Phylis McEvoy, and Maisie O’Shea who were married to deceased founder members were also in attendance.

The celebrations also featured a brass band festival with recitals by Ardee Concert Band, Kingscourt Concert Band, Monaghan Brass Band, An Lochrann Linn Brass Band and Blanchardstown Brass Band.

In 2007 the band complimented their existing uniform with a stylish weather proof coat. That same year it renewed its longstanding friendship with Blanchardstown Brass Band. Since then both bands have hosted a number of joint rehearsals and given recitals in Carrick on Shannon, Farmleigh House, Carlingford and St Stephens Green.

In recent years the band have upgraded a lot of their musical instruments and greatly expanded its music library. We strive to maintain a high standard of musical ability while enjoying our rehearsals, recitals and social outings.

We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank all those who have supported us since the band was formed and look forward to providing a high standard of musical entertainment for many years to come.

A painter paints pictures on canvas.  But musicians paint their pictures on silence - Leopold Stokowski