Ronan Collins with Big Band and Singers will play the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery on Saturday, February 8. The show, which is in aid of the Ethiopian Deaf Project, will feature Joe Dolan’s Classic’s such as ‘You’re Such A Good Looking Woman’,’The Answer To Everything’, ‘It’s You It’s You It’s You’ and much much more. The self-confessed “old-fashioned DJ” takes time out of his busy schedule to tell Mary O’Brien why this project is close to his heart and why playing in West Cork is a “labour of love”.
Ronan Collins has been around a long time, long enough to recall that “if a band was successful in Cork, it was a good indicator of the response you could expect in other parts of the country. Cork audiences always told it to you straight,” he says.
A drummer with Dickie Rock in the 70s, Ronan has played every hall in West Cork, which is one of the reasons he’s really looking forward to returning to straight-talking West Cork to play in Rosscarbery. The other reason is the Ethiopian project that the show is in aid of. Ronan has visited Ethiopia on a number of occasions with Self Help Africa. The event is being organised by Miriam O’Regan, a member of the Ethiopian Deaf Project, who has two adopted children from Ethiopia, one of whom is deaf. “Miriam is a great person and I’m delighted to be doing something in support of a charity that is fundraising to build a school for deaf children in Ambo Ethiopia,” says Ronan.
Ronan admits that although he didn’t think he’d still be gigging at the age of 61, he’s the type of person who takes each day as it comes. “I’ll continue as long as I enjoy it and people want me to play,” he says.
Playing to audiences ranging in size from 400 to 1200 all over the country, ‘The Showband Show’ has been a phenomenal success for Ronan, who first started compiling a cd of showband hits six years ago. “As the years go on, the sad fact is that many of the showbands are gone. Dickie Rock and Brendan Bowyer are two of the remaining greats,” says Ronan. “How did it start?…I started singing a few of the songs while compiling the cd and now we have a show. It’s pure nostalgia.”
Ronan began his national radio career on RTÉ Radio 2, having worked on the pirate radio scene in Dublin in the late 70s. His show on Radio RTE 1 has been running since 1985. He presented the celebrity game show ‘Play the Game’ from 1984 to 1995 and would also be recognised from his time presenting the ‘Lotto’ draw on RTE. Over his 35-year radio career, his enthusiasm for his work has never waned. “I wouldn’t call what I do work, I like it too much,” he explains. Ronan names Larry Gogan and Dickie Rock as two of his biggest inspirations over the course of his career. “Larry always moved along with the music trends and I learned a lot about performing from Dickie.”
When it comes to music, Frank Sinatra and The Beatles are firm favourites. “I probably know too much about them, it’s an unhealthy obsession,” he says laughing. A current favourite on the charts is ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. “I love being surprised by new songs like that.”
Looking back, Ronan doesn’t really have any regrets except perhaps not getting a third level education. “I wasn’t very diligent at school and I didn’t realise until much later on that knowledge and information gives you more chances in life. Saying that however, if I’d done things differently it might have changed the course of my 45-year career, and I wouldn’t want that.”
He also feels blessed to be married to the same great woman for the last 36 years. The couple shares a great interest in film. “One of our favourite things to do is go out for a meal and a movie,” says Ronan, who no matter where he is still feels honoured when a fan approaches him to say hello. “It’s the biggest compliment a fan can pay you,” he says sincerely.
Ronan Collins with Big Band, Celtic Ross Hotel, Sat 8 Feb, In Aid of the Ethiopian Deaf Project
Ticket & Wine reception only €22.50
Ticket, Pre-show dinner & Wine reception – €42.50
Ticket, Pre-show dinner &Wine reception plus B&B on the Saturday night – €77.50 pps
Ticket, Pre-show dinner & Wine reception plus B&B on Fri and Sat night €102.50 pps
TICKETS AVAILABLE THROUGH THE CELTIC ROSS HOTEL – (023)884 8722