Our history - a brief synopsis from 1884!
St. Eugene’s Brass and Reed Band was formed in 1884. At that time the tendency of working men to gather in public houses at the end of their working day and to spend their modest wages on alcohol was seen by the major churches as a scandal. Families then were generally much larger than nowadays and the plight of hungry wives and children was the motivation behind the founding of the Temperance Movement. In common with other churches, a band was established in Omagh known as St. Eugene’s Temperance Band and this band led the large rallies that were held in support of the temperance movement.
The temperance movement is now a part of Irish history but our band has survived to the present day. There have been significant changes since the formation of the band. We are now firmly cross-community based and we have welcomed ladies into our ranks. Many of the musicians in the band have, over the years, been drawn from long established Omagh families including the Turbetts, Chesters, Moores, Mathers, Rodgers, Givens, Boyles and Meylers.
Brian Turbett was conductor of the band in the late 1940’s and his son, Philip, is probably the band’s most famous former member. Following a successful career playing bassoon professionally, Philip became Professor of Chamber Music at London’s Trinity College and is currently Manager of the English National Opera Orchestra.
In the late 1960’s the Irish ‘Show Band’ scene was just taking off and many of the most famous bands were based in Omagh. These included The Platters, Melody Aces, Swing Earls, The Comets, The Polka Dots and The Buckaroos, to name a few. Many of the brass and woodwind players in these successful bands had their beginnings in St. Eugene’s Band.