The genesis of Derrybeg’s community success came when a group of sportsmen decided to raise funds in order to provide a strip for the local soccer team.
These men included Billy Scott, Bobby McAleavey, Jimmy Dalzell, Des McGennity, Mervyn Preece, Johnny McCaigue, Barney Larkin, Gene Magennis and Tony McLaughlin.
Derrybeg Athletic and Social Club was born. It acquired two surplus aluminium bungalows, used as dwellings at Clanrye Avenue. Lou Morgan’s skill as a joiner was called upon to convert the two structures into a social centre.
The Hilton Showband played in it, as also did future country singing star Rose Marie. There were also a number of local pop groups while Lottie McKeown staged a cabaret show with her ‘Dainty Darlings’, which Gene Magennis compered.
The Derrybeg Festival was launched to raise funds towards a proper Community Centre. So successful did it prove that local dignitaries fell over themselves to be photographed there! We had Members of Parliament, a host of local Councillors, local clergy and other VIPs.
The programme, which lasted a week, included a Fancy Dress Parade, a Talent Contest, a novelty pram race with well-known personalities dressed as babies; a piano-smashing contest; round-the-houses cycle races; ladies football matches, a band parade and a grand closing Festival Dance. Of course we had a Miss Derrybeg Festival Queen.
… more later …