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MEET OLIVE... BAGATELLE'S REAL NUMBER 1

Though Irish legends Bagatelle have been plying their trade now for an astonishing 42 years, earning gold & platinum albums along the way and playing to hundreds of thousands, its unlikely they have a bigger fan that Olive Ryan.

Here's her charming story about how see became Bagatelle's number 1 fan.


I grew up in a small village called Doon in County Limerick and used to listen to the radio a lot. 2FM had just started and they played so much new pop stuff. It was there that I first heard “Summer in Dublin”. I love a huge range of music, but this song stood out the first time I heard it over the airwaves. In 1980, my older brother Tony moved to Dublin for work. That was his first summer in Dublin, the reason why the song related to him.

One weekend Tony arrived home with Bagatelle’s first album on cassette. Naturally, I played it until it was nearly worn out. Yes, it had “Summer in Dublin” but I also discovered great tracks like “Trump Card”, “Leeson Street Lady” and “City Lights”, however my favourite was “Rock & Roll Fantasy”.

Soon after my brother got myself and my sister Norah tickets to go see Bagatelle in concert at the Savoy in Limerick. I can even remember the date. May 22nd, 1981.

I was 17 and this was my first concert, and the first chance I had to see Bagatelle. Needless to say, they were superb on the night and travelled the country to see the band perform.

I was busy studying for my Leaving Cert when Bagatelle’s second album was released. School priorities were put on hold and the only studying I was doing was listening to the groups new music and learning the lyrics! By the end of the summer I had worn out the album.

We had just got a big new stereo system in our school hall and my friend and I were in charge of playing the music at lunch time. It was a big hall, and everyone used to be up dancing, but I just wanted to play “Second Violin” over and over again!

It was a pity my specialty subject was not Bagatelle because I would have definitely got an A! It was great when they played in more local places like

Dromkeen in County Limerick or Dundrum in County Tipperary. Mind you, if the band were playing within a 90-mile radius of Limerick I was the first to know and the first to go!

Of course, my love of the group meant I had to be front row centre when Bagatelle played a gig, screaming the lyrics back to the band and hopping around like some mad possessed woman. By this stage the whole of Ireland had bought into Bagatelle. One of the highlights of my time as a fan was watching them play Siamsa Cois Laoi in 1982 when they played to over 40,000 (they returned again in 1983 and 1984 to which I went.)

Self-Aid would also prove to be a memorable moment - sharing the stage with the likes of Paul Brady, Van Morrison, Thin Lizzy and U2.

With their popularity at an all-time high I was delighted that the group kept churning out singles and albums at a rapid rate, meaning I didn’t have long to wait to buy that next Bagatelle album or single from my local record shop.

The level of song writing was superb. Their third album proved no different to the first two. You take songs like “Raining in Paris” and “Don’t Play A Sad Song” that are now almost 40 years old but still sound superb. I loved the cover of “Jersey Girl” but my favourite was “Midnight Child”, so much so anytime I went to see Bagatelle, I would ask Ken to sing it for me.

Years passed and I moved to Dublin. Yes, there was a temporary change in band personnel in the late Eighties, but I saw their reunion gig in the Spa Hotel in Lucan where Ken, Liam, John and Wally, got back together again.

The band were so nice to me on a personal basis, especially Ken. I remember seeing the band in the Shelling Hotel, Raheny. I met Ken just before the show started and he told me, “I have your song tonight”. I just could not believe it! Although it took 18 years of asking, he finally sang “Midnight Child” for me! It was amazing and I am so thankful to Ken for that memory which I will never forget. Mind you I saw them a few weeks later in the Submarine in Crumlin and guess what...Ken sang it for me again!

We all know those wonderful songs that followed throughout the 1980’s. Tunes like “All Fall Down Philadelphia”, “Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind” and “Cry Away The Night” to name just a few and I have all of their various compilation albums too. I cherish my almost fully complete collection of Bagatelle records, cassettes, and CDs. I was totally devastated when I heard that Bagatelle were doing their Final Year Tour but thankfully that hasn’t been the end of their story. When you see them perform and pack out venues like Vicar Street and the Olympia even after all this time you see how special the group still are to thousands of fans.

I am delighted to have my thoughts on record of my love for the band. I would like to thank them for giving me so many good times (with a special mention to Jim McQuillan.) They have been the soundtrack to my life, and I am so glad I can still see them play, many, many, years after I first got a £5.99 cassette of their first album from my brother!


Olive features heavily in "That Summer in Dublin!" The new Bagatelle book (here surname being Ryan and not Daly)

Ferrybank, Waterford, Ireland

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