By Eoin English
SHOWBAND legend Joe Mac was accorded a civic reception in his native city last night to honour his remarkable 50 years in the entertainment business.
Joe McCarthy, who helped form The Dixies, was described by Cork’s Lord Mayor, Cllr Seán Martin, as a legend in his own lifetime.
Surrounded by family, friends and colleagues, Joe said: "I’m absolutely overjoyed and overwhelmed to get such an accolade from the city I love so much.
"I have always devoted myself to what I do, giving my all to the music because I enjoy it so much."
He revealed The Dixies never had a business plan.
"We never looked further than where we were playing the next St Stephens night.
"It was hard work, blood, sweat and tears," he said.
Recommending a nap at tea-time to ensure a long life, Joe said he was still enjoying the music.
"I mean, Sinatra was at it ’til his 80s," he said.
Joe Terence McCarthy was born in Cork on August 6, 1936.
He served his time as an upholsterer in Cash’s (now Brown Thomas), where he met Ann Maloney.
They married in 1960 and had three children, Aiden, Joseph and Paul, and adopted their daughter Jennifer in 1968.
The Dixielanders - Joe Mac, Seán Lucey and Theo Cahill - played their first gig in UCC on Easter Sunday 1954 and shortened the name to The Dixies.
Band members over the years included pianist Mick Murphy, trumpeter Larry Neville, bassist Chris O’Mahony, Jimmy Mintem, Steve Lynch, vocalist Brendan O’Brien, John Sheehan and Finbarr O’Leary.
The band, based at Cork’s Arcadia, played all over the world and topped the bill at Carnegie Hall on September 26, 1964.
The Dixies’ biggest hit, Little Arrows, made number one on September 7, 1968. That same year, they were named Band of the Year and Joe Mac was named Showman of the Year in Spotlight magazine.
Joe will celebrate his 68th birthday on Friday with his 12,500th stage appearance at the sell-out Joe Mac Night in the Silversprings Moran Hotel in Cork.