He may be 80 but music legend Joe Mac is still clowning around, as he showed last night when he was guest of honour at a special civic reception in Cork City Hall.

The ex-Dixies drummer said he was “honoured and humbled” to be accorded the reception for his birthday because, at his age, the presents were “usually a stairlift, wheelchair, nappies, and a voucher for the crematorium”.

He said he had many happy memories playing gigs with the Dixies in City Hall and pointed out that his father, John, worked a stonemason on its reconstruction in the mid-1930s.

“I don’t think he’d have ever imagined that one day his son would get a civic reception here,” Joe said.

However, Joe has no intention of giving up playing any time soon.

“I’m still gigging every Sunday at Canty’s Bar in Pembroke Street from 6pm to 6pm,” he said. “They’re having a special birthday bash for me there next Sunday. I’m reasonably fit still because that’s my weekly workout gyrating around the place and most Tuesdays I also play golf.”

Joe was accompanied to the event by his wife Ann, his two sons, two daughters, nine grandchildren, and great grandchild.

He recalled how the original band was named the Dixielanders.

“In 1960 or 1961 we decided to shorten the name to the Dixies, because it actually stood out better on the posters.”

In 1968, the band had its biggest hit with ‘Little Arrows’, which reached Number 1 on September 7 and stayed in the charts for 20 weeks.

In 1970, the Dixies went to Las Vegas, appearing at Howard Hughes’ Desert Inn.

Joe and the late Brendan O’Brien left the band in 1972 and formed Stage Two. They reformed the Dixies in 1982, not expecting to have the same impact.

“But then it all took off again and we were another 10 years at it,” Joe said.

Joe and Sean Lucey are the only surviving members of the band.

“He was the sax player and managed us a bit as well. He’s living in Ballinlough and we ring each other occasionally to keep in touch.”

Lord Mayor Des Cahill said there were very few living legends left in Cork, but Joe was certainly one.

“Over a year ago, I became aware that his 80th was coming up and I pencilled it in my diary to acknowledge it and in the meantime made approaches to his family,” said Mr Cahill said.

“It would be remiss of me as Lord Mayor not to acknowledge what he’s done for the city.”

Mr Cahill also arranged for a special birthday cake to me delivered.


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