On Sunday 25th October, The Band was invited to give a recital in The Maldron Hotel, John Redmond Street. This was to make the 25th Anniversary of the closure of the then North Infirmary.
When the Shandon Bells Clock stopped, it struck a chord with local residents who decided to hold a fundraising concert to generate money to get the clock fixed. Fortunately with the huge public support to see the clock ticking again Cork City Council made funds available for the clock to be fixed. But what about the concert you ask?
The Fundraising concert still went ahead but instead of raising money for the Shandon Bells, the money was raised for local Shandon voluntary organisations, including:
The Shandon Street Festival, The Mother Jones Festival, Coffa House, The Tidy Towns and The Cork Butter Exchange Brass & Reed Band.
The Cork Butter Exchange Brass & Reed Band was established in 1878, with no surviving records from the 1800’s and it is difficult to know how the band came into being. Many of the older band members would contend that it was indeed in existence before 1878 but with no written record from this period. The band’s history before this time remains clouded.
Records show that a band did exist in the Shandon area before 1878.
A reference in the Cork Examiner refers to a band in 1841, this band was known as St. Mary’s Band and begins the journey of The Butter Exchange Band, but as a result of the Famine this band fell apart. In 1850 a priest by the name of Fr. Mac Namara come to the North Cathedral.
With his help the band was once again reformed and continued for many years under his musical direction. Known locally as Mac Namara’s Band.
When Fr. Mac Namara moved to a different parish the band changed back to its original name of St. Mary’s Band and in 1878 the local Butter Market became the sponsors of the band, hence the name “The Butter Exchange Brass & Reed Band” known locally as the “The Buttera”.
Down through the years band has taken part in many historical events, The Buttera played at the graveside of Charles Stuart Parnell on the occasion of the first anniversary of his death in 1892.
Also around this time The Buttera were playing at a band engagement in Mallow where a member of the Royal family was present, when the baton was raised by the Conductor instead of playing “God Save The Queen” the band struck up an Irish air. Imagine this happening at the Royal visit in 2011? During the 1900’s band members owned their own uniform, this uniform was a military style tunic with piping down the side of the trousers and a pill box hat, when bandsmen fell on hard times money was given to tide them over and members were given money if they lost a days pay to play with The Band.
In May 1910 the Band while marching down Shandon St. with the Quary Lane & Blackpool Band, who were supporters of John Redmond and William O’Brien. They got involved in a fight with the Parnell Guards who were based in the Shandon St. area, this resulted in instruments been tossed into the River Lee and band members been injured. Band rooms were broken into and instruments either stolen or damaged. Unfortunately like most families and institutions in that era most of there men ended up fighting together in World War I.
When the band went on outings in 1931 it was decided by the committee that 3 gallons of beer would be sufficient for such outings and temperate men received a double pack of cigarettes.
In the 1940’s many new young members were recruited from the North Mon and a number came from Green Mount School, these schools were well known for their bands and the Buttera was fortunate to get these players who were already trained musicians.
In the 1950’s the biggest event was the Corpus Christi Procession which the band has lead each year since it first began. Another event was the Manchester Martyrs March, this begin at the Court house and continued to the Grand Parade where the last post was played. Across from this paragraph is a photograph of an actual Quotation from The Cork Butter Exchange Brass & Reed Band to play at the Old Fianna Éireann March on Easter Monday 1956 for the sum of £5. One wonders how much this would be worth today?
As well as the musicians and committee members the band also had another very important group of members. They are the non-playing members and around the 1960s were known as Baggagemen. Before that there were known as Carriagemen. They had a very important role in the everyday running of the band by helping in any way they could. This most often involved carrying instruments, stands, chairs, music etc. and were very loyal to the band. Unfortunately we no longer have any non-playing members in the band and the musicians now have to march with their own instruments!
Over the years many bandsmen became involved in Show Bands. The Dolly Butler Dance Band, The Dixies, The Circles, Skyliners, The Dukes of Jazz and Milford to name but a few.
One of the most dedicated members of the band down through the years was Mick Cronin. Mick joined the band in the 1940’s and continued as a loyal member of the band for over 50 years. Mick was always especially appreciated for his kindness towards new members.
For many years the band was an all male band, from time to time in the 1970s a lady by the name of Miss O’Connor could be seen playing with the band. In 1978 the first official female member Patricia Coleman Harrington was allowed to join the band. She was later followed by Laura Field and then Veronica Lynch. Today almost half of the band is made up of female members.
In 1984 the Band decided to take on a new sponsor Murphy's Brewey Ltd. From as far back as 1971 there were good ties between the Band and workers in the Brewery. With this new sponsorship came new uniforms (now the iconic Maroon colour of the Band) and new instruments. The Band once again changed its name to "The Murphy's Butter Exchange Band".
In 1993 the Band participated in the first Massed Bands of Cork City Concert. This included St. Nicholas Brass Band, The Cork Barrack's Street Band and Mayfield Brass Band. The concert was a great success and the successing years enjoyed bigger productions and larger audiences.
1995 was a big year for the Band. It was marked by a historic trip to Kingscourt Co. Cavan. Here the Band was hosted by St. Mary's Brass & Reed Band who where excellent hosts. The Band was given a tour of Doonaree and The Mountains of Mourne. The trip was a great success and saw both bands perform at a joint concert with a massed bands recital at the end.
Also in this year the Band was forced to leave it's historic home on John Redmond Street as the Band was no longer able to get insurance cover as there was flammable substances being stored under the Bandroom. The Cork Arts Committee offered support to paid the lease for the Band to rehearse in The Firkin Crane while a more suitable room could be found. In September 1995 the official opening of the new Bandroom at 48 Dominic St. was held in The Firkin Crane Centre. St. Mary's Brass & Reed Band were invited back down to Cork for the grand opening and made this historic ocassion extra special.
In September 2008 a civic reception was held for the Band by the Lord Mayor and Cork City Council. A special pin was commissioned to mark the 130th year of the Band.
Ending 2008 on a high note, The Cork Butter Exchange Brass & Reed Band were invited to give a Christmas lunch time recital for the employees of Apple Computers in Holyhill, Cork.
Year 2009 saw an extra special St. Patrick Day for Da Buttera. Not only were the Band marching in the Clonakilty and Courtmacsheery parades on the 17th they also gave a recital on the Broadway at the Grand Parade in the city on Saturday 14th. The St. Patrick's Festival saw many acts perform over the weekend.
A very hot Saturday afternoon saw The Cork Butter Exchange Brass & Reed Band play outside Blackpool Church where a plaque was being unveiled to the well known Corkman: William Dunlea.
The Cork Butter Exchange Brass & Reed Band played at a fundraiser in Blackpool Shopping Centre on Saturday the 31st of October.
On Saturday the 14th of November Da Buttera and Da Barracka joined forces at Daunts Square to lead a protest rally against the goverments proposed cuts to the Arts Grants.
On an afternoon of the 21st of December a Brass Quintet of members of The Cork Butter Exchange Brass & Reed Band play Christmas Carols at the top of the Shandon Bells in honour of the Centenary of Dr. Aloys Fleischmann. The music was recorded by RTÉ Cork and aired on RTÉ Six One News. The RTÉ recording is available on the 'Repetoire' page.
2010 was a historic year for Da Buttera. On May 10th the Lord Mayor of Cork Clr. Brian Bermingham unveiled two plaques to celebrate two of Ireland's most famous music instituations: The Cork Barrack Street Band "De Barracka" (Est. 1837) and of course, The Cork Butter Exchange Band (Est 1878).
The plaques lie on The North Gate Bridge for "Da Buttera" and The South Gate Bridge for "De Barracka".
Later on the 1st October 2010 both The Cork Barrack Street Band and The Cork Butter Exchange Band set aside old rivalries and performed together at The Lord Mayor's Community Heritage Concert. The concert was a huge sucess and launched The Barracka Buttera Song which is available on CD for both Bands. Alternatively, it can be purchased online at: LocalBooks.ie
On November 13th 2010, a joint concert was held in Blackpool Community Centre with St. Patricks Brass Band from Galway. The concert was a musical feast and was much enjoyed by all.
2010 also had a strange Christmas twist in that members of The Cork Butter Exchange Band performed along side the Rock Band - My Evil Ex in The Pavilion. The blend of Rock-Jazz-Blues-Brass went down a treat with the audience.
2011 saw more success for the band when on 19th of April The Cork Butter Exchange Band was announced as winners of Lord Mayor's Community and Voluntary Award in the category of Arts and Culture. The event was sponsored by The Evening Echo.
In August of 2011 a special cermony was held in city hall to honour the band's current Conductor and stalwart of the band: Mr. Herbie Hendrick. Herbie celebrating his 75th birthday has given over 50 years service to the band and conducting it for more than 20 years. Herbie's dedication and commitment to the band are only matched by his skill as a musician.
2012 was the year for weddings for Da Buttera with five of the Band members getting married in the space of a year. Four of them to members of The Butter Exchange Band. Kevin married Maria, Mark married Noelle and Ken married Tracey, the only one not to be a Band member. It begs the saying: Keep it in the Band!
On the 1st of August 2012 the first Mother Jones Commemoration was held in Shandon. Mother Jones who was born in Cork in the 1840's went on to becoming Labour Rights activist in the United States and Canada. She fought relentless for the rights of workers particular miners and is remembered by them to this day.
On a very cold an bitter Easter Monday The Cork Butter Exchange Brass & Reed Band performed for the 97th Commemoration of the Easter Rising. The Commemoration was held by the Cork City Council at The National Momument on Grand Parade. The band was glad of a hot coffee afterwards to get the blood flowing again.
The Cork Butter Exchange Brass & Reed Band did bit to help the promotion of the Cork Lesbian Bysexual Gay Transgender Awareness Week by performing at County Hall Plaza on the 17th May.
On the 30th of August a sextet of members from Da Buttera performed at a wedding cermony in Blackpool. The Bride was always a fan of the band and insisted the band perform at her wedding. This unique wedding band did not disappoint and the happly married couple were delighted with the performance.
1st of September 2013 saw Band was asked to do its bit for "The Gathering" and perform on the Bandstand in Cobh.
On the 20th of October the Band performed at a new event in the Shandon area. The retracing of the old Butter Road from Macroom to Shandon. The Band was warming welcomed by the audience an the barbequing of burgers and saugages led the band to give a special rendition of "Smoke gets in your Eyes".
On a cold an bitter Feburary 22nd The Cork Butter Exchange Brass & Reed Band lead a march organised by the North Monastery Parents Association to demonstrate against the planned closure of the North Monastery Primary School. Thanks to these efforts and the public response the decision to close the school was reversed. Da Buttera again showing the strong connection between the Band and the people of Cork.
In 1963 when President John F. Kennedy visited Cork City Hall, the band preformed Irish marches on Mc Swiney Quay. (Albert Quay).
Over the years Da Buttera has played for every imaginable occasion at venues country wide, and has won every competition in the country. The Band has also done tremendous work in the education of Cork musicians, many of whom have gone on to join the Army Bands and lead their own Bands and Orchestras. Beginners are given individual tuition in Music Theory and on instruments of choice. They then graduate to the Junior Band and on to the Senior Band. The Buttera, a living part of Cork's Culture and Tradition, continues to entertain and perform music we all love.
May 10th saw The Cork Butter Exchange Band perform with the Bravehearts Choir to raise money for ARC - The Cork Cancer Support House. The Bravehearts Choir is made up of friends and family of those who are suffering with cancer. It was a most enjoyable night full of music and song.
The Concert which opened with Da Buttera was followed by many great acts that included:
Cork Rokk Choir, Swade, The Cork Academy of Music, and Two Time Polka. We thank The Maldron Hotel for hosting this event and contributing to these great local causes.
But this was only the beginning, following the success of this concert, it was decided to hold another Concert to raise money for the above organisations and The Blarney Street First Responders.
While the concert was opened again by Da Buttera, the headline acts included:
Roy Buckley, Myless Gaffney, The Buachaills, The Laughing Shamrocks, Kieran Kramer Band and capped off with DJ Ted Dunne.
These two Concert on top of all the regular engagements for June made it a very busy month indeed.
On August 2nd Buttera Flutist Joanne Geary married Euphonist Dave McCall. As you would expect it was quiet a musical affair with Da Buttera performing at the wedding and sharing in their special day.
On May 16th Da Buttera were invited back to play at the Lee Rowing Club Regatta. It was a throwback to times past when the Band regularly performed there. As seen in the 1979 County Brass RTÉ Production. The Band were blessed with good weather and look forward to returning again soon.
The Band known to the people of Cork affectionally as Da Buttera is a community based Wind Band with a focus on involvement in local community events and providing the people of Cork with free musical tuition to anyone willing to join the Band.
The Band plays at many events through out the year such as parades, festivals, regattas, open air recitals, sacred events and of course Christmas Carols.
In September 2019, members from the Butter Exchange Band, began tutoring children from the Upper Glanmire area as part of their new community youth outreach program. This initiative is kindly supported by Cork ETB Youth Services, the Upper Glanmire Community Association and members of the band. New students have started learning instruments including, Cornet, Clarinet, Trombone and Euphonium.
New youth and senior members are always welcome and if you are interested please contact us. A second round of applications for young learners will take place for start in January 2020.