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Twenty years of The Stables
On Sunday, December 20, the midlands institution of 'The Stables' will commence its 20th birthday celebrations as only it can, with a full day and a long night of music.
The Hot Press Newsdesk, 15 Dec 2009
Twenty years has been a long time in rock’n’roll. Bands have come and gone; genres have changed, rearranged, and enlightened us how; there’s been different names, different games, and manifestos that change; we’ve sang through the worst of times, the best of times and, once again, the worst of times. But through it all, live music has somehow survived, almost unscathed, and one of the greatest survivors of them all is the venerable, award-winning music venue that is The Stables in Mullingar.
On Sunday, December 20, this midlands institution will commence its 20th birthday celebrations as only it can, with a full day and a long night of music. Dozens of acts drawn from The Stables illustrious back catalogue are set to return to the stage for this musical marathon, which is the first in a series of anniversary concerts to be held Christmas (and next year).
Established in 1989 by Tommy and Miriam MacManus, The Stables is one of the longest-surviving venues in a country which thrives and pitches itself as a great lover of music. But it’s a fickle country, and countless venues have come and gone since Tommy and Miriam decided to turn their unused horse stables at the back of their pub, The Yukon Bar, into a live music venue. Tommy had promoted a couple of big outdoor gigs, including one of Ireland’s first ever major outdoor festivals at the now departed Mullingar Racecourse, and was a massive music fan. It was with ease that he channelled that love into The Stables.
From the first night, the intimate and friendly vibe of the venue was apparent, and the decision to stray slightly to the left of centre in terms of musical ‘policy’ was deemed to be the right way. And twenty years later the vibe is still evident the moment you walk into the place. This is a musical room.
In its early days, the venue earned a reputation as being one of the foremost blues clubs outside of the capital. If there was a great rhythm and blues player in Dublin, then chances were that he (or she) would also be showing up at The Stables. Soon there was live music most nights of the week. Monday nights at the venue became legendary as a thriving local blues scene began to evolve. Several bands spun off from a core Stables Blues Band to achieve success all over the world. Thursdays gave songwriters a chance to air their latest creations, whilst the weekends were packed tight with visiting bands, comedians, and solo acts. Sunday nights were the preserve of Noel O’Farrell and his brother Declan.