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Miami Showband story being made into musical

The story of the Miami Showband massacre is to be made into a musical.  

Award winning playwright Marie Jones is penning the play which it is understood will open next summer.

The band, who were one of Ireland’s most popular cabaret bands in the 60s and 70s, were travelling home to Dublin after a gig in Banbridge in July 1975 when a fake army patrol made up of UDR soldiers and UVF members stopped them at a bogus checkpoint just outside Newry.  The loyalist gang attempted to hide a bomb inside the bus while the band members were lined up along the roadside, however the device exploded prematurely, killing two of the would-be bombers.  

The other gunmen then opened fire on the group, killing lead singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy and injuring two other band members, Des McAlea and Stephen Travers, who both survived the atrocity.

The attack was carried out by members of the Glenanne Gang, which included members of the RUC, UDR and UVF. 

Speaking to the Irish News last week, Ms Jones revealed that she and her writing partner, Martin Lynch, were collaborating on a musical play focusing on the life of the Miami Showband.

 Commenting on the unusual subject material for a musical, the much-lauded playwright said one of the survivors of the massacre, saxophonist Des McAlea had approached Martin and asked for the story to be told – “from beginning to end.” 

“Martin said he would do it with me, so we did a lot of reading and spoke to a lot of people.

“It is done sensitively, but they were five guys in a band, on the road together, so there is humour too.”

The play is due to open at Belfast’s Grand Opera House next summer.