Club is still rocking after 15 years

Dessie Blackadder

Reporter:

Dessie Blackadder

GOOD evenin’ Ahoghill! Are you ready to rock?

For the past 15 years, a pub in the centre of Ahoghill has played host to some of the best rock acts on the current scene.

Like all the best venues, it is intimate, sweaty and up close and personal with artists and spectators in close conjunction, making for a great atmosphere and equally great performances.

The Diamond Rock Club - based in the bar of the same name - opened its doors in February, 2005 and (with the exception of the covid restrictions) has been packing ‘em in on a regular basis ever since.

The man behind the concept is Derwin McFarland, son of Showband maestro trumpeter, Billy McFarland.

He told the Guardian: “Pat McManus (the breathtaking guitarist from Mamas Boys) played the first ever show. We had actually booked Pat the year before and he played for us at a private function on the 18th June 2005 but Friday 3rd February 2006 was the first DRC show.

“Back in 2003, being a massive Mamas Boys fan, myself and a few others were travelling the length and breath of Ireland every weekend catching Pat And The Painkillers in places like Ardee, Bundoran, Carrickmacross, Drogheda,etc etc.

“We then hatched a plan to bring Pat to the Ballymena area, that was the sole reason the Rock Club started.

“By the time we were ready, the band had changed to Pat & Hi-Voltage. Back then, Pat played very few shows in the North, so the early shows were a massive success which enabled us to branch out and book other acts - but without a doubt those early Pat shows were the foundations of The Club.

“I am very proud of what we have achieved in the past 15 years and the world class acts we have managed to bring to a small village in Co. Antrim. “I'd like to thank all the bands and artists that have graced our stage. It's no surprise Pat holds the record number of performances with 39!

“I'd also like to thank everyone that has helped put on the shows through-out the years. If you cleaned the place, did the door, moved an amp, made food or did airport or hotel runs, I thank you all but a special mention must go to Paul, Tony, James, Ruth, Peter and my mother.

“I'd like to thank all the sound-men through out the years, but particularly, Steven, Joni and Chris. My father for all the help with the PA through-out the years.

“All the hotels that put the bands up, especially The Adair Arms. All the bus companies, especially Ethersons and all the local taxi firms, especially E-Cabs for getting everybody home safely. And most important of all, I'd like to thank Eugene Kelly, John Small, Jacqueline and Andy and every single bar person that has worked through out the years.

“So, what does the future hold ? There's no doubt, the last 12 months have been a struggle to survive, so if you want us to be around for the future, please support us when you can, once we open up again .

“I'm still stunned by the number of people who have been to see the bands at the Diamond over that period. I’ve become friends with many of them and I’m really grateful for their support.

“Here’s hoping that the music will be back - live and loud - sooner, rather than later!”

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