Leading the Parade at the Hazel Grove Carnival Fianna Phadraig Pipe Band proud to support local charity fundraiser
A Band of Orphans
 
Terry Dowling, you are my da-a-a-arling...

March 23rd

 

In Springtime 1991, it was business as usual for Terry and the Band, with the forthcoming Saint Patrick's Day procession in Earlestown and the customary Saint Pat's night festivities. Preparations were also well under way for July's trip to County Cork for the annual International Folk Dance Festival in Cobh.

 

image_121_1

Terry Dowling playing with the Band in the sixties
From the Fianna Phádraig collection. 
Then, in early March, Terry was admitted to Wythenshawe hospital with chest pains. The tests confirmed the initial diagnosis - a mild heart attack- and the Big Fella was placed in the care of the hospital which he had worked so hard to support over the years (see "Serving the Community"). After a week's treatment and rest, Terry was discharged, seemingly on the road to recovery.

 

At Saint Pat's weekend, he accompanied the Band to Earlestown, not yet ready to don the kilt and strike up the pipes, but well enough to enjoy a moment with the pipe band he loved so dearly. At the end of the day, the lads in the Band went home reassured: Terry was on the mend.

 

Little did we know that the Big Fella's destiny was otherwise. The big heart he had shown throughout his life was just not strong enough to see him through, and on the 23rd of March 1991, Terry Dowling passed away peacefully in his sleep, aged 57, leaving behind him a distraught family and a Band of Orphans.

 

In a moving tribute to our friend, the Wythenshawe Express reported:

 

The news of his death caused shockwaves of emotion and surprise throughout the community - shockwaves which carried far and wide to the people whom Terry's life had touched. His funeral at St. Anthony's Church was a sight to behold. An estimated fifteen hundred people came together from every corner of the British Isles, Ireland, France and Spain to pay tribute to his memory, bringing the centre of Wythenshawe to a standstill. Members of the Fianna Phádraig Band from its early years played his favourite tunes as he was laid to rest in Moston Cemetery; a fitting tribute to the man who had given so much and played such a part in their history and development.

[...]

Whatever your fond memories are of Terry the man, Wythenshawe is much, much poorer for the loss of a legend... a giant... yet such a gentle giant. His family have lost a much loved brother, uncle, great uncle... cousin. In a quiet moment or when you are with good friends... take time to remember him. Pour yourself a glass of your favourite tipple - Terry's was obviously the "Liffey Liquid" [...] - make a toast to a man who cannot be replaced; a man who has nevertheless left a legacy of love and understanding for others to follow. No-one can fill his shoes, but we can all seek to emulate his spirit and dedication by following his example.

Wythenshawe Express, 1991 (undated), article entitled: 'Terry Dowling - "Mr. Wythenshawe"'

Legacy

We do indeed - each and every one of us - have our own fond memories of Terry Dowling: a friend, a mentor, an example... the guy who would give us a good dressing down when we deserved it, but the guy who was always there to support us in times of distress.

 

image_121_2

Terry Dowling at the Band's 40th anniversary celebrations
From the Fianna Phádraig collection. 
To this day, Terry remains the reference whenever the Band has an important decision to make. "How would Terry have done it...?", "Terry used to...", "Do you remember when TD said...?"... the examples are too numerous to list.

 

As one band member recently put it, "We’re all the spiritual children of Terry Dowling, a man with a dream. A man who dreamed that he could take young people from Wythenshawe and give them a taste of life in the broader world. An ambitious challenge, which he probably found daunting at times. But he succeeded. A man who had the gall to dream of taking the youth of Woodhouse Park and Newall Green to an international folklore festival in Billingham, performing alongside groups from all over the world, meeting all religions, races and cultures. His dream became reality. A man who had the insolence to dream of taking us all over Europe, to France, to Germany, to Austria, to Italy, to Spain, to Greece… An outrageous dream, which became a delicious reality for us all and which, for many, provided life-changing experiences. And, finally, a man who dreamed that he could fill the Forum hall so that the boys in the Band and the girls in the dancers could share their passion with their mums and dads, brothers and sisters. A dream which must have seemed impossible at times, but a dream which became reality. Thank God for Terry Dowling and his dreams, because without him many of us would not have had the lives we have had the privilege to lead."

 

 

Oh, and by the way, Terry was certainly a legend, a giant, a mentor, a father figure... but to the lads in the Band he was also our friend, fun to be with, up for a laugh and (nearly) always willing to take a joke... hence the rather cryptic tagline at the top of this page, an old Band favourite, sung to this day - usually by our very own Brendan - to the tune of "Peggy Gordon": 

 

 

Terry Dowling, you are my darling
Come sit you down and break my knee
And tell to me the very reason
Why I am slighted so by thee


 
Terry Dowling in pictures:


Letter from Alf Morris MP.

Sources:

The Wythenshawe Express, 1991


 


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