Irish Gossip on the Beatles

THOUGH they broke up decades ago, the Beatles will forever and ever be remembered as probably the greatest and certainly the most historic rock 'n' roll band that ever lived (all due respects to U2!)

The Fab Four had strong ties to Ireland, both family-wise and professionally, and a newly released book, aptly called The Beatles and Ireland, pulls all the Irish stands together in what will be a must read for fans of the group.

"There is one chapter of the group's career that has been overlooked - the story of their Irish heritage and connections with Ireland. When the Beatles first played in Dublin at the Adelphi Cinema in November 1963, Paul McCartney announced that it was 'great to be home,'" says a press release touting the new work.

In addition to chapters on the group's Irish family roots, shows and appearances in Ireland, there are also some gossipy tid-bits. You may remember that McCartney tied the knot for the second time at the Castle Leslie estate in Co. Monaghan in June of 2002. The bride, Heather Mills, turned out to be a horrendous choice for the widower Macca, and his designer daughter Stella knew it.

One chapter in the book quotes Stella telling one of the many cameramen at Castle Leslie that she did not want to be recorded. "Look I don't want to be in the film... I don't want anything to do with this, please don't put me in the video," she said. How right she was, though the ill-fated union did produce a daughter, Beatrice.

The book, according to publishers Collins Press, details every connection the Beatles ever had with Ireland, and there are many. Did you know that they played two gigs in Belfast within the span of 12 months in 1963? Or that John Lennon purchased an island off the coast of Mayo at the end of the sixties?

Not everyone in Ireland was enamored of the supergroup, though. They gave what could charitably be described as a difficult interview to Irish broadcaster RTE in November of 1963, and as the host, Frank Hall, recalled years later, "They were damn hard to interview.

"They were a bunch of young *****. I was too hard on them. They were too young to be famous," Hall said years later.

"I didn't like John Lennon particularly. He was cheeky. Above all I disliked Ringo Starr. He was the worst drummer I'd ever heard. They must have been loyal because anybody else would have dropped that guy, and he couldn't sing either."

The authors, Damian Smith and Michael Lynch, have pulled together some interesting sounding chapters, everything from "Drive My Car: The Beatles, an Irishman and an Austin J4," to "Republican Beatles." With regards to the latter, it's well known that Lennon in particular sympathized with the Catholic civil rights struggle in Northern Ireland; he also wrote a song, "The Luck of the Irish," in tribute to the victims of the Bloody Sunday riot in Co. Derry.

The book isn't available through an American distributor, but can be ordered on amazon.co.uk. Just search for the title and it'll come right up, complete with a preview of the first chapter about the group's Irish genealogy.

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