Bundoran – or ‘Fundoran’, as the seaside town is fondly known by many – evokes many a happy childhood memory for those who live just a hop, skip and a jump across the Border in Fermanagh.

Summiting the cliffs of Roguey to take the Wishing Chair as your throne. Sandy toes in the car home after hours of building sandcastles on the beach. Losing all your cents at the amusements.

As we met with The Tumbling Paddies – the hottest band on the island of Ireland – on the hottest day of the heatwave, they recalled their own fond memories of the popular seaside town as we enjoyed some of its offerings, from the sea views to the fun fair. From playing games on the beach as kids, they now find themselves playing their own music to hundreds of fans at the town’s hotels and festivals.

Despite selling out venues in Bundoran, across Ireland and beyond, where they entertain ever-growing audiences with their modern take on Folk and Trad music, Gareth Maguire (lead vocals), John McCann (drums), Lee Jones (guitar), Martin Treacy (accordion), Ciaran Owens (banjo and vocals) and Oisin McManus (keyboard), supported by their manager Andy Cox, are keeping their feet firmly on the ground – or so Martin kept reminding his band mates as they donned sunglasses for photographs as we walked down to the beach in the glorious sunshine.


Tumbling Paddies.

Tumbling Paddies.


“We need to keep our feet on the ground,” he said, which was received with laughs from the others.

To be fair, the sun was blindingly bright, so the sunglasses were as much for practicality as style, but this quickly became the running joke of the day.

Any time any of them did anything that could be considered in any way ostentatious, they brought each other right back down to earth with a jokey jibe.

“John – take those glasses off, you look a sight,” one of them quipped as John put on a Lennon-esque pair of shades.

As we entered Bundoran Adventure Park, famed for its brightly coloured, hair-raising rides, thumping dance tunes and ferris wheel that’s become a well-known landmark on the seafront landscape, the close friendship of the band members was evident as their quick-witted banter continued.

But how did they initially meet?

All from Fermanagh, spanning the length and the breadth of the county, including Boho, Coa, Derrygonnelly, Bellanaleck, Derrylin and Kinawley, the majority of the band members met whilst playing at Trad sessions, through Comhaltas.

When asked if they’d always wanted to be in a band, Lee replied: “We always liked the idea of playing in a band, but I think Gareth was the only one that really envisioned it.”

Gareth added: “In First Year in school, when we were asked what we wanted to do, I wrote that I wanted to be a Country singer like Derek Ryan and Nathan Carter.”


Starting off playing weddings, the band went on to play a gig with Irish Folk band, Beoga.


Tumbling Paddies.

Tumbling Paddies.


“Our first gig was with Beoga, I think, but we weren’t called The Tumbling Paddies at that time,” said John, as he and his fellow band members sat chatting on the waltzers at the fun fair.

They began to explain the eventful night that inspired their name change from ‘Fonnmhar’, which means ‘tuneful’ in Irish, to ‘The Tumbling Paddies’ – and it had nothing to do with farm machinery.

“Ciaran tumbled the van going to the Ardhowen,” said Martin.

“I don’t know how we weren’t killed,” added Lee, noting how they still managed to go on to perform the gig at the Ardhowen that night.

“We tumbled the van and the name was changed,” said Gareth.

When asked if the other band members still allow him to drive the van after the accident, Ciaran replied: “I haven’t drove any of the vans or anything since.”

Laughter erupted from the others.


Tumbling Paddies.

Tumbling Paddies.


The band are lucky to ever make it to a gig with the driving mishaps they experience.

“The van got bogged there, the other day. It got stuck in a field,” said Martin.

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He added: “It was Lee who got it bogged. It had to be dug out with a shovel.”

“And Oisin just goes to a different destination from the rest of us,” said Ciaran.

“Oisin ended up in Limerick for one gig,” explained Lee.

“I mixed up Ardara for Adare,” admitted Oisin.

“He ended up in Limerick instead of Donegal,” laughed Gareth.

Oisin’s sense of direction continued to come under fire as the slagging continued.

“He pulled in on the motorway on the way to Belfast and took an exit,” started Gareth.

Oisin continued the tale: “I pulled in, then looked up and everything was fine, so I re-entered the motorway, and after about 45 minutes I was back at Ballygawley roundabout.”

They all burst into fits of laughter again.


Tumbling Paddies..

Tumbling Paddies..


“I was only a year into driving, and that was coming from a gig here in Bundoran actually; we’d been playing at the Milwaukee Irish Festival.

“I got halfway up the motorway, coming from Bundoran, going to Belfast, and then ended back at Ballygawley roundabout.”

So Oisin’s definitely not going to get a chance to drive the van.

“Oh, I’m happy enough,” he said, followed by more laughs from his band mates.

In two weeks’ time, the band will be driving the van back to Bundoran on September 29 as they perform at the Allingham Arms Hotel as part of the World Matchmaking Festival.

Next year, they will be swapping the Irish seaside for the golden sands of Australia, having just announced gigs for St. Patrick’s Week on the other side of the world.

“None of us have been there before, so we’re looking forward to it,” said Lee.

“And we’re going back to Dubai in January,” added Martin, noting how the band had performed in the UAE city for the first time in January.

This has been a year of firsts for the band, as they were invited to perform on both ‘The Late Late Show’ and at ‘The Rose of Tralee’ for the first time.

‘Absolutely fantastic

“RTÉ asked us to do both, and that was absolutely fantastic,” said Gareth.

“And we know from growing up watching the likes of ‘The Late Late Show’ how big it is.

“It was a great thing to be involved in and just to say you’ve done it is a massive thing.


The Tumbling Paddies.

The Tumbling Paddies.


“It was definitely mighty to get on it. I suppose U2 and all started off on the likes of that – God knows what could come from it.

“Then the Rose of Tralee was just the cherry on top,” he added, saying that they particularly enjoyed the “live aspect” of the event, as their Late Late performance didn’t end up going out live, with the President of the United States, Joe Biden, being in Ireland at the time, with the show cut short due to his speech.

Gareth continued: “The Rose of Tralee was out live, so just getting everyone’s reaction was great.

“And then there was the after party,” he added with a laugh.

Although they are rising to the highest of heights, with their just-released new album ‘The Journey So Far – Live’ topping the Irish albums chart, The Tumbling Paddies are continuing to keep their, currently sandy, feet firmly on the ground.