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We 2 share U2 success story

Limerick Post
[@U2 note: They have the date wrong in the first sentence below. U2 won the competition on March 18, 1978.]

Exactly 30 years ago this Saturday, rock band U2 catapulted into what was to become international fame when they were declared winners of Pop Group 78, at Limerick Civic Week, in what was their first public appearance.

The competition was to find the most entertaining pop group or showband.

Michael McNamara, who compered the event at the Stella Ballroom, recalled:

"Limerick launched U2, something that has never been forgotten by Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen. Were it not for Civic Week, they might never have hit the big time.

"In addition to prize money of 500, they received a recording contract with CBS Records -- and the rest is history."

Limerick auctioneer PJ Power, the man responsible for the running of Civic Week, told the Limerick Post; "Discovering U2 will always be on my CV. That was a very special night and another plus for our city."

McNamara told the Post that they had, in fact, entered under the name "Hype."

"I was brazen enough to tell Bono that name was awful, and he replied they were changing it to U2. I told him that was even worse."

There were only 60 people in the Stella for the final, added Michael, "but like Munster's famous win over the All-Blacks, you could find 10,000 to say they were in the Stella the night U2 were discovered."

He described Clayton's bass playing as "phenomenal," and probably swung the balance in their favour.

"Personally, I thought they were not commercial enough at the time, but I was proved to be wrong. In my years as Radio 2 disc jockey, they were the band most in demand.

"That CBS recording contract was their breakthrough. Later, they signed with Island Records."

The judges were Billy Wall of RTE and Jackie Hayden of CBS Records.

Limerick Post staff member Bron O'Loughlin was one of the people who attended the competition. "My friends and I agreed that they were by far the best band on the night -- although we never imagined just how far they would go!"

U2 was not Civic Week's only success story. On the same week, Stocktons Wing made their debut in the city.

In the same year, Limerick was represented in the National Song Contest by Billy Whelan and Don O'Connor.

Also, violinist Joe O'Donnell, a carpenter from Prospect, was unanimously praised for his album Gaodhal's Vision, released worldwide.

© Limerick Post, 2008.