Summer Love Sensation at Glenarm Castle

Bay City Roller fans brave the rain to watch Les McKeown's band perform,as the headline act on  the first day at the Dalriada festival at Glenarm Castle..Picture: Paul Faith INLT 30-628-CON
Bay City Roller fans brave the rain to watch Les McKeown's band perform,as the headline act on the first day at the Dalriada festival at Glenarm Castle..Picture: Paul Faith INLT 30-628-CON

A tartan army numbering in the thousands descended on Glenarm at the weekend to crown Bay City Roller Les McKeown king of the castle.

The last bars of Scotland The Brave had already brought to a fitting close the Co Antrim Pipe Band Championships that opened the annual P&O Ferries Dalriada Festival when the real invasion of the ancestral home of Lord Dunluce began.

Les McKeown's 'Bay City Rollers on stage at Glenarm Castle on Saturday night..Picture:Paul Faith INLT 30-629-CON

Les McKeown's 'Bay City Rollers on stage at Glenarm Castle on Saturday night..Picture:Paul Faith INLT 30-629-CON

It was no place for the faint hearted – or even Braveheart for that matter – with men outnumbered 10 to one and protesting to anyone who would listen that they were only there for Bagatelle and the Hothouse Flowers.

In their farewell tour, Bagatelle drew a few hundred fans to the castle grounds stage, but even their Leeson Street Lady was relegated to Second Violin on this occasion.

Flowers front man Liam O’Maonlai tried and failed to summon up the sun with the Johnny Nash classic I Can See Clearly Now, but the rain that had drizzled and then poured down stubbornly refused to be gone.

The carefully crafted lyrics of two of Ireland’s finest bands faded in the mists of time and the rain persisted, but this crowd didn’t give a Shang-alang.

It didn’t matter that these weren’t all real Bay City Rollers, with only original lead singer McKeown from the line-up that was the biggest boy band of the Seventies, with a string of pop hits, their own TV series, and millions of screaming teenage fans.

Now middle-aged, Les McKeown is still singing that it’s a teenage dream to be 17, but that was lost on those adoring fans who, for one night in July, gladly suspended belief and sang every word of every song, swaying as one, their tartan scarves held high above their poncho-covered heads.

The Rollers’ hit-making career – like Les’s tartan-trimmed trousers of the Seventies – was short.

Forty years on, the faithful following is still in no mood to say Bye Bye Baby.

Another big hit for the Dalriada Festival.