If you went along to the Cumberland Hotel thinking you were to hear a potted version of the life story of one half of the successful Bachelors duo you would be disappointed, but what you did hear more than made up for that. Without a doubt Dec Cluskey is an inspirational speaker – and a talented and versatile entertainer.  We are very fortunate that he lives in Eastbourne and was prepared to sacrifice his Sunday afternoon to entertain nearly eighty Friends.

Dec

Many in the audience recalled The Bachelors as one of the super groups of the Swinging 60s.  They enjoyed phenomenal success outselling the Beatles in both 1964 and 1965.  They had ten hits in the Top Ten to The Beatles’ five and were present in the chart for 77 weeks against The Beatles 55.  And still they carry on – the brothers have just recorded their seventy-seventh album and have a fifty-date tour planned.

Dec displayed all the Irish charisma imaginable as he strummed his acoustic guitar and got his audience joining in the chorus of Tom Dooley before regaling them with tales from his long and eventful career.  At times these were harrowing stories from his family and anecdotal interludes from his professional career.  Perhaps he is most famous for saving the day for the Pope when the sound system broke down in front of 250,000 people at York Racecourse – Dec to the rescue!  He told many funny stories worthy of some of the great comedians who had shared the bill with the Bachelors in their hay day which left many in the audience wondering whether they were true or just a touch of Irish Blarney – but does it matter, it was such great entertainment.

From early beginnings in Dublin where they played the mouth organ, Dec and his brother Con have been in the business for more than sixty years.  It was amazing to watch and listen as Dec picked up his harmonica and gave an accomplished rendition of the music for the Paso Doble or when he donned an old hat and a clay pipe to take his audience back to his Gaelic speaking childhood holidays in Connemara listening to the tales of the Shanakee !

There were poignant moments too, when he recounted times of family sadness but his mantra of always making the most of life shone through.  As he said, “It is always better to regret something that you have done, rather than something that you didn’t do”!

Quite an anti-climax for everyone to sit down to enjoy a tea of sandwiches and cake!  The Friends held a raffle which raised £119.  Dec donated his fee for the afternoon to The Grand Order of Water Rats of which he is a Past President.