Josef Locke

Joseph LockeEvent: The Josef Locke Commemorative Centenary Concert 

Where: Buckley’s Recital Rooms, Dunnolly, northern Victoria.  

When: Sunday 17 September at 2.30 pm


Cost: $20. The  price includes champagne, port, and sherry before the concert, and afternoon tea afterwards.  An absolute bargain!

Further information: Rachel Buckely on 03-54681858   or  0427-275006 or
John Clancy:

This year marks the centenary of the birth of the Irish tenor and popular entertainer Josef Locke, and the Central Victorian Irish Association Inc. (CVIA) intends to celebrate this anniversary with a short commemorative concert on September 17.

Joseph McLoughlin was born into a Catholic/ Nationalist family on 23 March 1917 in Creggan Street, Derry,   His birth took place about four years before the partition of Ireland as a result of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, and his death in October 1999 took place in the context of the dawn of a new era in Northern Ireland, with the Good Friday agreement and the Peace Process.

To anyone growing up in  a low socio-economic bacground in Derry in the ’20s and ’30s, the future certainly looked bleak.  However, Joseph McLoughlin was blessed with a unique gift – a splendid natural singing voice.  However, he did not go into a singing career until his early twenties.  His early years in the workforce, having left school at the end of his primary school years, consisted of a few unskilled part time jobs, a few years in the Irish Guards Regiment,  and a period as a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (the RUC).


John McCormack

McLoughlin’s early singing career began as a member of Dublin comedian Jimmy O’ Dea’s touring variety show.  However, a couple of seasons as principal tenor with the Dublin Grand Opera Society (DGOS) followed during the later years of World War II, when that society could not bring any principal tenors from Italy. It was after one these performances that celebrated world famous Irish tenor John McCormack is reputed to have  told McLoughlin that he should not try singing grand opera, and, by implication, that he should focus on singing lighter styles such as operetta, songs from musicals, Irish ballads, and popular songs. It seems that McLoughlin took McCormack’s advice, and for the rest of his career sang in these styles.

Joseph McLoughlin, or Joseph Locke, as he became known when his career took off in the late 1940s, became one of the most popular entertainers in Britain  during the late 1940s and ’50s.  He was a regular performer at the Blackpool summer seasons, and he also sang on occasions at such prestigious venues as the London Palladium and the Royal Variety Performance.  His fame caught the attention of the British Inland Revenue, and it was for this reason that Locke hurriedly left the UK in the late 1950s, and found sanctuary in the Republic of Ireland.  The story of this episode can be seen in the 1991 movie, Hear My Song.  While in Ireland, his career to some extent descended into the doldrums, with the result that in 1967 he made peace with the British Inland Revenue, repaid certain monies owed to it, and to some extent revived his singing career in the UK.

Josef Locke did undertake a couple of singing tours of the USA, but what is particularly interesting is that he also undertook a singing tour of Australia and New Zealand.  This took place in October 1961, when he performed in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth.  It is possible that some readers of Tinteán may have attended one of his performances down under.

During the 1970s, Josef Locke performed in a number of charity concerts in both Northern Ireland and the Republic to raise money for the families of those who had suffered deaths or serious injuries in the Northern Ireland conflict.  Being essentially a non political person, he did not make any public statements about the conflict, preferring by his presence in Derry to show solidarity with those people who were daily suffering.

As his life and career neared its end, Locke must have been happy to witness the possible end of that terrible conflict.  Josef Locke died in October 1999 in his house in the village of Clane, County Kildare, an extremely wealthy man, and surrounded by the children of his various marriages.

10345564_646503445443924_3316443916142805970_nThe Josef Locke Commemorative Centenary Concert will take place on Sunday 17 September at 2.30 pm at Buckley’s Recital Rooms, Dunnolly, Northern Victoria.  Buckleys of Dunnolly is an old hotel dating from the time of the gold rushes; its owner Rachel Buckley has beautifully transformed it into recital rooms.

The concert is being produced and directed by John Clancy, who has produced similar concerts to honour other celebrated Irish singers and musicians, as well as concerts to commemorate Ireland’s involvement in World War I, and the 1916 Rising commemorate concert,  both of these events having been  presented by the CVIA .  The Josef Locke Concert will last for about an hour.   It will tell the story of his life via a narration, and the cast involved includes a number of professional, semi-professional, and talented amateur singers.  The concert will feature a wide range of the types of songs in which Josef Locke excelled  –  Irish songs, songs from musicals, operetta, popular ballads, and a couple of arias from opera.  Prices of tickets and booking details will be published in the ‘What’s On’ section of this edition of Tinteán.