Guitars and treasured violin stolen but Pat McManus' show will go on
Blow for Fermanagh rock star as he prepares for homecoming gig
Fermanagh rock star Pat McManus has vowed that the show will go on after thieves in England stole all his guitars and violins, including one his late father gave to him when he was only five years old.
The former Mama's Boys star, from Derrylin, admitted he was heartbroken after discovering the treasured fiddle was among the instruments taken from the back of his band's van near Wakefield in Yorkshire.
"We were able to find new guitars, but that violin, which my father John gave me, was irreplaceable, especially as he died three years ago," Pat said.
"The violin was on stage with me every night. It's been all around the world, from America to Japan. I had painted it and re-painted it all sorts of colours, from white to black to red, and it featured on the cover of my first album with Mama's Boys."
The equipment which was stolen was valued at £15,000, and Pat said he believed it was taken by musicians.
"We had parked the unmarked van at a hotel after a gig in Leeds," he added. "We reversed it tight against a 15ft wall, but the thieves broke in through the passenger's door and rolled the vehicle forwards to gain access to our equipment through the back doors.
"It was a total disaster for us. I lost four guitars, and three bass guitars were also stolen, along with amplifiers and a lot of accessories that only a guitarist would have recognised. The drums weren't stolen and the thieves left the van too. So they knew what they were after."
Police who were called to investigate the theft tried to view CCTV footage, but the cameras closest to where the Peugeot Boxer van had been parked were not working.
Pat's three-piece band were quickly back on the road, however. "A lot of bands might have gone home, but we weren't going to let thieves beat us," he said.
"We were fortunate in so much as we were able to buy new guitars and gear from a firm who are based nearby.
"It took us a while to get used to the instruments, but we have gone ahead with all our touring."
The Pat McManus Band are one of the main attractions at the three-day Belfast City Blues Festival, which opens on Friday June 24.
The musician and his band will be playing in the new festival marquee in Writer's Square on the Sunday night.
"We are really looking forward to returning to Belfast," he said. "The festival is one of the best in Ireland."
Pat still harbours some hope that the stolen instruments might be recovered by police who followed one lead to Glasgow, but it turned out to be a dead-end.
"I'm keeping my eyes open on the internet all the time to see if the instruments appear, but none of the gear has been put up for sale online," he said.
"We have had a lot of offers of support from our fans and from other well-wishers, and we are grateful for it."