I took part in my first St Patrick's Day parade when I was five

In our My Weekend feature, Alan Ashman reflects on St Patrick's Day festivals past, turning 30 and why he loves being a part of the Barrack Street Band
I took part in my first St Patrick's Day parade when I was five

Alan Ashman, who is a 1st Trombone player for the Barrack Street Band.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Alan Ashman and I’m from Onslow Gardens. I am employed as a manufacturing trainer with Apple and I have been working there since 2014. Through Apple, I’ve met a lot people and made a lot of friends, some of whom are my best friends.

I am the 1st Trombone player for the Barrack Street Band. My introduction to music started when I was very small. You could say that I was born into the band. My grandfather, John Ashman, was a member and later president of the band before he passed. My father, Tony, and two uncles, Christy and Danny, were also members of the band. Eventually, it filtered down through a few of my cousins and I myself became a member.

I took part in my first Patrick’s Day parade when I was five and my dad says I’m still the best triangle player he ever heard.

I began learning how to play the trombone when I was 10. I started in one on one classes. My teacher was Philip O’Reilly. Phil was an incredible musician. I couldn’t have asked for a better start. Later on, he became one of my very best friends but sadly passed away last year. I do like to think sometimes that he lives on a little bit through me whenever I play.

 Alan Ashman who is from Onslow Gardens plays with the Barrack Street Band.
 Alan Ashman who is from Onslow Gardens plays with the Barrack Street Band.

After a year or two of classes, I started playing with, what was then known as, the Barrack Street Youth Development Band. We played in our very first competition at The South Of Ireland Band Championships in Clonakilty in 2003 and placed first in the junior division. By the time I was 13, I had just passed my Grade 3 exam and was asked to step into the Senior band. I was very excited. I was now playing alongside people I had been watching for years thinking to myself, “you’ve done it Al”. That’s how much it meant to me.

I carried on practising, getting better and better and before I knew it, I was sitting in the 1st trombone seat.

I’ve played in some fantastic venues over the years. From the stage of the City Hall in front of the Lord Mayor to grass of Croke Park in front of the President of Ireland and 82,000 people. 

It’s not hard for me to say, I wouldn’t be who I am today without the band. I’m very proud to be a member and stand tall whenever I throw on the uniform. I still get chills before every gig. I love that band.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

I love music. I would usually rehearse with Barrack Street on a Friday night. Some of my best friends are in the band and after a long rehearsal, a night out on the town is always on the cards.

Lie ins or up with the lark.. which is it for you?

Lie ins. I am definitely not a morning person. I was never much of an early riser so I’ll take a relaxing morning whenever I can.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

I work a shift which rotates, so for a few weeks at a time, I would have to work on Saturdays but I don’t mind it to be honest. I have been working in Apple for almost seven years nowand it is a great place to work. I have a lot a really good friends there and I feel that makes it a bit easier.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

I’ve always wanted to go to Las Vegas. I’ve heard so many stories about it, it sounds like a wild place. Definitely my kind of scene. I would have to bring a few of the lads with me. Good company and a bit of craic.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

Growing up in Cork, Youghal was always somewhere I visited with my family. Plenty of childhood memories but it is still a place I like to go to from time to time just to chill out for a few days. When the weather is right, nothing can beat it. 

A day on the beach, swimming in the sea followed by a stroll through the town and a bag of chips from Doyle’s. What more could you want?

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

Always. I celebrated my 30th birthday recently and even though the Covid restrictions stopped me from having a party, I still got to spend it with my family. I’m fortunate to have a lot of friends and I’ll always make time to catch up with them when I can. We might grab a bite to eat, go for a drink or just drive around town randomly for a few hours. We’ll always make our own fun.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

Playing music is my hobby and I’m lucky enough to have played with some fantastic bands and incredible musicians over the years. I even got to share a stage with The Frank And Walters a few times. I can’t wait to get back to it when we are Covid-free. It has been a full 12 months now since my last gig and I am really starting to miss the craic with my friends.

Alan Ashman with his father and mother, Tony and Dorothy, celebrating his 30th birthday recently at home due to Covid.
Alan Ashman with his father and mother, Tony and Dorothy, celebrating his 30th birthday recently at home due to Covid.

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

I won’t lie, I do enjoy the spotlight. I like to cook and I can whip up a mean carbonara. I love trying new recipes every now and then but my parents are usually the guinea pigs.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

I’m probably the only Irish person who is not a big tea or coffee drinker but I would grab one on the go every now and then. Can’t say no to a White Caramel Oreo from Gloria Jean’s. I’m a big fan of Luigi Malones. I’ve been going there for years with my family and it is usually our go-to place when celebrating something. They have such a lovely menu. I love their wings.

Sunday night comes around too fast — how do you normally spend it?

When I don’t have work the next day, I’m always up for a Sunday Funday. Hanging out with my friends and watching the footie is always a good time. However, when I do have work the next day, I’m usually found binge watching something on Netflix and maybe a takeaway.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

At 6.40am when I have work. Thankfully with my shift change that only happens a few weeks at a time.

It can be a struggle sometimes to get out of the bed, especially on a cold winter’s morning. That’s why I have two alarms.

MORE ABOUT THE
BARRACK STREET BAND

The Barrack Street Band was founded in 1837 by Fr Matthew as part of the Temperance Movement.

In recent years the Barrack Street Band has marched in the Cork St Patrick’s Day Parade with their younger members from the Barrack St Youth Band, Barrack St Junior Band and the Mahon Community Concert Band.

The Barrack Street Band has taken part in every Cork parade for the past 130 years with the exception of 2011 when they were invited to Savannah, Georgia, USA, to play in their parade with 700,000 people in attendance.


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