Music man Tommy Leddy launches memoir...Buy, buy now
For a man who has never been short of words, Tommy Leddy leads off his autobiography with a very terse message: “Tommy Leddy here. This book contains the history of my family, going back to both my grandparents (O’Neills and Leddys) and the story of my life to the present day. I hope you enjoy it”.
And he adds his trademark farewell “Bye bye now!” This book is hardly a swan song for a man who has been a vital part of music and business life in Louth and Meath for decades and has managed to keep himself young by simply being interested in everything around him.
He has had a dizzying array of jobs, occupations and volunteerism and has made a huge contribution to community lie in Drogheda culminating, perhaps famously, in establishing his TLT Theatre in the town. His Sound Shop has become a mecca for music practitioners and music lovers over a very wide part of the country. A labour of love for a man who obviously loves his town.
This book grips the reader by the throat from the outset. Leddy tells the story of his grandfather, Felix O’Neill, who was out ploughing one day when the boot of a British soldier buried on his land got caught up in his plough. The horse drawing the plough took fright and bolted injuring Felix in the process. He died a year after the accident. Not only did he have to pay his hospital expenses but also has to pay for the removal of a second soldier and shipping them home to England. The cost was £500, a fortune in 1926.
Tommy Leddy’s grandmother was forced to sell the farm to pay the bill and when the farm was sold she had to move to a broken down house. The roof, metaphorically and physically, fell in on her and she had to move to a shack on the side of the road in Reen Rua, Clonakilty.
How the soldiers came to be buried on the land emerged when Leddy attended a wedding in London. Apparently, the soldiers were based in Clonakilty and went for a rural walk one day but were captured by the IRA. They were held to ransom for an Irishman in prison in London. The British would not parley, the soldiers were shot and the IRA, without informing Felix, buried them on his land.
Tommy’s uncle Pete and his wife Celia had three girls and one of them, the late Breda, married Seamus Sheridan and built a house at Ross Cross, Tara. Breda was assistant matron at Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan for many years. And there are strong branches of the Leddy family with Carnaross, and Girley near Fordsown, Oldcastle and Navan.
Leddy has a good memory for names and places and has many engaging stories to tell about an idyllic childhood. His love of music started at 11 years old when his father bought him an accordion and that attachment to music has never left him. He was a member of the exotically named Sunray Ceili Band, then the Tom Trio, the Harmonica Aces, the Toppers Showband, but there was also real work to be done in Woolworths store, Peter Lyons Bakery, and Bellews Seeds. In 1968 he left the seed store and set up the Sound Shop music store with his friend Sean McEvoy and they never looked back.
Their HQ, the Mayoralty House on the quays alongside the Boyne was famous for many reasons but in 2008 the company moved to the East Coast Business Park on the south side of Drogheda, staring off a whole new era in music. But that wasn’t the end of the story – Leddy’s long-time ambition of opening a theatre came to fruition in 2010 when the 900-seat TLT was officially opened with Paddy Cole as the guest artist.