Best Foot Forward play their final gig at the Bridge House, Tullamore tonight Ger Kidney, Ray and Mick Lynam missing Pat Fulton. Picture: Ger Rogers/HR Photo.

Best Foot Forward say thanks with one final hurrah

After a career spanning three decades and performances during that time in as many countries, four-piece band Best Foot Forward this evening (Friday) will treat an audience in Tullamore to one final concert before packing away their instruments for good. Founder member of Best Foot Forward Ger Kidney looked back on the band's highs and lows this week for the Offaly Independent, starting with the its initial formation for just five nights in May 1998 "just for a bit of craic". Band members included Ray Murphy from Blueball and Michael Lynam, Pat Fulton and Ger Kidney from Rahan. Michael and Ger had been playing together since 1989 as a two piece, but got the others on board when they decided to put a ballad group together for a five-night run in Flynn's of Banagher. "After three nights we were getting big crowds so we said we'd make a go of it," Ger said. After first playing pub gigs, Best Foot Forward later became a hugely popular wedding band. During the course of their career they played all over Ireland as well as both the UK and America. Pat left the band in 2009 but tonight will see the band back together again and the final performance from Ger on bass guitar and vocals, Michael on acoustic guitar and vocals, Ray on banjo and mandolin and Pat on bodhran, harmonica and vocals. The reasons behind the band's demise are many Ger said, but the pub scene getting quieter and the work commitments of band members are both part of it. Looking back over their years as Best Foot Forward, Ger said that the highlight for the whole band is the friendships the experience has brought them. "We're bringing with us an awful lot of friendships," he said. "We got to meet literally hundreds of people we became friends with. The good nights are gone, but they're still there." The one message Ger said the band wants to send out before tonight's last hurrah is simple - thanks. "We had a name for always having a crowd, but that was to do with the people," he said. "We'd like to say thanks to all who came to gigs over the years and made our nights. That was very uplifting for us." Now Ger said all band members are asking for is one more great night. Tonight's farewell gig will include performances from The Dubliners Tribute Band, Ruaile Buaile, Geasa and Dermot Byrne from Altan as well as Best Foot Forward and will feature Colin Hughes as MC. "There's room for everyone," Ger said, encouraging everyone to come out for one last night that will also see funds raised for local charities Offaly Hospice and the Alzheimer's Society of Ireland. Tickets priced at €12 are available for pre-booking or on the door of the gig that will take place tonight in the ballroom of the Bridge House Hotel. Doors for the show open at 8pm, with what's promised to be an unforgettable show starting at 8.30pm.