Johnny Cash recording found in biscuit tin in shed

By Mary Dennehy

A RARE recording of a 1963 Johnny Cash gig in Dublin, which spent most of its life in a biscuit tin in a Tallaght shed, has inspired a televised documentary – replaying the rhythm for those in attendance and those, who can only wish they were.

Enda Shorthall (79) has for more than five decades had the rare recording of Cash’s National Stadium concert safely stored in a USA biscuit tin in his garden shed.

Enda Shorthall with son David 1

An avid collector, Enda Shorthall is pictured with his son David in his Tallaght shed and in the second image is the 1963 recording sitting in the biscuit tin

Living in Tallaght with wife Bernadette, Enda, who has seven children, is well known about his area, where he cares for the grounds of his local church and school campus.

As a young lad, Enda was always interested in music, sound and technology and after his dad gave him his first tape recorder in the early sixties, he was hooked.

Despite working a day job, a 22-year-old Enda got a part-time gig with Dermot Hurley, who owned a sound engineering business.

“We were coming into the showband era at that time and Dermot used to supply bands with their gear, microphones, amps, speakers”, Enda told The Echo.

“I remember Dermot asking me a day or two before the Johnny Cash concert if I’d like to come along, and I was only delighted.”

A 31-year-old Johnny Cash was on a 14-date, two week tour of Ireland when he plugged into the National Stadium in Dublin in October, 1963.

Enda Shorthall Cash recording 1963 1

The reel to reel tape player that Enda tracked down six years ago

“Myself and Dermot were up in the commentary box and we recorded the whole show live”, Enda said.

“It was amazing to be in the middle of it, a Johnny Cash concert...

“When you heard him starting off Walk the Line or Ring of Fire, it was magic.”

Somehow that magical recording ended up in an old USA biscuit tin in Enda’s shed, and due to a broken reel to reel tape player, didn’t see the sunshine since Enda doesn’t know when.

JOHNNY CASH 1

Johnny Cash

However, around six years ago, Enda tracked down a reel to reel tape player and the rhythm of Johnny Cash in the National Stadium Dublin 1963 was played in all its glory.

“It was great to hear it again, to listen to that night again”, Enda said.

“This was the only recording made of that concert... and after all of those years sitting in a biscuit tin, the quality was so good.”

After listening to the recording, Enda’s son David encouraged his dad to share the story of the recording, and they contacted RTE Radio’s Documentary on One.

“I remember listening to the recording [six years ago] and being blown away by the quality...and the intimacy and rawness of it”, David told The Echo.

“I was blown away by the whole recording,  Johnny Cash was really funny, he did more talking than singing.”

In 2018, and inspired by the recording, Documentary on One aired Johnny Cash’s Lost Tour of Ireland, a radio production which two years later inspired a televised version.

On New Year’s Day 2021, RTE broadcast The Man Comes Around: Johnny Cash comes to Ireland, which featured Enda and his boss Dermot’s recording from 57 years ago.

The unique soundbite of musical history captured Cash’s first tour in Ireland, which, according to RTE, there is very little documented evidence of.

The documentary, which also looks at Cash’s relationship with Ireland and interviews people who saw him in rural venues nationwide during his 1963, two-week tour,  is available to watch on RTE Player.

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