A memorial mass has taken place in Co Waterford for Brendan Bowyer, the front man of the The Royal Showband.

The 81-year-old died in Las Vegas in May 2020, but his family were unable to bring his remains home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

His ashes were interred in Dunmore East after the service.

The man who was regarded as king of the 1960s showband era was remembered in a ceremony in his native Waterford attended by family, friends and fans that was filled with nostalgia and memories.

Chief celebrant Fr Brian D'Arcy asked the congregation, many of whom he said had travelled long distances to attend the service, not to listen to what he was saying but to "dream" about the era which Brendan Bowyer is most associated with.

"Just dream on. The sweaty ballrooms, the twirling skirt, the Hucklebuck shoes, the dances. Standing in awe as Brendan sang the old ballads. Let your memories drift into those.

"The mineral bar and the fella that asked you for the last dance, hoping that he had a car. All of those are what we think of and as you think of those, stay with them and thank god that you were lucky enough to live through the best era we ever had.

"Why? Because of Brendan Bowyer and the Royal Showband. We owe it all to them."

Fr D'Arcy, who was the chaplain to the band and a friend of Brendan Bowyer, said The Royal Showband had played a key role in modernising and revolutionising Ireland at the time

"They turned Ireland from a dark place without electricity into an industrial nation with a vision of the future," he said.

"They were part of the Lemass revolution. The Royal revolutionised everything. They gave us freedom, happiness, joy, a different vision of life, a confidence in ourselves that we too could be part of this success."

He said the band were the first of the showbands to record their material and had done so in Abbey Road before the Beatles because there was no facilities to record in Ireland. He said Brendan Bowyer had the first Number One hit in Ireland with the song 'Kiss me Quick'.

Fr Darcy spoke affectionately about the impact The Royal Showband had on him in his youth when his father allowed him to go and see them perform.

"He allowed me to cycle into the dance that night and what I saw there transformed my life," Fr Darcy said.

"There was The Royal Showband in the Red Devils uniform, the like of which I'd never seen. I'd seen black and grey on men but never red before. And the music, the sound, the beat, the enthusiasm.

"As John Lennon later said, it was like a talent competition watching The Royal Showband, you had so many different people singing, playing different kinds of instruments, different kinds of instrumentals. It was phenomenal.

"Elvis Presley came alive that night. All of sudden the freedom of music hit me that night and thanks be to god it never left me."

Brendan Bowyer had lived in America for decades and had a 60-year career that included a Las Vegas residency and performances in venues such as Carnegie Hall and Royal Albert Hall.

Elvis Presley came to one of his performances in Las Vegas and later recorded one of his songs.

At a performance in Liverpool in 1962, a young band called the Beatles supported The Royal Showband and were reported to have been paid £20 for their services.

The band had six number one hits, with Brendan Bowyer's version of Chubby Checker's 'The Hucklebuck' going platinum.

His family took part in today's service and left the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity Within in Waterford city to the applause of friend and fans who had attended the service.

After the ceremony, Brendan's ashes were interred with his parents in Dunmore East.

He is survived by his wife Stella, children Brendan Junior, Aisling and Clodagh, as well as his grandchildren and sisters.