Pat O’Brien, Founder & Managing Director of Audio International has been in the sound business for over 40 years. During the 60’s Pat built, supplied and serviced sound systems for many of the Showbands and ‘Beat Groups‘ that played all over Ireland, North, South, East & West. These were pioneering days in the professional audio business, when sound systems were evolving from the old type P.A. with ‘Horn’ speakers into systems that had multiple microphone inputs and loudspeakers that could produce bigger full range sounds. Bands such as Brendan Boyer & the Big 8, Dickie Rock & the Miami, Clipper Carlton, Joe Dolan & the Drifters, Eileen Reid & the Cadets, Butch Moore & the Capital, Cahir O’Doherty’s Dazzle Band, The Freshmen etc., all of whom came to see, listen to and buy Pat’s ‘Giant Boxes‘.
Pat also worked during this period with renowned International artists such as Tom Jones, Louis Armstrong, Pete Seeger, The Everly Brothers, The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, Gene Autry, Hank Snow & Slim Whitman.
In the late 60s & early 70s Pat operated systems for eminent international artists like, Roy Orbison, The Beach Boys, The Pete Best Band, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Frankie Lane, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Roger Whittaker, Richard Harris, Peters & Lee, Stephan Grapelli, Joan Baez, Charlie Pride, Matt Munroe, Frankie Vaughan, Rita Coolidge & Kris Kristofferson. Looking for new challenges Pat then moved into theatre and designed, installed and operated sound systems for shows such as West Side Story, Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Side By Side By Sondheim, The Bells of Hell, The King, Cabaret & Jesus Christ Superstar. In fact, during West Side Story, Pat was the only person in the Olympia Theatre when the Proscenium Arch collapsed into the orchestra pit! (Talk about bringing the house down). As he recalls “It was fortunate & unfortunate at the same time. The band had just broke for lunch during dress rehearsals, I was in the gods making some final adjustments when I heard a loud cracking noise, I looked around to see the ‘pros arch’ fall into the pit were the band had been only a few minutes earlier”. “Fortunately, nobody was killed but all of the instruments were destroyed and some sound equipment was damaged”. “Unfortunately for the Olympia the show couldn’t go on and the next day we opened in the State Cinema across the Liffey in Phibsboro, after moving the entire production set, band, sound n’ all in 24hours. In 1975 Audio International Ltd. was born and Pat was awarded the sole distributorship for the 32 counties of the internationally acclaimed BOSE Professional & Hi-Fi range of equipment. Most all of his old friends from the band days came back to buy their ‘Bose’ from Pat and some new kids on the block also came like; The Furey Brothers & Davy Arthur, Johnny McEvoy, Jim McCann, Red Hurley, Gypsy Lacey, Colm Wilkinson, Tony Kenny, Paddy Reilly, The Bards, Brendan Grace & The Legendary Dubliners to name but a few. On the Hi-Fi side, things went through the roof. He took on agencies such as Yamaha, Technics, Stanton, Audio Technica & Panasonic. Installations in Pubs, restaurants, Discos, Hotels and Churches followed. The Oak bar, Dame street, Timmermans, The Hirschfeld Centre, Club Nassau, Fans, Kites & Kingsland Chinese restaurants, Club Après, The Gate Inn, The Top Hat, The White Horse Hotel, Kelly’s Hotel, Rosslare, The Ardboyne & Nurenmore Hotels, Samanthas Nite Club, Suzy Street, The Apartment Club, Churches in Finglas, Darndale, Portmarnock & Blakestown. RTE’s Radio & Television studios were at one time supplied entirely with Bose equipment from Pat. During this time Pat continued his work in theatre and operating systems for large scale events such as the Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland, Rose of Tralee Festivals including the 21st, 25th & 30th anniversaries, Siamsa Cois Laoi, Ballet Jazz de Montreal, ROSC Exhibitions, Miss Ireland/World Competition & the Eurovision Song Contest. The company truly went international when Pat was contracted to operate sound on the Chichester Jazz & Sanyo Jazz Festivals in the UK featuring names like Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughan, Spike Milligan, Jacques Lucier, Paz & The Swingle Singers.
In September 1981 Pat’s brother Tom joined the company and his first task was to take over the reins as sound engineer on Noel Pearson‘s highly acclaimed show The Pirates of Penzance. Other shows followed; Oliver, Tom Foolery, Voices, HMS Pinafore, Mass Appeal, Gypsy, Bugsy Malone, Nunsense & The Informer starring Liam Neeson. Other big name concerts included; Dorey Previn, George Melly, Niall Toibin, Makem & Clancey, Johnny Logan, Marcel Marceau & Billy Connolly. In the mid 1980’s during a global economic downturn Pat & Tom decided to concentrate entirely on the Professional side of the business and close the book on the Hi-Fi end of things. Glenduff Ltd T/a Audio International was born with Theatre & Concert Sound a specialty, installations were still a big part of the business and Audio International were awarded the tender (against intense international competition) to design, supply and install what turned out to be the highly acclaimed Bose/Yamaha sound systemin the National Concert Hall, Dublin. As a consequence of the installation Audio Int. were contracted to operate the system for all of the big name orchestras & acts that the NCH were now attracting like; Gene Pitney, Stockhausen, Frank Patterson, John McNally, Robert White, RTE Concert Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra, Petula Clarke, Vince Hill, Up with People, Music for Fun, Cilla Black, Dublin Pops Orchestra, Damen Capella Orchestra, Phil Coulter & John Williams as well as the RTE Television shows beamed live from the NCH such as; IRMA Milk Awards, Jacobs Radio & TV Awards, Housewife of the Year Awards & The National Entertainment Awards. The Rathmines & Rathgar Musical Society employed our services for their 70th Anniversary production and they have contracted Audio Int. for every show since including their 75th, 80th & 90th Anniversary productions. The Whitehouse Communications Agency commissioned Audio International to provide all of their sound requirements for the visit of President Ronald Reagan to Ireland. Corporate events and product launches for Ford, Peugeot, Office of Public Works, the Rehab Institute, The GAA All Stars, Budweiser, Eircom, Renault, Allied Irish Banks, Aer Lingus, Jefferson Smurfit, Cartier & the SIMI followed throughout the 80’s & 90’s. In 1988 their old friends The Dubliners came calling. After entering the Top 10 in the singles charts with “The Irish Rover” in collaboration with the Pogues, they asked Audio International to provide them with a touring system that would cater for all their needs on their World Tours. 1988 was also the year that the Independent Radio & Television Commission was set-up and Audio Int. were immediately contacted to provide the Sound reinforcement for the public license hearings as well as providing the sound recordings of all the proceedings.
1992 saw Audio International move in the direction of ‘Active Loudspeakers’ when they were awarded the sole distributorship of the SOUND PROJECTS range of equipment for Ireland & the UK. The audio revolution had begun! New customers such as The Glasnevin, Malahide, Lakeland & Celbridge Musical Societies, Fossets Circus and The Dublin Theatre festival as well as The West End Production of ‘Guys And Dolls‘ and the Kevin Wood production of ‘Beauty and the Beast‘, which starred Lionel Blair, were among the first to use the new active loudspeakers. Irelands greatest traditional Pantomime that takes place each year in the Gaiety Theatre also employed Audio International to provide the sound for their productions of Mother Goose, Cinderella, Babes in the Wood, Sinbad to mention but a few. More installations followed, The Ark Childrens Centre and Meeting House Square, both for Temple Bar Properties. The early 90’s saw the National Concert Hall wanting a change of mixing console. Extra facilities and an increase in the number of channels were the criteria and saw Audio International import and Install the first Yamaha PM4000/48 in Ireland. Ronnie Drew left the Dubliners and embarked on a solo career, which saw him bring his one-man show on a nationwide tour aided by the services of Audio International. The Dubliners replaced him with Paddy Reilly and they also went Active with a Sound Projects system from Audio Int. In 1997 The N.C.H. went ‘Active’. A Sound Projects SP-4FR Active System replaced the now ageing Bose system. Again, Audio International was chosen above international competition to install and commission the new system. The National Theatre of Ireland (The Abbey) went both Active and Mobile when they bought a Sound Projects Active touring system. The following year Aras an Uachtarain (The Official Residence of the President of Ireland) called on Audio International to provide the sound systems for President Mary McAleese’s Open Days and Special Events in the great house. In 1999 plays in the Gaiety Theatre such as Moll, The White Headed Boy and Women on the Verge of HRT started to use Active sound systems supplied by Audio International including the highly praised Gala Tribute to Maureen Potter. Barnstorm Theatre Co. The Billie Barrie School, The National Ballet Co., Opera Ireland and The Barretstown Project that was set-up by Paul Newman also used Sound Projects Active systems. Famous faces to support the charity and play on stage to raise funds were Paul McCartney, The Edge, Marianne Faithfull, Rebecca Storm & Dara O’Briain.
Corporate events for K-Tel records, Football Association of Ireland, Office of Public works, Yamaha, the GAA and Rehab were still on the agenda as well as summer and winter seasons in the Red Cow Hotel complex with comedians June Rodgers, Dave Young, Joanna & Tequila Sunrise and their guests. Poetry Ireland, Brendan O’Carroll and the Dublin Institute of Technology were now all using Active sound systems supplied by Audio International. Installations continued with a communications and calls system in the Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, a sound system in St. Joseph’s church in Newtownmountkennedy, and Active sound systems in Donard Festival Hall and Tim Younges Disco Bar. Audio International continued its relationship with the world of broadcasting and when the Independent Radio & Television Commission (IRTC) changed its name to The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) we were asked to provide the sound for the prestigious occasion. 2002 saw Audio International take on three new installations. The Helix, DCU was the biggest with a Concert Hall, A Theatre and a Studio Theatre. The entire project for Sound and Communications including the Outside Broadcast infrastructure was awarded to Audio International against fierce international competition. Sound Projects Active systems were again the preferred choice. Later that year Liberty Hall, Dublin was refurbished and Audio International was awarded the contract to supply the Sound and Communications systems. The inaugural show and world premier of “Larkin, The Musical” was operated using the new in-house system and the talents of Audio International. Also that year The Teachers Club Theatre was refurbished and again Audio Int. Installed the Sound and Communications systems. Sound Projects Active systems were installed in both of these Theatres. 2004 also saw a return to Dublin for Riverdance. This time around they went into the Gaiety Theatre for a 12 week run for which they contracted Audio Int. to provide Sound Projects Active delay & infill loudspeakers. A 4 week run of the hit comedy “Stones in his Pockets” followed using an entire FOH Sound Projects system. To date Audio International still move onward and upward in providing full turnkey Audio Solutions for Theatre Shows, Concerts and Sound & Communications Installations. We have recently provided sound systems for the First Lady of Irish theatre Rebecca Storm, Paco Pena, Brian Kennedy, Finbar Furey, Joan Rivers, Peter Corry, Clancy & Odetta, the Theatre Arts School, The Celtic Tenors and Euro-Blues man Hans Theessink. On the installation side, the National Concert Hall felt that after 10 years of everyday use that their PM4000 console could do with a rest and again Audio Int. provided a first for Ireland when they installed a Yamaha PM5000/52 mixing Console. In 2007 Audio Int. installed a State-of-the-Art Sound Projects Line Array System in the NCH. This ‘Linex’ System was chosen by an independent Acoustics Consultant in a ‘Shoot-out’ against five other line array systems in comparison tests. The Gaiety Theatre awarded Audio International the contract to install five separate Active Sound systems in their late night clubs that span three floors of entertainment including two Disco bars, two live music venues and a Cinema. Installations still feature highly with new systems in Trinity Comprehensive, St. Damien’s N.S, Spin Dance and Fitness Studios, The Gate Theatre, Grosvenor Baptist Church & The Clasac Theatre. Audio International also provided the Sound System in the Gaiety Theatre for the Dublin Premiere of Mel Brooks’ Stage Musical ‘The Producers’.
Audio International continue to forge ahead in bringing new technology and innovation to the live and installed sound industry here in Ireland. The National Concert Hall now have Yamaha Digital Consolesthroughout their venues coupled with Shure Axient Digital Wireless systems. We continue to tour the world with The Dublin Legends (Formerly the Dubliners) as well as touring Ireland with Billy Connolly and Colm Wilkinson and have operated the sound for artists like, Imelda May, Damien Dempsey, Declan O’Rourke, BP Fallon, Mary Coughlan, Eleanor Shanley, Mike Hanrahan & Glen Hansard. We have recently supplied RTE Radio with Yamaha Digital Consoles and installed a Sound Projects System in the iconic London venue ‘The Roundhouse‘ which gave rise to such bands as Elton John, Led Zepplin, Fleetwood Mac, Deep Purple, T Rex, Queen, Status Quo, Pink Floyd, ELO, Genesis and many more.