A CELTIC rock band from Ballydehob were left devastated after being denied entry to the United States for St Patrick’s Day festivities.
Members of Rubicon were planning to fly from Dublin to Philadelphia to visit their friend Denis Minihane, who runs an Irish bar in a small town called Elkton. The band have been regular visitors there for the past five years and had never experienced problems before with the US authorities at Dublin Airport, despite carrying instruments.
Speaking to The Southern Star, band member Francine O’Thurnheer said the incident at Dublin Airport was very upsetting for them.
‘We were so upset about not meeting up with everyone over in Elkton. Denis is like family to us and when we rang him he couldn’t believe it,’ said Francine.
‘My husband Hansel and I got through no problem but when we got to the gate there was no sign of Dorian and Anita, who had been pulled from two different queues by officers and quizzed about their intentions in visiting the United States.’
With minutes left to board both Francine and Hansel were also questioned about their intentions to play music over there.
‘I told the officer that our flights are paid for by Denis and that we stay with him and we always go over for St Patrick’s Day. But he had his mind made up and said we would not be gaining entry. He was very abrupt and would not listen to us.’
Francine was then told that they would never be able to gain entry to the United States using the ESTA holiday visa and that in future they would have to apply to the American Embassy in Dublin.
‘It was so disheartening for us and we had no choice but to go back home in our van. We also heard of other bands experiencing the same problem and who were also denied entry. The whole idea of St Patrick’s Day is to share culture but they were of the opinion that we were getting paid but I’d have made more money if I stayed here gigging for the weekend,’ added Francine.
Elkton’s loss was however Ballydehob’s gain as Rubicon ended up playing in Vincent O’Mahony’s Bar in the village that night.