Ireland’s Answer to Jim Reeves by James Reddiough
Jim Tobin started his career with “The Firehouse” in 1969, after singing with a local band in Co. Meath called “The Craftsmen”. He spent the next 12 years with them at the top of the country and Irish field of music.
It all started by chance when Jim auditioned for “The Times” show band from Mullingar, the band were in fact looking for a pop singer, but Des Doherty said to Jim “Seen as you’re here, sing a few songs anyway”. On hearing Jim sing he instantly knew the band for him, and informed The Firehouse of Jim’s voice. Eventually The Firehouse tracked Jim down about 6 months later, and Jim Tobin and The Firehouse became a household name after reaching No.1 with their first record, a Jim Reeves song “This is it” selected by the then band manager Noel Carty from Roscommon.
“This Is It” entered the charts in January 1970. The Firehouse were playing that night in Loughrea when it hit the top position in the Top Ten at number 1 in February 1970.Â After this we were in demand all over the country and we were especially popular in County Mayo and the neighbouring counties. We were one of the biggest bands in the country in 1970 and in the early 1970’s until there was a change of management and it took a while to adjust to this in the mid 1970’s.
Then the hits rolled again for Big Jim Tobin and the Firehouse, “Don’t You Fight the Feelings of Love”, “The Happiness of Having You”, “May the Wind be always at your back” and the one that charted in the Top Ten “Rhythm of Love”, they appeared on TV too and got their air play back on radio. They reached number one in August 1979 with a special song “Welcome John Paul” to mark the visit of the Pontiff to Ireland that year.
Jim said that “we toured the North where we were very popular and we toured England also. Finally, I left the music scene in 1982 after 12 good years with the Firehouse.
Tobin sounded a good deal like Jim Reeves and this prompted music writers to ask if this would be the next Jim Reeves in February 1970, within a year he had his answer when Tobin or Big Jim Tobin as they called him recorded a complete album of Jim Reeves songs called “Jim Tobin Remembers Jim Reeves” in 1971.
Yet Tobin had his own voice too and he recorded “That Little Isle of Green”, “Rhythm of Love”, and “January, April and Me” along with Jim Reeves numbers and his number 0ne hit with the song “Welcome John Paul” in August 1979, it was his last entry in the charts and shortly after this Jim Tobin and the Firehouse disbanded.
Jim was born in Skryne, Tara, Co. Meath where he still lives and his family have lived for generations. He worked a day job at that time too driving his father’s truck transporting sand and gravel and he remained at that job for a while when he was with the firehouse before embarking on a full time professional career in 1970.
Jim returned to his first love of truck driving when his show band days ended. He enjoys excellent health at present but sadly his wife Caroline of 45 years passed away suddenly in May 2015. He tells me it was an extremely heart-breaking and sad time for him, his two daughters Avril and Yvonne and his 3 grandchildren, Jamie, Cheyenne and Daniel, but he is thankful for his excellent health and continues to sing at local charity events.