A passion for music and appreciation for an Irish guitar legend has united showbiz stalwarts and Ireland’s first citizen at a special ceremony.
President Michael D Higgins officially unveiled the new boardroom at the Irish headquarters of the Fender music company which has been named after Rory Gallagher.
Members of the Gallagher family, as well as long-term fans of the Cork guitarist, such as Dave Fanning and Hot Press editor Niall Stokes, attended the event, which took place a week after what would have been Gallagher’s 70th birthday.
President Higgins, who had attended the funeral of piper Liam O’Flynn that morning, praised the legacy and achievements of Gallagher, and spoke of his own fondness for the guitarist who died in 1995 at the age of 47.
“In the Áras, I have a picture of Phil Lynott and Rory Gallagher together,” said President Higgins. “When people come to visit me in my office, they always recognise Rory and ask me about the picture.
“One of the most important things is that what he contributed will last forever, and his reputation will grow greater and greater.”
The President was presented with a box set of 16 of Rory Gallagher’s solo albums, which have just been released on 180-gram vinyl and CD by Universal.
For Gallagher’s brother Donal, who also acted as his manager and close companion through the unassuming rock star’s years of fame, the event brought memories flooding back.
“It’s so emotional, as you think that Rory should be here himself — he should be getting the accolade, he should see this,” he said.
“You get mixed emotions, but it’s wonderful to see. The central thing today was Rory’s guitar, and his guitar was the most important things in his life, the guitar that was in the window of the shop in Cork, and was one of the first Fenders in Ireland.
“It’s extraordinary, all these years later, that it comes full circle.”
Gallagher bought that Fender Stratocaster in 1963 on hire purchase for £100 from the now-defunct Crowley’s music shop on Merchant’s Quay in Cork.
Donal also recalled Rory’s encounters with such figures as Guns ’n’ Roses guitarist Slash, and the Smiths’ Johnny Marr, who are pictured in the Fender office holding Rory’s Strat.
“I remember the day that Marr called into my office in London and asked if he could play Rory’s guitar that night on stage for his gig, so we let him,” said Donal. “And Rory had a lot of time for Johnny Marr as well; they had met.”
An artwork unveiled in the Fender office is by Alec Galloway, and features an image of Rory’s guitar, as well as a collage of pieces from Gallagher’s own instruments.
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