Cork’s famous bells of Shandon rang out across the city yesterday in memory of one of her favourite sons and one of the world’s greatest guitar players — Rory Gallagher.
At 1.10pm local radio stations and landmarks remembered the great man by playing his music and reading poems in his honour.
Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the death of the great man who died at the too young age of 47 and Leeside pulled out all the stops to remember the man born in Donegal but who called Cork his home.
Red FM, 96FM, C103 Cork and UCC 98.3FM blasted out Rory’s famous hit ‘Tattoo’d Lady’ from the album Tattoo.
At the same time Shandon bells rang out a few notes of the song, while a live rendition of the song was played in Rory Gallagher Plaza.
Music around the city was provided from a whole host of musicians such as tribute acts Sinnerboy and Mishap, while Crojayn, playing outside Brown Thomas, also provided shoppers with high-class Gallagher.
Many of Cork’s bars also got in on the act, playing Rory hits throughout the day, as well as playing ‘Tattoo’d Lady’ at lunchtime.
Poet Gerry Murphy also did a reading of Louis de Paor’s poem ‘Rory’ — an ode to the iconic guitarist.
De Paor, a Corkman himself and a self-confessed Rory Gallagher nut, saw the great man play at least 12 times and said the poem was his attempt to convey just how much Gallagher meant to adoring fans all over the world.
“I can think of no other musician or artist who gave as much of himself to his audience. The poem wonders whether he fully realised how much he meant to those of us who were at the receiving end of his reckless generosity,” he said.
In short, Cork City was alive to the strains of one of its most famous sons.
Like Bruce Springsteen, few musicians have garnered the type of worship that Rory Gallagher has. A consummate live performer, his gigs achieved legendary status and those lucky enough to have been present when the great man played still talk about it as a seminal moment in their musical development.
One group of fans is trying to persuade the BBC to honour Gallagher by dedicating a whole day of programming to him, for both TV and radio.
With the backing of artists such as Band of Friends, The Waterboys, the Undertones, Frankie Miller and others, they have set up a petition and Facebook page.
Gallagher is also remembered as a musician who was worshipped by other musicians. The list of those he inspired is endless, as are the famous tales of those who declined to be called great guitar players in the same breath as Rory Gallagher.
When Brian Jones died in 1969, The Rolling Stones wanted the Corkman to replace him in the band.
Eric Clapton credited him as getting him back into blues music.
And when the great Jimi Hendrix was asked what it was like to be the greatest guitar player in the world, he reportedly responded: “I don’t know, go ask Rory Gallagher.”
Brian May of Queen also attributed his sound to Gallagher.
Speaking about the remembrance events held all around the city, Rory’s brother Dónal said they were a testament to the enduring legacy of his music.
“On behalf of the Gallagher family, we are very grateful to all concerned in Cork, who have participated in marking my brother Rory’s 20th anniversary — the ‘soundscape’ throughout the county demonstrates the resonance and enduring legacy of his music — Rory forever,” he said.
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