Celebrations to mark Rory Gallagher’s 70th birthday

Celebrations to mark Rory Gallagher’s 70th birthday
Rory Gallagher arrives at Cork Airport for the Macroom concert on June 26, 1978.

GUITAR virtuoso Rory Gallagher would have celebrated his 70th birthday at the weekend.

The Donegal-born and Cork-based musician is revered among the best ever produced in the country, with local, national and international musicians all taking to social media to post tributes to the guitarist.

Rory Gallagher playing at the Isle of White Festival. Pic: John Minihan
Rory Gallagher playing at the Isle of White Festival. Pic: John Minihan

Many of the world’s best-known guitarists have paid tribute to Gallagher over the years, with Johnny Marr of the Smiths, Queen’s Brian May and, even, chart-topper Ed Sheeran among those keen to make their admiration known in recent years.

U2’s The Edge also famously referred to Gallagher as ‘an amazing guitar player’, while the legendary Jeff Beck described the two as ‘kindred spirits.’

From his time with Taste, formed in Cork in the 1960s, until his untimely death in June 1995, Gallagher became a master of the blues.

Rory on stage in Rotterdam in 1974. Pic: Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns
Rory on stage in Rotterdam in 1974. Pic: Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns

His impact is keenly felt decades later, with blues bands of all ages flocking to Cork each year to get a taste of what he enjoyed, while the annual Gallagher Festival in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, continues to grow in popularity each year.

The mark that Gallagher left on Cork and, indeed, the wider community was highlighted in June 2015 during the ‘Remembering Rory’ event.

A series of concerts and other events marked the 20th anniversary of his death, including an exhibition of previously unseen photographs at the Rory Gallagher Library and musical performances in the Rory Gallagher Plaza on Paul Street.

Rory at the Macroom Mountain Dew Festival.
Rory at the Macroom Mountain Dew Festival.

The guitarist’s brother played a song of his on Shandon Bells, while Cork’s radio stations joined in the tribute by playing music throughout the day. The event drew attendees from all over Europe, with Gallagher die-hards keen to mark the event on Leeside.

Locally, a series of tribute events had been planned throughout Cork city late last week to mark Gallagher’s birthday, though the severe weather conditions scuppered most of these.

They included an event at the Rory Gallagher Music Library on Grand Parade, where local and international musicians had planned a touching musical tribute. A special event was also set to take place at CIT, marking the location of his last ever Cork gig.

John Wilson with Rory Gallagher.
John Wilson with Rory Gallagher.

A plaque has been mounted in the West Atrium of CIT’s Bishopstown campus, including a picture of Gallagher, where he played on November 18, 1993.

That gig was a headline show at the inaugural Cork Arts Festival and marked Gallagher’s final concert in Ireland.

It took place just two years before he passed from complications following a liver transplant.

These were just the start of a year of tribute events planned, with Cyprus Avenue set to host ‘Cork Rocks for Rory’ this June.

The event, hosted each summer, is among the standout moments in the city’s musical calendar each year, with the venue inviting some of the world’s best Gallagher tribute acts to play in his adopted home town.

This year, Sinnerboy and the Mississippi Sheiks will play, with the event taking place on June 9. As ever, it is expected to be a sell out.

Rory Gallagher walking up St Patrick's Hill.
Rory Gallagher walking up St Patrick's Hill.

For those who don’t make it, though, fear not as Universal Music has planned a very special tribute event to mark what would have been Rory’s 70th birthday.

The label has confirmed the upcoming reissue of his entire solo catalogue on remastered CD and 180-gram vinyl LP. Available on March 16, it is the first time that Gallagher’s entire body of work has been available globally.

Marking the release, Rory’s brother Donal said: “My only sibling wasn’t one for birthdays, but his birthday gives us a good reason to celebrate Rory’s music and legacy.”

More in this section

Sponsored Content