Thank you for reading our month of featured musicians and groups.
Today is the last day of August which means our features are at an end. I have decided to end on a good note with a singer who was not only a great singer but a musician and actor to boot. I am finishing today with none other than the late great Luke Kelly. Luke was born in the heart of Dublin not fife minutes from O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main thoroughfare. His father worked in Jacobs’s biscuit factory and passed on his love of football to Luke and his brother Paddy who both played Gaelic football in their youth. Luke’s grandmother who was a MacDonald from Scotland lived with the Kelly family until her death in 1953, and it was from her that Luke learned many of the songs from Scotland that he recorded such as Tibie Dunbar and Mormond Braes. Luke left school at 13 and went to England in 1958 to work. It was while in England he attended sessions and after taking up the banjo began busking. On a trip home he went to Fleadh Cheoil in Milltown Malbay in county Clare. Luke’s banjo playing was greatly influenced by musicians such as Pete Seeger and Tommy Makem.
When Luke returned home from England in 1968 and went to sessions in places such as Donoghue’s pub and was soon singing with Ronnie Drew and Barney McKenna. Luke was one of the founding members of The Dubliner’s and it was Kelly who gave the group the name. From reading James Joyce’s book of short stories entitled the Dubliner.
In June 1980 while performing at the Cork Opera House Luke Kelly Collapsed on stage and was later diagnosed with a brain tumour. Luke continued to tour with the Dubliner’s even though he had to leave some shows and spend a lot of time in hospital. In December 1983 he was taken in to hospital and on 30th January 1984 Luke Kelly passed away.
His legacy still lives on in songs and in the many documentaries that were made about him. The Ballyboughal Bridge in Dublin City was renamed the Luke Kelly bridge. Christmas 2005 saw the release of Luke Kelly The Performer documentary which outsold U2 that festive season.
I could go on and on and write about Luke Kelly and his life but there is so much. One story about Luke Kelly that sticks in my mind is one that a close personal friend who used to be in the same school as Kelly told me not long before he died was that Kelly was the kind of person who would stand up to bullies who were bullying this friend and other children in the school. He was an iconic figure in Irish folk music and his grave stone in Glasnevin cemetery which I have visited many times reads Luke Kelly Dubliner.
To finish out our features this month I have chosen the song Scorn Not His Simplicity written by Phil Coulter about his autistic son. Kelly had such respect for the song that he only ever performed it live once since recording it. Even though Raglan Road was one of Kelly’s more popular songs this one is possibly one of my favourite songs of all time.
We hope you have enjoyed our featured artist/groups this month.
Darragh here. I want to add a little to what Jade has said about Luke Kelly. The music that we hear has the power to put us in a great mood, to make us feel sad or to remind us of something important. The Night visiting song is important to my family as it reminds us of my grand mother on my fathers side. I’d therefore like to put a link to it here. If there is a song or artist that is important to you, please let us know. Although our month of featured artists is now at an end, we will continue to regularly highlight the amazing musicians and groups that we are privlidged to play on Ceol FM.
There is a beautiful video for Luke Kelly available on Youtube where some very well known Irish musicians pay tribute to him. It ends with a song called The Minstrel Boy that was written in his memory.