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Dublin, city of music, honours Luke Kelly

Luke Kelly is an absolute legend of Irish music after enjoying decades of success with the traditional Irish folk band The Dubliners.

Dublin salutes the legacy of iconic Irish folk musician Luke Kelly, with the unveiling of two statues celebrating the man and his music.

Music beats strong in the heart of Dublin and the city has long honoured its troubadours, whose songs capture and whose talent gives voice to the Irish story. 

Doheny and Nesbitts

One of the most influential of these was Luke Kelly, founding member of superstar folk band The Dubliners. The musician and social activist is considered to have played a pivotal role in the revival of Irish traditional music.

To mark the 35th anniversary of his death, two statues of Kelly were recently unveiled in Dublin, one commissioned by the city and the other gifted to it.

Award-winning, German-born artist Vera Klute’s commissioned statue is an imposing two-metre high head depicting Kelly in full song, his face fashioned from marble and his distinctive curly hair from patinated metal. It sits on a plinth along the Royal Canal near Kelly’s birthplace.

Luke Kelly, by Vera Klute

The other statue is a life-size bronze figure of Kelly singing and playing his five-string banjo in a pose familiar to all who saw him play. It is located on South King Street, an area associated with Kelly as a musician, and home to the famous Gaiety Theatre where he performed.

Luke Kelly statue

The statue was sculpted by John Coll, who also created the statues of writers Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan which have become Dublin landmarks.

Luke Kelly’s voice and passion have inspired singers and musicians for decades.

Today, pubs like The Cobblestone, The Auld Dubliner, Doheny and Nesbitt’s and hundreds more ring out across Dublin with folk and trad music every evening and, like as not, someone, somewhere will give a rendition of On Raglan Road or Scorn Not His Simplicity – songs made famous by Kelly.

O’Donoghue’s in Dublin is the perfect place to hear the echoes of Kelly’s voice. It’s where The Dubliners used to play and where their spirit is kept alive by today’s musicians who play amongst an array of drawings and photos of Irish musicians adorning the walls.

The city’s Traditional Irish Musical Pub Crawl is a great way to explore the history of trad music, including Kelly’s legacy. The two-and-a-half-hour tour follows local musicians on a journey of music and banter, with a few stops along the way to wet the whistle.

And throughout the year, the spirit of Luke Kelly lives on in buskers and bands, at gigs, festivals, concerts and impromptu sessions – capturing the essence of Ireland in song.

You can read more about the remarkable career of Luke Kelly, and see some of his best videos, by visiting irishmusicdaily.com.

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Written by Andrew Moore

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