Scottish superstar Rod Stewart has had decades of success and written some of rock music’s most enduring classics.
However, the star has always had a soft spot for the Irish song ‘Grace’ which he describes as ‘one of the most beautiful, tragic and heart breaking songs I’ve ever heard’.
Stewart recorded the song in 2018 for his album album Blood Red Roses, but he has been a fan of the song for decades.
The song tells the story of Grace Gifford who was the wife of Easter Rising leader Joseph Plunkett and was heavily involved in 1916 Rising herself.
The couple were set to marry over Easter 1916, but their plans were put on hold as that was the weekend chosen for the uprising against British rule.
The Rising lasted for six days and ultimately failed. However, what happened in the aftermath turned public opinion in Ireland to the extent that becoming independent from Britain became inevitable.
Plunkett along with his fellow leaders were all executed, in what was seen as a barbaric overreaction to their actions in the Rising.
Plunkett was allowed to marry Gifford in Kilmainham Gaol – but was led out to die minutes later.
Both the tragic story of the lovestruck Easter Rising heroes and the song that they inspired struck a chord with Stewart.
He said he wanted to perform the song on the BBC in 2018 but was told they couldn’t allow it because of ‘anti-English overtones’ in the song.
Stewart said: “They won’t let me sing “Grace” because of its Irish, anti-English overtones in the song. Forget about it, it’s one of the greatest love songs ever written. The guy goes to his death 15 minutes the next morning after he’s been married, and I can’t sing that one either.”
The BBC have denied this claim.
Stewart visited the grave of Gifford in Glasnevin Cemetery as well as Kilmainham Gaol while he was in Dublin to appear as a guest on the Late Late Show.
He was moved by the experience and spoke about the significance of the places he had seen on his trip.
He said: “I visited the jail and went into the chapel where it all happened. So it means a lot to me, that one, it really does. There was no furniture in the jail apart from the bed of jail, no table, no bed, no chair, nothing.
“Just sat on the floor, and the glass that was there when I visited wasn’t there in those days, so the wind and the snow came straight into the cell.
“Man’s inhumanity to man never stops to astonish me.”
The star was moved to tears during his appearance on the Late Late Show when host Ryan Tubridy surprised him by introducing him to the brothers who wrote the song – Sean and Frank O’Meara.
Tubridy had told him: “I’m going to introduce you to two people. Their names are Sean and Frank O’Meara, they wrote the song Grace.”
Stewart embraced the two brothers and turned them round to face the audience so they could receive a round of applause.
Sean O’Meara said: “The last ten or fifteen minutes have been overwhelming for us. That somebody of the stature of Rod Stewart would sing our song is beyond comprehension.”
Take a look the video below of Rod Stewart performing Grace at Caesars Palace in 2018
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Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling