Saturday 18 November 2017

Rebel with many a cause who worked tirelessly to perfect his art

The Dubliners' Luke Kelly.
The Dubliners' Luke Kelly.

Diarmaid Ferriter

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the premature death of folk singer Luke Kelly.

Although words like 'legendary' and 'genius' are overused in relation to those who have made a mark on our cultural and political history – especially those whose lives were cut tragically short – they are accolades fully justified in relation to Kelly.

No one could sing like him. His friend and biographer, the trade unionist Des Geraghty, summed up his appeal, by insisting "he had a quality impossible to define and certainly impossible to learn". But this did not mean that Luke Kelly did not work hard; though blessed with a raw talent, he went to great efforts to perfect his vocal technique and constantly expand his repertoire, to include not just Irish but also international influences.

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