Tuesday 17 July 2018

'Duty called...I was asked to represent my country' - Imelda May apologises for cancelling gig to sing at fight

Imelda May performs the Irish national anthem before the fight at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. Photo: PA Wire/PA Wire.
Boxing - Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs Conor McGregor - Las Vegas, USA - August 26, 2017 Imelda May sings the national anthem before the fight REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Laura Lynott

IMELDA May has apologised to fans at a festival for pulling out last minute to sing at the McGregor Vs Mayweather fight in Vegas - saying "duty called" to sing for Ireland, not money or fame.

The 43-year-old singer took to Instagram to give a heartfelt and lengthy apology to fans who’d attended the Down on the Close festival in Rugby, Warwickshire - where she’d been scheduled to headline on Saturday.

The Liberties mother-of-one had cancelled her hotly-anticipated performance to sing the Irish national anthem at the T-Mobile arena in Vegas ahead of the McGregor-Mayweather bout after the Crumlin star’s team asked her to sing with just two days notice.

@imeldaofficial posted on Instagram a picture of the Nevada desert and released a statement saying:  “I feel I need to address a few things. (Brace yourselves it's a long winded one!) I want to apologise to disappointed fans at Rugby’s Down On The Close Festival for letting you down.

“I get it. Myself and my management have been working closely with the promoter to fix this situation.

“I hear most people were fine and that the festival was a huge success and everyone had a great time that went.

“I hear Cara Dillon was amazing. I've had a long, lovely conversation with Lee Martin who runs the festival and he’s been so understanding.

“I did not make the decision to cancel, lightly. I did not do it for money by the way. I did not do it for fame. I am fully aware my performance will be probably forgotten in 2 seconds.

“I simply felt duty called...I was asked to represent my country at the biggest sporting event in our small island’s history.

“I was very honoured and so proud to sing our national anthem to the world. I sincerely thank the amazing Conor McGregor for asking me to be part of his special, unbelievable evening.

“He won our hearts last night. I thank all of you for your support as I was nervous as hell until I started singing and then felt all your good vibes with me.

“I felt my family with me. I especially thank the good wishes from Lee and all those at the festival. I will make it up to you. Imelda X.”

Angry fans had taken to Twitter to complain throughout the day and a handful had sought refunds for the festival.

One mum said her 10-year-old son had cried when he heard the singer wouldn’t be performing at the event.

However, May won huge applause from Ireland and the U.S for a haunting version of Amhran na bhFiann caused the 14,623 strong crowd at the arena to fall silent before the fight kicked off.

And for a moment the song helped thousands of Irish fans believe a McGregor win was possible.

May, dressed in a figure-hugging black dress, belted out the anthem and is likely to have struck a chord with not only new American fans but also U.S promoters.

The singer tweeted:  “What a night... well done Conor. You did us proud. Thanks for having me...I was honoured to be a part of it all…”

The McGregor team had to find a singer with only two days notice and attempts had been made to ask Bono to sing but the superstar was attending a wedding at the time.

Celebrities who turned out to watch the fight, included movie star Charlize Theron, who once dated Irish actor, Stuart Townsend, Jennifer Lopez, who attended with former New York Yankees baseball star, Alex Rodriguez, Hollywood A-Listers Chris Hemsworth, Jamie Foxx and Olivia Munn.

While movie big hitter, Leonardo Di Caprio, tried to mix with the crowd away from press attention, dressed in all black.

And Die Hard legend Bruce Willis had fun at the casino as well as pitching up for a ringside seat.


Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport