Middleweight boxer Jason Quigley has teamed up with Rory Gallagher to record a song for his professional debut in Las Vegas next month.
Quigley, who was signed up by top stable Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions in May, will enter the ring at the 17,000-capacity MGM Grand on Saturday, July 12, with the tune recently recorded by the Kilcar singer/songwriter called ‘Make Way for the Fighting Irish’ ringing in his ears.
Ballybofey native Quigley was last year’s Irish and European amateur champion as well as becoming the first Irishman to ever to reach a final and win a silver medal at the AIBA World Amateur Boxing Championships.
The 23-year-old was holidaying in Lanzarote with his girlfriend April McManus last November and first met up with ‘Jimmy’s Winning Matches’ creator Gallagher at The Island Bar, the live music venue he owns.
“We were sitting in the bar chatting at the end of the night and got on really well, which I suppose is a bit unusual considering he’s an athlete and I’m a musician!,” Gallagher said from Lanzarote.
“Jason’s a really good fella and I just told him if he was bored sitting around the pool to text me, so he did and we drove around the island and I showed him and April the sights of Lanzarote.
“He kinda joked that if he ever got a big fight in America then I would have to do the music and so, when he was signed up by Oscar de La Hoya, I had to keep the promise.”
Gallagher admits the song was one that he recalled from his time in the Kilcar Pipe Band.
“I sent Jason an idea and he told me it was too laid back, he wanted something more similar to my ‘Mad Dog Coll’ song, something to get the adrenalin pumping. So I sent a second idea called ‘Make Way for the Fighting Irish,’ which he instantly approved of,” Gallagher added.
“Jason actually sent me a long e-mail describing his principles and beliefs about boxing and life so I took a few of these views and used them in the lyrics. I used a trad tune as the instrumental part taken from an old Irish tune, which in the 1930s was added to the lyric ‘Wrap the Green Flag Around Me,’ a tune I used to play in the Kilcar pipe band as a young teenager.
“I play it at twice the speed with a kind of Pogues back-beat and it does get the hairs on the back of the neck standing, especially if it gets played in the MGM Grand and you are holding a tricolour!”
Gallagher wrote and recorded the song, with the assistance of his father Paul in Ardara, who helped with backing vocals. Friends also contributed, like Colly Farrell, a vocalist from Dublin, and Meath native Kane O’Rourke, who plays the mandolin, banjo, fiddles, whistles and pipes.
The recording has been credited to the ‘Go Jason Quigley’ campaign.
Make Way for the Fighting Irish’ will be available on iTunes this week costing 99 cent with all monies raised being split evenly between Animal Heaven Animal Rescue, Forgotten Horses Ireland and the Donegal Hospice.
“That was something I decided by pure fluke,” Gallagher added. “I was on facebook chat with Jason and another window popped open, with a friend of mine, Esther O’Kane, asking could I help sharing information about their fundraiser. We decided to one better and to split all the money raised from the sale of the song to their charities.”
Esther O’Kane, originally from Cavanacor, Lifford, but now living Tullynaha, Donegal Town, on her six-year-old piebald gelding, Oreo Cookie, and Amy McGarvey from Meenmore, Dungloe, on Holly travelled through nine counties over the course of seven days on horseback for charity earlier this month and stopped in almost every town on the way on their way from Mizen to Malin. A charity sky-dive is also planned in July to reach the €10,000 target by the end of the campaign.
Gallagher, who had been part of the Revs who had to Top Five albums in Ireland before the band was disbanded in 2004, is best known for his ‘Jimmy’s Winning Matches,’ which provided the musical backdrop to Donegal’s All-Ireland win in 2012.
The song, which has over a million combined YouTube hits and iTunes downloads, still forms part of his nightly set alongside ‘Jimmy’ from Senegal at the Island Bar in Lanzarote.
“It’s still mad,” Gallagher said. “I was, for a while, getting annoyed with having to sing it six nights a week but it reminds me of a special moment in time. It gave my career a lift and it was only later I realised how popular it was, particularly with children. So it’s mad to think that when they grow up, in 30 years it might still be sung at 3am in bars as far off as Sydney!”
Since then, Gallagher has had seven songs chart in the iTunes Top 50 including ‘Mad Dog Coll’, ‘Colours’, ‘Champagne Lifestyle” and as recently as last week a track called ‘Belfast’.
‘Quigley, who has yet to learn his opponent on Saturday week, is currently in training in California ahead of his Las Vegas date.
“It is brilliant for me to hear something so powerful and completely Irish as I train here so far away from home in LA in the USA,” he said. “It makes me really proud and hyped up for this big debut on the 12th, Hup Donegal! Go on the Paddys!”