Late Cathal Murray - An Appreciation

On New Year’s Day in Letterkenny General Hospital, one of Donegal’s most accomplished and best known musicians Cathal Murray, Acres, Burtonport passed away.

On New Year’s Day in Letterkenny General Hospital, one of Donegal’s most accomplished and best known musicians Cathal Murray, Acres, Burtonport passed away.

Aged 75 years, he was only two weeks in hospital. Although born on Arranmore Island, Cathal spent most of his life in Burtonport, where his family moved permanently. He was a member of a well known and highly respected Rosses family. He spent nearly all his working life as a bus driver with Lough Swilly Bus & Railway Co. He gave outstanding and loyal service to this company and acted as spokesman for them on many occasions. This work took him to most parts of Donegal. Along with other members of his family, Cathal was one of the founder members of the La Scala Dance Band in the fifties.

They travelled to many dance halls and were a major attraction. At one stage the band featured four brothers, Padraig, James, Leo & Cathal and their sister Margaret. In later years they were joined by their younger sister Kathleen. In the seventies, La Scala formed a group consisting of Cathal, Margaret, their niece Mary Boyle & Patsy Bonner with their road manager Owenie Wallace and they spent nearly twenty years entertaining dancers every weekend in Ostan na Rosann.

During the summer, locals were joined by holiday makers who came here on an annual basis. Cathal could be described as a musical legend and on the saxophone and clarinet he had few equals on the country. He was very proud and appreciative of the special tribute night to the members of the La Scala band which attracted a capacity attendance to the Community Centre at Easter 2009, organised by the Burtonport Festival committee.

Thankfully his music continues on Highland Radio from the familie’s outstanding CDs. He took a deep interest in politics and was a lifelong member of the Fine Gael Party, while attending party meetings he was never afraid of expressing his views. Above all Cathal was an outstanding family man and was a most caring husband, father, brother, grandfather, uncle and relative. His funeral, which was large and representative in spite of the atrocious weather conditions, took place to Belcruit Cemetery following mass in St Columbas Church, Acres celebrated by Rev Fr Pat Ward PP, assisted by Rev Fr Matt McInerny, Rev Fr JJ Duffy and Rev Fr Philip Daly CC, Killclooney.

Readers at the mass were David O’Sullivan (grandson) and the prayers of the faithful were read by Dillon Murray, Neil Gallagher and Patrick McCready. Music at the mass was by Peter and Mary Rodgers with a solo “Roisin Dubh” played on the fife by Denis E Boner. When Cathal’s remains were taken from the chapel one of his favourite hymns “Amazing Grace” was played from his C.D, which was highly evocative, but most appropriate for the occasion.

He is survived by his wife Agnes, daughters Nora, Dublin, Teresa, Letterkenny, Kathleen, Kilclooney, Agnes(Jnr), Acres, Maura, Clar, Donegal Town and Anne, Trentagh, sisters Mary Boyle, and Ms Margaret Murray, Burtonport and Ms Kathleen Ferry, Dublin, grandchildren, in-laws, nephews, nieces and a large number of relatives to whom deepest sympathy is extended.

Slan leat a Chathal ar gCara dhilis ceolmhar. Is cinnte nach mbeidh do leitheid ann aris.

Ar dheis de go raibh tu.