Rory Gallagher Festival chairperson Barry O'Neill with President Higgins
The Special Silver Commemorative Coin in honour of legendary guitarist Rory Gallagher released this week by the Central Bank of Ireland was launched at a Special Ceremony by President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin.
The sterling silver coin depicts Gallagher playing the guitar against a backdrop of a vinyl record over an image of a map of the world.
The first coin was presented to President Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin by the governor of the Central Bank Philip Lane in the presence of Rory Gallagher’s brother Dónal Gallagher who was flanked by his wife Cecilia, sons Eoin and Hugh and daughter Kate.
Among the invited guests attending the launch were Peter Aiken (Aiken Promotions), Dave Fanning (RTÉ Broadcaster), Julian Vignoles (Author and Broadcaster), Niall Stokes (Hot Press Magazine) and representing the Rory Gallagher Festival in Ballyshannon was Barry O’Neill.
In his address, President Higgins said “Rory Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon in County Donegal, although I know that Cork people often try to claim him because his family moved down.
“Indeed, you can find a statue of Rory in Ballyshannon.
“In our time, I would ask what better symbol could we find for our creative, artistic, freedom-loving country than an image of one of our most iconic musicians, Rory Gallagher?
“I am so pleased that the Central Bank, assisted by the Numismatic Advisory Committee and spurred on by members of the public, decided to honour and commemorate Rory in this way.”
The Governor of the Central Bank Philip Lane also gave a special mention to Ballyshannon, Mr. Lane said “the success of Ballyshannon’s International Rory Gallagher festival showed how cultural value can translate into economic value”.
He also spoke of Gallagher’s enduring appeal, “It is European and global – the ongoing impact of Rory Gallagher. Around the world it has such a big impact, which is wonderful”.
The coin is one of three representing Irish musicians which will be issued. The ‘Modern Irish Musicians’ series will include silver coins commemorating Phil Lynott in 2019 and Luke Kelly in 2020.
Very special occasion for fans
Rory Gallagher Festival Chairperson Barry O’Neill speaking after the event said it was a very special occasion for Rory Gallagher, his family and his fans.
“It is particularly pleasing from the viewpoint that the coin is being released now to coincide with Rory’s 70th birth year and that goes all the way back to 2nd March, 1948 at the Rock Hospital in Ballyshannon,” he said.
“I was very proud to represent the Festival and Ballyshannon today and the comments relating to the town, the Rory Gallagher International Festival and its impact was very pleasing, very proud and a significant day when the President of Ireland and the Governor of the Central Bank are recognising the legacy of hard work achieved in honouring Rory in Ballyshannon.”