Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Family moved by tributes to Bridie, Ireland’s first star

Huge crowds turned out to pay tribute to Bridie Gallagher, Ireland’s first international star, who passed away on Monday, January 9.



The 87 year old, who was surrounded by her family when she died at the Royal Victoria Hospital, had suffered declining health after a fall just before Christmas.

Requiem mass was held at St Brigid's Church on Derryvolgie Avenue in south Belfast yesterday (Wednesday) before burial in her native Creeslough, Co. Donegal.

Known as The Girl from Donegal, Bridie’s singing career took off just after she moved to south Belfast in 1949 with her first hit ‘A Mother’s Love's A Blessing’.

She gave her last performance in Letterkenny in 2000.

Her moving Irish ballads won her a huge international fanbase, particularly among the Irish diaspora in America and Australia.

To this day Bridie holds the record for the largest number of people in attendance at the Royal Albert Hall in London. She also gave sell-out performances in New York's Carnegie Hall and Sydney Opera House.

Her son, Jim Livingstone, said his mother suffered a fractured hip in the fall before Christmas and then contracted pneumonia.

A half-hour documentary — Bridie: The Girl From Donegal — presented by her granddaughter Teresa Livingstone, aired on December 18 on UTV.

“I am so pleased she was able to watch the documentary about her life before she passed,” Mr Livingstone told the Belfast Telegraph.

“She watched it four times and was absolutely thrilled with it. My mother was particularly proud of Teresa presenting it, and had actually commented to me that she was pleased it ran before she died.

“In terms of timing, it couldn't have been shown at a more perfect time or been a more fitting tribute.”

Fans are now calling for UTV to repeat the film that features previously unseen footage and examines her life touring overseas.

Jim said his family will remember Bridie in two ways. First as the loving matriarch to all of them, and as the immaculately dressed singing superstar to others.

“We've lost two people today," he said. “Bridie Livingstone, a great mother, grandmother, aunt, mother-in-law and more. She was such a warm person, great fun and lots of craic. Then there's Bridie Gallagher the emigrants' singer.

“My girls weren't born when Bridie was in her heyday and they didn't realise quite how famous she was until the documentary was put together. They have been bursting with pride since then."

Said Mr Livingstone: “She meant so much to Irish emigrants all over the world. She brought her kind of songs to those in America and Australia before anyone else did.”

“I have been touched by how fondly people remember her and how the music she made meant so much to people living away from home."

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