Belfast Telegraph

Folk legends The Fureys bring music to superfan Mary after missing gig

By Stephanie Bell

Irish music stars The Fureys gave a hard-working fan the surprise of her life - staging an impromptu serenade for her after she missed out on their concert.

Mary McAuley (69) has marked 50 years working in the well-known Co Antrim coastal hotel the Londonderry Arms.

She was thrilled to be given tickets to see her heroes The Fureys in nearby Glenarm Castle when they were performing as part of the Dalriada Festival.

However Mary, who is restaurant manager at the hotel once owned by Sir Winston Churchill, wouldn't leave her colleagues on what turned out to be a very busy night and was gutted to miss out on her chance to see her favourite band.

Mary, who started work in the hotel in 1967, explained: "The concert promoter was staying in the hotel.

"When he heard I loved the Fureys, he gave me free tickets to their concert.

"It was a busy time because of the festival and usually we finish around 9pm when I was hoping to get away but that night we didn't finish until 11pm.

"I would love to have heard them in concert but I wouldn't leave the rest of the staff."

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Mary McAuley outside the Londonderry Arms hotel

Mary was stunned when the band turned up at the hotel and, on learning what happened, did an impromptu rendition for her.

She added: "The promoter came in and told me they were outside and wanted to sing just for me out in front of the hotel on the street.

"I was really embarrassed as a crowd gathered and I don't like any fuss, but it was lovely of them to do it."

Widowed Mary, who has one son, three daughters and nine grandchildren, has looked after many well-known faces including Gloria Hunniford, the late actor John Thaw who played Inspector Morse and Barbara Windsor. Due to turn 70 next year she is hoping to retire, but isn't exactly sure when.

She added: "Every week I say I am going to stop and put my feet up. My old bones can't do it anymore. Maybe at the end of this summer."

Belfast Telegraph

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