Belfast Telegraph

Rory Gallagher fans bid for life-size statue of guitarist at Ulster Hall

By Cate McCurry

A life-size statue of legendary guitarist Rory Gallagher could be placed outside Belfast's Ulster Hall in recognition of the venue's unique role in catapulting him to worldwide fame.

Fans of the musical hero from an east Belfast group, the Wilgar Community Forum, hope to attract around £50,000 in government funding to help build the statue.

Belfast is widely recognised as the starting point of the musician's illustrious career and the group has set out to commemorate the singer's lasting legacy within the city.

The organisation also wants to develop a smart phone app which it says will tell the story of Donegal-born Rory and his connections to Belfast.

Barry McGivern, who is a member of the cross-community group, said it held a 'positive' meeting with the Department of Culture minister Carál Ní Chuilín about possible funding for the project.

He said: "Everyone knows the whole legacy of Rory and how he brought the east and west of the city together in the 1970s and saved a generation of people through music.

"When he came to Belfast that was where he spread his wings. He got his two albums going and Belfast was the point where he took off.

"He always kept coming back to us. He's the artist who has performed at the Ulster Hall more times than anyone else.

"There could be real potential for more visitors coming to the city to see this because of his connections in the 1970s."

The group hopes to secure £50,000 in funding and estimates it will cost another £30,000 to complete the project, which will take another year to finish.

Barry added that plans have been proposed to create a mini- museum along the walls of the famous Bedford Street music hall to celebrate the singer's legacy.

The group has been working on the project for two years and says that the Ulster Hall is also keen to see the statue outside.

"We have a string of potential private investors who are also on board with us," he added.

"We want to acknowledge Rory's legacy and also to get a visible, tangible statue. While he was born in Ballyshannon and moved to Cork, his story really is in Belfast.

"We envisage the statue as a life-like representation of Rory. He was like an animal on stage, but off stage he was really quiet. This statue captures this. That's how we see it. People come from all over the world to find out about him.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Barry said. "And Rory's stock has never been higher with all his albums being re-released.

"When people like Slash and Brian May are all still saying Rory Gallagher was so influential, there's a legacy there that will continue.

"For us now, we think it's the right time for the statue and it will draw in people from across the world."

To raise money for the Rory Gallagher Statue Fund Appeal, the group is hosting a gig at the Empire Music Hall on Botanic Avenue on Monday, March 16.

Profile

Rory Gallagher was one of the greatest blues-rock talents in modern music history and has been widely recognised for his gifts as a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. Born in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, the musician was famous for his charismatic performances on-stage. He received a liver transplant in 1995, but died later from complications at the age of 47.

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