Posted here to mark the sad pasing away, a few weeks ago, after a lengthy illness, of Gerry Lavery of Richhill, County Armagh.
Amongst Gerry’s many interests were singing, song-collecting, folklore, local history and songwriting and his CD, “A Walk Through O’Hanlon’s Country”, is a compelling amalgam of all of these. Gerry was very proud to be able to trace his roots back to the raparee, Count Redmond O’Hanlon, a legendary figure in the history of County Armagh where Gerry and I hailed from.
I was first introduced to Gerry by my sister and had the pleasure of his company and his music on many (but too few) occasions over the past few years in Lurgan, Keady and Ballinary, amongst other places. Gerry was a warm and engaging character and took great delight in the simple pleasures of the session. A few tunes, a few songs, a pint or two and a bit of a gaunch … these were meat and drink to him.
He was also extremely generous with his time and his support. There are several people of my acquaintance who found themselves in a tight spot and Gerry came to their assistance with open arms and helped them through. They will sorely miss him …
We occasionally read the sad news of the demise of one of the “stars” of Irish music here. However, we all know that the music is kept alive not by the stellar players and chanters but by the hundreds, thousands of unsung players and singers who immerse themselves in the tradition and who, ultimately, give back so much to their peers and to succeeding generations of musicians. Gerry was one such unsung hero; in his own small way he enriched the music for those of us who had the good fortune to share it with him and no doubt we’ll pass on some of “his” music to others in our circles and so on and so on. Hence the reason that I’m posting the news of his demise here; in our small community we can appreciate the loss of a bearer of the flame, even if our paths haven’t crossed.
I know, in future, that there will be occasions when I’ll hear a tune or a song and it will spark off a memory of the big man and while the memory will be tinged with sadness, there will nevertheless be a sense of pleasure that I spent time in his company, enjoyed the crack and came away with a song or two … Hence the man might have died, but his influence lives on and will continue to make its impact.
Here’s to Gerry Lavery! He cast a long shadow…
Music provided - in the main - by Adrian McParland and Paul McKernan.