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comment For me, Summer in Dublin is the most uplifting triumph, a message that no matter how dark the hour, we'll never be alone


Bagatelle legend Liam Reilly brought so much joy through his lyrics

Bagatelle legend Liam Reilly brought so much joy through his lyrics

Bagatelle legend Liam Reilly brought so much joy through his lyrics

FROM the fertile, compassionate soil of his mind sprouted the gorgeous rose that is ‘Summer in Dublin’.

Liam Reilly’s priceless, eternal gift to the nation of his birth.

His master creation is the most beautiful, touching poem, lyrical and haunting, a skeleton key that unlocks any door behind which lurks a wounded human heart.

A gorgeous, profound snapshot of the city in which we came of age. Despite the name of the band with whom Reilly made the days better, this was no mere bagatelle.

We sang it in the summer of our happiness and in the winter of our broken relationships.

We hummed along in dank college bedsits, applied it as balm for lost adolescent love, treasured it as the calling card of our perfectly imperfect hometown.

It reached parts of you that few other alliances of word and music knew how to find. To this day, I cannot see a passing 46A without Reilly’s soaring Celtic aria kidnapping every atom of my soul.

From that unforgettable opening keyboard flourish to the hypnotic drumroll that precedes the familiar stirring chorus, here is a symphony that shuts out the rest of the world, and for a little under five minutes seizes the title deeds to the entirety of your being.

Somehow, he even made the hero’s stopping off to pick up a guitar seem hopelessly exotic.

Like all great art, it made such a bone-deep connection with its audience because it spoke truth, yet it was truth laced with the empathy and humanity that Reilly flourished like a sorcerer’s wand.

He ensured it was less an insult than a badge of honour that our city’s watery artery carried a toxic olfactory stench. Sing it loud and sing it proud: And the Liffey as it stank like hell.

Here is a Dublin anthem to compare with Raglan Road, yet like Kavanagh’s timeless treasure, one composed by an outsider.

Reilly was a son of Dundalk, a border bard whose ode to the big town 50 miles to the south flies like an immaculate musical standard over Dublin’s city walls.

The voice of Bagatelle crafted other soaring works of art: Leeson Street Lady, Second Violin and Is it Raining in Paris Tonight are at once, exquisite, tender, wistful and evocative.

But Summer in Dublin is the song he stitched into the fabric of Irish life, an emotive ballad that is tattooed to the marrow of those of us who ventured uncertainly out into the world in the 1980s.

From the opening stanza – Take me away from the city and leave me to where I can be on my own/I wanted to see you and now that I have I just want to be left alone – it surges through the listener.

I can taste Dublin – and my youth – in every chord.

For me, Summer in Dublin is the most uplifting triumph, a postcard from Reilly’s soul that soothes us with the message that no matter how dark the hour, we will never be alone.

Liam Reilly stopped breathing on Friday, but his flawless creation means he will never be gone from our world.

In this desperate winter of unprecedented anxiety, he offers us a vision of better days, the heartsoar of those imperishable memories of days when everyone and everything looked so well.

Sleep well, Liam, and as a final tribute to a poet who enriched so many lives: We’ll always remember your kind words, we’ll still remember your name.

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Online Editors