Swan song Joe Dolan's brother is happy legacy is being kept alive by solar-powered grave jukebox
“It’s amazing the connection my brother Joe made in life with people across the board through his music, and he’s still part of their families and their lives long after he’s gone"
Showband legend Ben Dolan says he’s delighted to hear that his brother Joe’s music is bringing comfort to bereaved people at home and abroad.
Musician and singer Ben, who is still performing with The Dolan Family band at the age of 86, was reacting to media reports that Joe is one of the artists being played on a solar-powered jukebox which forms part of the headstone at the grave of ‘King of Sheffield’ bare-knuckle boxer Big Willy Collins.
One of 16 children, Willy died at the age of 49 in July 2020 after collapsing on holiday in Mallorca, leaving his family devastated.
Boxers such as Tyson Fury, Kell Brook and Billy Joe Saunders sent messages of support to Willy’s family at the time of his sudden passing.
This week it was revealed that Willy’s family, who include his nine children, have now erected a massive 37-tonne headstone “the largest in Britain” over his grave in Shiregreen Cemetery in Sheffield at a reported cost of €200,000.
The huge marble memorial features two life-sized statues of Big Willy’s six-foot frame, had LED lights that change colour, and is under 24-hour CCTV monitoring, which his family have access to in order to see and ‘speak’ to him.
It also has depictions of Jesus Christ, biblical scenes and is surrounded by Irish flags.
There is a solar-powered jukebox playing Willy’s favourite music and artists, including the late Irish singing legend Joe Dolan.
People visiting the grave can also connect to the jukebox through Bluetooth and play their own songs in memory of Willy.
Speaking to sundayworld.com, Ben Dolan said he had never heard of Big Willy Collins until he read the story of his demise and his family’s tribute to the boxer in last weekend’s Sunday World newspaper, but was delighted that his music is “bringing back happy memories for them and giving them some comfort after their sad loss.”
He said: “It’s amazing the connection my brother Joe made in life with people across the board through his music, and he’s still part of their families and their lives long after he’s gone.
“I hear stories all the time about Joe’s song, Goodbye Venice Goodbye, being played at funerals as the coffin is leaving the church. It was also played at the cathedral in Mullingar as Joe’s own coffin was carried from the church back in 2007.
“For us, it’s lovely to see Joe living on through his music, to hear how much he meant to people, to learn how they are still playing his music in memory of their loved ones."
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