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Tributes pour in for Bagatelle singer Liam Reilly after sudden death at age 65


Liam Reilly from Bagatelle.

Liam Reilly from Bagatelle.

Liam Reilly from Bagatelle.

TRIBUTES have been flowing in to the shock announcement of the death of legendary Bagatelle singer Liam Reilly at the age of 65 at his home in Co Louth.

The singer is best known for the band’s classic Summer in Dublin hit.

The Dundalk-born musician also penned the Wolfe Tones’ 1981 hit Streets of New York.

In 1990 as a solo singer, Reilly came joint second in the Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland in Zagreb with his tune Somewhere In Europe.

Other hits he was responsible for with Bagatelle, which was first formed in Bray, Co Wicklow in 1978, included Second Violin, Leeson Street Lady and Flight Of The Earls.

Bagatelle’s admirers back then included U2, with Bono commenting on the impact they had on his band and Larry Mullen jokingly referring to them as ‘Bag-a-Money’ in reference to their fame.

Summer in Dublin, which was once voted the third best Irish song of all time, was first released in May 1980, and was the first of the band’s six No 1 and countless top 10 hits.

Reilly said the words came to him easily as he described just one day in the capital.

“At the time I was living in an apartment on Leeson Street in Dublin and I did have to pick up my guitar as the song says,” he once recalled.

“The bus to Dun Laoghaire comes into the song due to the fact I had to travel there to work.

“The line that goes, ‘I was singing a song I heard somewhere called Rock ‘N’ Roll Never Forgets’, is also part of something I experienced.

“It came after I went to see a Boomtown Rats gig and they did a cover version of a Bob Seger song and it had stuck in my mind as a great line.”

Reilly said the day he wrote the song the lyrics just “poured” out on to a page.

He added it was a hot summer day and the smells stayed with him when he put pen to paper.

Broadcaster Aonghus McAnally today paid tribute.

“I’m so sorry to hear the awful news,” he said. “A brilliant songwriter and a wonderful legacy of their musical memories. Sleep well Liam.”

Eurovision winner Charlie McGettigan remarked: "Sad news indeed.”

You’re A Star singer Simon Casey said: “Rest in peace Liam Reilly, songwriter of many of our favourite Irish ballads. I’ve fond memories of belting out Summer in Dublin and The Streets of New York with Liam on a few occasions. A very sad day for the Irish music scene.”

A band spokesperson confirmed the news and said Liam “passed away suddenly but peacefully at his home on January 1st.”

A family statement noted: “We know that his many friends and countless fans the world over will share in our grief as we mourn his loss, but celebrate the extraordinary talent of the man whose songs meant so much to so many.”

Liam would have turned 66 on January 29.

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Online Editors