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tribute Grandmother's pain at not being able to attend her husband's funeral inspires Covid song

'The title track was the very last song for the album I wrote it as my grandfather passed away'

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Singer Darragh O'Dea  Grandparents Tilly (87) and Neil (93) O'Dea

Singer Darragh O'Dea Grandparents Tilly (87) and Neil (93) O'Dea

Singer song-writer Darragh O'Dea

Singer song-writer Darragh O'Dea

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Singer Darragh O'Dea Grandparents Tilly (87) and Neil (93) O'Dea

A haunting song about a grandmother who could not go to her husband's funeral during the pandemic and then died from Covid is getting rave reviews in Ireland and the UK.

Margaret 'Tilly' O'Dea was one of over a dozen residents of the Greenpark nursing home in Tuam, Co Galway, who died due to the virus after it struck at the home just a week before a vaccine became available for those staying there.

Nearly all of the 49 residents of what is know locally as 'Cora's nursing home' contracted the disease early last year.

'Tilly and the Postmaster' by Tuam singer-songwriter Darragh O'Dea is a tribute to his late grandmother and her husband Neil and is also a harrowing reflection on the pain caused by Covid especially to elderly couples.

Both hailed from Co Tipperary and moved to Co Galway in 1974 when Neil got a job as postmaster in Tuam.

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Singer song-writer Darragh O'Dea

Singer song-writer Darragh O'Dea

Singer song-writer Darragh O'Dea

He was a prominent Gaelic footballer with Templemore, Thurles Crokes, the Tipperary county team and Munster Railway Cup sides.

The couple had 14 children, one who sadly passed away less than 48 hours after being born (a twin brother of ­Darragh's father), and had 32 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Darragh (36), who was a member of Tuam band Strange Boat, was writing his debut solo album when the Covid crisis struck.

"The title track was the very last song for the album I wrote it as my grandfather passed away. It was during Covid and my grandmother was in a nursing home and she couldn't go to the funeral because of it," he explains.

"She didn't really have a voice as she had a stroke so I wrote it through her eyes to give her a voice and it starts off about a Covid funeral but then it goes on to talk about their whole life story."

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Neil passed away in May 2020.

"My granddad passed away primarily from old age but at the very end there was some cancer there, which was late detected," he said.

He is delighted with reaction to the album that begins and ends with his grandfather speaking.

He said: "It seems to have been picked up a lot more in the UK, especially folk radio stations. I got a gig at the Moseley folk festival just outside Birmingham last summer, so something is stirring over there."

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