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Luke Kelly was an Irish singer and folk musician from Dublin, notable as a founding member of The Dubliners. He is considered by many to be Ireland’s greatest folk voice but he was much more than that. A simple comparison with the Beetles would see him filling the role played by John Lennon, he carried the political conscience of his urban generation. A committed socialist, raised in and around poverty, he was more in the tradition of Jim Larkin, Sean O Casey than James Joyce or John McCormack.

His songs were a celebration of the courage of the common people who pressed on, against a tide of privilege, he observed, was an unfair advantage held by those who had, over those who would never have.His voice had singular power, clarity, dignity, courage it announced that people had an advocate in him and that he would never betray them. He never did. He was taken from us too soon, at age 42 from a brain hemorrhage and we have not seen his like since, and boy could use him now.

On the 30 anniversary of his death it was written about Luke; “He was a disciple of big Jim Larkin, the Irish Labour leader whom Sean O Casey said would put a flower on the table as well as a loaf of bread,” he said. “In his lifetime, Luke brought music and song to that table.”


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