Christy Moore and the Grehan Sisters of Boyle are playing a Tribute Concert to the late great singer John Reilly in St. Joseph’s Hall in Boyle on Thursday June 26 from 7pm.
Christy Moore and the Grehan Sisters know each other over 51 years. Christy came to the Fleadh in Boyle in 1963, where they roamed into Grehan’s Pub. Mrs Bridie Grehan, the woman of the house called for order, she requested a song from John Reilly, he sang Lord Baker and Christy Moore listened with great excitement, he had found a true singer with a library of old songs. From that day, Christy became firm friends with John Reilly.
John (Jacko) Reilly was born into a Travelling family in Carrick-on-Shannon in 1926. Both John’s parents were singers this is where John got most of his old songs from. John’s family travelled the roads of Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo, along the way John became a skilled tinsmith selling buckets, billycans and other tinned vessels. During the World War II, John moved with his family to Belfast, it was easier to get tin in the North.
In 1962, John moved to Boyle in 1962. John’s mother and father died when he was young; he raised his siblings as best he could.
John was a shy man, but behind that shyness was a magnificent traditional singer, who would share his talents with anybody that cared to listen. John was well respected by the people in Boyle, he was fed in many the house, but Mrs Grehan was the main woman who kept a close eye on John’s welfare.
In 1969, Tom Munnelly of UCD and Professor DK Wilgus of the University of California, recorded John singing 36 old songs. John had a heavy cold and it was decided to record more songs from John another time. A while later Munnelly returned to Boyle and found John with pneumonia, he took him to hospital, a few days later John was discharged. A week later, John collapsed and died shortly after. John was only 44 years old when he died. Tom Munnelly stated in his writings that John ‘Jacko’ Reilly was the best traditional singer he ever recorded.
This Tribute Concert for John is to raise funds to erect a memorial plaque on the wall of Grehan’s old Pub (now, Bruno’s Bar) where John did most of his singing. Tickets on sale at McDonagh’s Mace Shop, Boyle – 071-9662002, Mulvey’s Gift Shop, Carrick-on-Shannon - 071-9620134, Casey’s Centra Shop, Roscommon, - 090-6625468.