Thursday, November 08, 2018

FORMER Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr is the latest figure to be honoured by the Made of Athy initiative, which is highlighting local, national and international musicians with a connection to the town.

The plaque was unveiled by the singer-songwriter in Emily Square on Friday 2 November, recognising his contribution to music and his roots in the town. Both of his parents are from Athy and moved to Manchester at a young age in search of a new life.

“His family on both sides came out, the Marrs and the Doyles,” said Colm Walsh, the project’s curator.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl with Cllr Aoife Breslin, Colm Walsh, founder of the Made of Athy project with members of the O’Neill family at the unveililng of the plaque honouring Joe O’Neill at the offices of Athy Municipal District

Speaking to RTÉ, Mr Marr said that Athy has always been important to him and noted that he had the chance to catch up with cousins and other relatives.

“It’s kind of almost overwhelming seeing these faces that have turned out, and some of them look like me as well which is kind of amazing,” he said.

A total of 23 plaques will be put on display as part of the project, with seven to be revealed before Christmas.

Plaques have already been unveiled at the ARCH – previously the Dreamland Ballroom – by Johnny Cash’s grandson Thomas Gabriel, and for the late Joe O’Neill at the Athy Municipal District Office, which was attended by Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

“He (O’Neill) was a band leader, had his own orchestra in the 1950s and toured throughout Britain. George Robinson and Tony Cardiff were in that band,” said Mr Walsh. “His son Kevin played Stardust, which was not only the name of his orchestra, it was also his favourite song.”

Next in line for the honour is Mani, formerly of the Stone Roses and Primal Scream, who will officially unveil his plaque this Saturday 10 November at 3pm in Emily Square.

“Johnny’s mother and Mani’s mother grew up five doors from each other,” Mr Walsh explained, adding that the organisers are seeking suggestions from the public to avoid overlooking any musical individuals with a connection to Athy.

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By Conor Forrest
Contact Newsdesk: 045 432147

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