LARGE crowds flocked to Athy’s Emily Square on Saturday last 10 November as a plaque dedicated to Stone Roses and Primal Scream bassist Mani – also known as Gary Mounfield – was unveiled outside The Emigrant.
Before officially launching the plaque, the musician laid flowers on his mother’s grave in Maganey, accompanied by his wife and two sons.
They also visited the house his mother grew up in and met the current owner. The Doyle family once lived just a few doors down, including the mother of the Smiths’ Johnny Marr who was fêted in the town the week before.
“It feels like coming home. Not in a weird, bullshit, American plastic Paddy kind of sense… my family and Johnny Marr’s family lived five doors apart,” Mani told the Kildare Nationalist . “I’ve been to the graveyard, I’ve put flowers down for all my family and all that. It’s good to be here for a good reason, because I only ever come here to bury people now. So it’s good to come here and celebrate something. My mam, she’s watching somewhere, she’d be so super proud. It’s a homecoming of sorts – I feel good.”
The plaque is the fourth to be unveiled as part of the Made of Athy initiative, honouring musicians with links to the town. Judging by the age range of the crowd in Emily Square, Mani’s appeal very much spans generations.
“I always get a kick out of fans and the enthusiasm that they bring. It’s brilliant, lots of people got their record signed,” said Colm Walsh, the project’s curator.
A plaque dedicated to broadcaster and producer Bill Hughes will be unveiled by Panti Bliss on 23 November, with another due to be launched for Finnish singer Erin Koivisto by the current Finnish ambassador on 3 December. A plaque to the late Liam O’Flynn will also be unveiled in the town before Christmas.
Patricia Berry, event coordinator with Athy Town Promoters, spoke about her delight at seeing crowds descend on the town.
“It’s absolutely fantastic for the town,” she said. “There is just so much community spirit around Athy today, it’s absolutely fantastic.”