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Luke Kelly

Biographical
Luke Kelly - image 
  • Luke Kelly
    • Born: November 17, 1940
    • Died: January 30 1984
    • Dubliners' member: 1962-1964 & 1965-1984

Luke was born in Dublin on either the 16 November or 16 December 1940. The confusion arises because his mother says November and his birth certificate December. In the main Luke has always taken his mother's word for it, for he reasons that she was there at the time.

The family was a large close one. Luke's father, another Luke, worked for Jacobs the biscuit people and had a great love of soccer - a love he passed on to his son.

Luke was educated at St. Lawrence O'Toole's (the patron saint of Dublin) School in the North Strand area. He left school when he was thirteen and did a variety of jobs before coming, via the Isle of Man, to work in England.

His hobbies include golf and anything to do with the arts. He's a voracious reader and is rarely found without at least two books and as many newspapers about his person.

Luke is married to Deirdre O'Connell, the Irish-American method actress who owns and runs Dublin's Focus Theatre.

source: The Dubliners Scrapbook



Luke Kelly - 1939-1984
The Song of & Bird Alone.
Giusseppe Ungaretti, the great Italian poet who died a few years ago, lived for a while in Paris — there one of his friends was an exiled Arab. He wrote a little poem in his memory. It ends: E non sapeva sciogliere il canto del suo abbandono — he wasn't able to express the song of his loneliness. Luke Kelly lived much of his life among his own — and yet he too knew a kind of exile: it was the spiritual exile of one who wished for a better world. Luke was luckier than Ungaretti's friend: he found expression for his loneliness. For him singing was as essential as it was for the American blues' singers who found themselves 'lonely and afraid in a world they never made'. Luke brought home to you that singing had been man's primal mode of expression. When language was rudimentary, the musical notes expanded it: man sang before he spoke. And it is fair to say that Luke was a primitive, in the sense of the term as it is applied to such painters as Douanier Rousseau. The Douanier was a sophisticate, intimate with the history of art and acutely aware of contemporary movements — and yet he seemed to have come out of nowhere. Better than most, Luke Kelly knew what was happening in his own field — and indeed in the fields around it — but he was his own man. Ewan MacColl may have inspired him — but only to go his own way. It may seem paradoxical that such a 'bird alone' should gain fame with a group — but The Dubliners were less a group than a meitheal. In the old peasant pattern the meitheal came together to do a job — and that was it. The Dubliners were all individualists — Luke and Ronnie and Ciaran and John and Barney were leaves from different trees blown together by the wind that changed the world of music a generation ago. What they had most in common was artistic honesty. Luke's ambition was to express 'the song of his loneliness1. He succeeded as much as a mortal can -and in doing so he became an immortal.

CON HOULIHAN 1984