At the end of last month, Rory Gallagher, one of Donegal's best-known musicians, announced that he is packing up the bags after 12 years in Lanzarote, to return home to his native Kilcar. But as one chapter closes, another is set to open, and he is hoping to get more time to spend writing music. In his first newspaper interview since making the announcement, he spoke to the Donegal Post this week and outlined the reasons for the decision to return home. The interview is reproduced here below.
Rory's coming home from the island in the sun
It sounds pretty idyllic. Running a bar on one of the Canary Islands that boasts some 330 days of sunshine a year, performing on stage to holidaymakers - many of them from Donegal - and rekindling memories of times past with some of the biggest hits from the Revs, and, of course, the occasional thumping out of the legendary Donegal GAA anthem, Jimmy's Winning Matches.
Life has been good for musician (and businessman) Rory Gallagher on Lanzarote. But now changes are afoot.
Time is moving on. His wife Cara is expecting their second child in October. Son Aidan is now two and a half. Time has been spent thinking about education, the quality of life, the future.
Life on Lanzarote has considerable appeal. But there's a massive difference between spending a fortnight there in holiday mode, and actually living there.
Indeed, one day can seamlessly blend into another. It's a real sign that you are on holidays when you can forget about the time, or wake up and wonder just what day it is.
But can you imagine having to be playing to an audience six nights a week, year after year? It can become repetitive, it can become tiring. Indeed, it's a bit like Groundhog Day.
Of course, he enjoys music. But you can't be in that holiday mood all the time.
As he told me, "It seems like every second night is like St. Patrick's Day, or New Year's Eve."
Indeed, since they opened "The Island" - their hugely popular live music bar - in Puerto Del Carmen five years ago, he reckons he has performed 1,500 times.
And he was also playing in a variety of other bars before that.
"I've been doing about 300 gigs a year for 12 years," he estimates.
Now, that is a lot of time on stage.
Since Gallagher publicly announced his plans on social media, he has got countless messages of goodwill and support.
Reflecting on his 12 years in Lanzarote, he reckons it has been "an absolute thrill".
Indeed, things could hardly have worked out better,
When he arrived on the island he had barely €20 in his pocket.
Shortly afterwards he met Cara who was working in a bar called Brian Boru, and she got him a few gigs.
As they say, the rest is history.
He picked up a residency in Buddy's Bar and then went on to play in Charlie's - which was particularly popular with the Irish - and the Craic n Ceol.
Back in March 2013, the couple opened The Island Bar in the old town of Puerto Del Carmen, the main resort.
"What a five year marathon it's been," he noted.
Certainly the Jimmy's Winning Matches hit helped - and the bar became a hot-spot for Donegal holidaymakers.
But it was the catchy, upbeat, lively music and buzz about the bar that quickly enabled it to become one of the most popular on the island.
Pedro Ruiz and Albert Serrano, who are both from Barcelona, also performed on stage with him, as did his brother, Sean.
But performing six days a week is a tough number. There are challenges, like getting your work-life balance right, and having a health lifestyle.
Rory's final gig in The Island Bar will be on Sunday, September 30th. It promises to be quite a night, and it will be an emotional one as well.
The bar will continue as a live music venue as Seranno has bought the lease "for a considerable sum" - but naturally enough it will evolve differently.
But before settling back in Kilcar there will be a trip to a gig in Germany, and they will be bringing the staff with them for a final big night out!
Indeed, Germany could well be a port of call for quite a few more gigs in the years to come, but that's a story yet to be written.
Last August, The Revs, came back together after ten years to perform a one-off reunion gig in Dublin. It was a sell-out, by word of mouth.
Further offers have flowed. But Gallagher, and the other band members, John McIntyre and Michael O'Donnell, all have other commitments and interests.
Don't discount some further gigs, but Gallagher really wants to get back to actually writing music, and using his creativity.
He has had a number of hits, and he has build up a big following on social media.
Now, in the coming months, he is looking forwards to having a bit more time on his hands. Time to compose new songs.
And far from the razzmatazz of a holiday bar, he will surely get plenty of inspiration as he gazes out over the wonderful, quiet unspoilt landscape from Kilcar.
The end of Rory and the Island
Announcing his plans to relocate to Ireland, Rory Gallagher posted the following message on his face book page:
"I hope when people remember their holidays of the 2010s they think fondly of the fun they had in there and we tried to make it like a live music version of what Cream was in Ibiza in the 1990s, but the pace we set was never going to hold forever and we want to quit while we are ahead and before jagermeister has taken me completely! Thank you so much for all your support.. there will of course be more updates.. but as of September 30th 2018.. that is the end of Rory and The Island in Lanzarote.. onto pastures new!"
Four gigs in three days - in Donegal
Rory Gallagher will be back in Donegal in August when he will play four gigs in three days.
On Friday, August 3rd, he will have his first gig in Donegal in six years (the last one was in the glory days of the Jim McGuinness era) when he appears in the Warehouse, Letterkenny.
The following night he will be in John Joe's in Kilcar for a special reunion night for his first band, Bulb.
Rory recalls: "Bulb was my first band when I was 15 years old. We played lots of 90s classics, from Nirvana, Blur, Metallica, Oasis, and more. We could be rusty - we haven't played together in over 20 years!"
Then, on Sunday, August 5th, there's an evening gig in the Old Orchard Inn, Letterkenny, following by an appearance at the on the big Sunday night at the Mary from Dungloe Festival as it draws to a conclusion.
Rory Gallagher was speaking with Chris Ashmore.
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