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Dublin: 4 °C Friday 13 December, 2019
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Double Take: Spot the Rory Gallagher tribute outside this Donegal nursing home

Rock Hospital by name… and by nature.

5606379_399eab8614_o Source: Jean-Luc Ourlin/Flickr

LEGENDARY BLUES GUITARIST Rory Gallagher may have passed away over twenty years ago, but his fellow Donegal natives haven’t forgotten him.

Gallagher was born in the town of Ballyshannon, a folk and traditional music stronghold, in 1948.

He’s most often associated with Cork, where he moved to when still quite young. While Cork have plenty of their own tributes to the musician, Ballyshannon lays a significant claim to his success and musical interest too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Source: Kenneth Allen/Creative Commons

Pass through the car park of the town’s (accurately named) Rock Hospital, and you’ll spot a plaque sitting on a flowerbed, naming the hospital – now an elderly care home – as Gallagher’s birthplace.

The plaque once had a fountain all of its own, but while the water feature is gone, the memorial to Rory remains.

The fountain at Ballyshannon's Rock Hospital, featuring Gallagher's birthplace plaque. Gallagher's birthplace, as pictured back in 2011. Source: Kenneth Allen/Creative Commons

Ballyshannon is home to a number of other memorials to the singer, who died after a liver transplant aged just 47. Particularly poignant is the plaque on the since-renamed Rory Gallagher Place.

It features an engraving, and lyrics from his hit song, Goin’ To My Hometown:

I’m getting lonesome, I’m getting blue

Let me tell you where I’m going to

Yes I’m going to my home town,

I don’t care ever even if I have to walk.

Locals in Ballyshannon are well-used to Gallagher fans coming to the town as a kind of pilgrimage, especially given that the town is on the Wild Atlantic Way – a bit of fantastic scenery never hurt anywhere’s chances of becoming a tourism hotspot.

Fans of the rockstar flock to Ballyshannon for the Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival, which was established in 2002 and takes place during the June Bank Holiday every year.

Time to dust off the denim and plaid for a road trip to Donegal this summer, we think.

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