Journey to Rory´s grave

For Sonja and Heinz from Austria a dream has become reality: Last summer (2003) they travelled to Ireland to visit Rory's grave. Read the following report of their journey, which also gives you some hints and information.
A travelogue with pictures.

Translated by Sonja Bernard

Journey to Rory´s Grave

When for the first time I had heard Rory Gallagher’s music in the radio, I ran to the next music store immediately afterwards to buy the LP “Live in Europe”. Nothing much happened for a while. I found a friend, who shared my passion for Rory Gallagher’s music. Sometimes we rang each other in the middle of the night to talk about him. And one night we decided to visit his grave.

The journey had to be cheap, and so we searched the net for cheap flights. Ryanair had the lowest prices. We went by car to Salzburg, took the plane to Stansted, where we had to wait for several hours, and arrived one morning in late summer rather tired at Cork. From the airport there are buses to the city center about every half an hour. When we arrived we had time to eat and drink something, our last meal had been long, long time ago (by the way, do you know the joke about the two blues musicians who meet each other, and one asks: “Did you have something to eat?”, the other answers: “Yes, quite a few times.”) From the Central Bus Station (get timetables there for any buses you might need during your stay) we walked by foot to the Western Road (people with more luggage take bus number 8), because we knew that there would be a lot of Bed and Breakfasts. And it is the road to Ballincollig, where the St. Oliver’s Cemetery with Rory Gallaghers grave is situated. For people who are interested in culture: In the Western Road there is also the Cork Public Museum.

But we didn’t go there, as the saying goes “Fools go to the museum in a foreign country, wise go to the pub!” (People with a slightly different taste in culture could visit the old City Gaol of cork, by the way.)

We brought our luggage to our room and were off again. Oh, it is not easy to simply walk somewhere in Ireland! There are traffic lights, but nobody cares about them. Yes, at normal day times most car drivers sort of respect them, but the pedestrians just walk when it is possible or when they think it is possible. For us so called disciplined middle-europeans this seems utterly dangerous. And I dare say the Cork area seems harmless compared to Dublin where they have the saying “There are only two sorts of pedestrians – dead ones and quick ones.” But after a few days you get used to the Irish way of street crossing.
St. Patrick's Hill
We found it nice, that nobody in the cars had their loudspeakers hammering like some Austrians or Germans, whom you hear when they are still several streets away, and nobody used the horn.
We took the bus to Ballincollig (try to have the exact amount prepared) – in our pocket a description from the net, which was supposed to help us find St. Oliver’s Cemetery. Unfortunately, Cork is one big place of construction work at the moment, so we could not find the way and had to ask some people. That’s what you should do: Leave the bus at the roundabout in Ballincollig and ask for the cemetery, because nobody can foretell which road will be broken up next and where you can walk or not..
The graveyard itself is very different from Austrian or German ones. There are plain gravestones in the lawn with not much more than the names on them, no crying angels, not much decoration, just a flower pot here and there. Somehow we had expected Rory’s monument to be enormous – even though we had seen it on photos. And now we stood here and were wondering, why we couldn’t see the grave from far. Slowly we walked along the graves and there it was – the monument is not bigger than the others, this made us think.
Rory´s Grave

What had we expected? Rory Gallagher was different from others, but he did not want to be “bigger” than others. And so is the monument – different but not higher or bigger. On this bright sunny day we were alone on the graveyard, but we saw a lot of gifts from fans. My friend visited the grave a second time alone, and he told me that within two days some things had come new or had been changed.
From the cemetery we went to the city center and payed a visit to Crowley’s Musicstore in the McCurtain Street where Rory once had bought his legendary Stratocaster. In the shop we got the impression that there might not much have been changed since Rory’s days. If you are in Cork, go there. There are a lot of used guitars for moderate prices. When the hunger became too big, we went to Gallagher’s Bar at the corner St. Patrick’s and McCurtain Street, and we had some good Lasagne. And of course there are pictures of Rory Gallagher at the wall. Then we were tired. We had planned to hear live music and… and… and… but we had been up for 30 hours and decided to postpone the nightlife to one of the next evenings.