In honour of O'Reilly

Danette Dooley
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Friends and fans get together to give an adopted son a lasting legacy

A bursary fund has been established to remember Dermot O'Reilly's tremendous contribution to this province and the Irishman's legacy in influencing artists of all ages.

A concert to kick start the fund, featuring some of the province's most gifted musicians, takes place Sept. 16 at the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre.

Dermot O'Reilly. - Telegram file photo

A bursary fund has been established to remember Dermot O'Reilly's tremendous contribution to this province and the Irishman's legacy in influencing artists of all ages.

A concert to kick start the fund, featuring some of the province's most gifted musicians, takes place Sept. 16 at the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre.

The bursary fund will be administered by Memorial University, with a scholarship awarded yearly to a student who is interested in music but not necessarily a dedicated music student.

"It could be an engineering student who likes to pick up the accordion," says well-known musician and fellow Ireland native Fergus O'Byrne.

"It's all about letting young people know there is worth put on their endeavours in terms of keeping music alive."

A founding member of Ryan's Fancy, O'Reilly died Feb. 17, 2007, at 64.

O'Reilly, along with O'Byrne and Denis Ryan, formed Ryan's Fancy in the early 1970s.

The trio performed across the country for over a decade and produced a dozen albums which are quickly becoming collectors' items for those with a passion for Celtic folk music.

When the trio split, O'Reilly and O'Byrne continued to perform together in local clubs.

O'Reilly also started his own production company, Piperstock Productions Ltd., which produced over two dozen albums and helped other local musicians get their start in the business.

O'Reilly's friend Conleth O'Maonaigh says the amount of money to be awarded to the student will depend on the amount raised through fundraisers such as the Sept. 16 show.

The kickoff concert will salute O'Reilly's tremendous influence in this province.

"It will reflect Dermot's music and the people influenced by Dermot and the music that influenced him," O'Maonaigh says.

The concert will also include songs O'Reilly recorded and made popular, including "West Country Lady," which will be performed by Middle Tickle's Ron Kelly.

According to O'Maonaigh, numerous solo musicians and bands have stepped up to the plate to offer their time and talent free of charge.

This means all of the money raised - with the exception of the rental space and incidentals - will go directly into the bursary fund, he says.

Hugh Scott is producing the concert, and Denis Ryan will MC.

"We've gotten great support from the local artists and this is all about acknowledging Dermot's contribution to artists of all ages," O'Maonaigh says.

In O'Reilly's books there was no such thing as being too young or too old to make music, he says, adding he witnessed O'Reilly's dedication to his music on many occasions.

"Dermot and I were great friends. He was a gentle soul with a great love and respect for Newfoundland culture and music," he says.

According to O'Maonaigh, his friend was as humble as he was talented.

"Dermot had no ego about sitting down with a guitar and pick with a nine-year-old and accompanying him. He never felt he was too good to play with anybody."

O'Reilly also supported other artists whenever the opportunity presented itself, O'Maonaigh says.

Tickets for the Dermot O'Reilly legacy concert are now on sale at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John's.

The concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40. For more information visit www.artsandculturecentre.ca.

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: Ryan's, Piperstock Productions

Geographic location: St. John's, Ireland, Newfoundland

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