I went to visit an old friend yesterday.
It’s a shame how that statue has been treated. Yeh, it’s not to everyone’s taste. But it’s Luke, unmistakably Luke.
And it deserves respect for the man he was.
I had several encounters with Luke, all of them fun.
The one I remember most was at the Johnny Ross gigs in Holland many years ago.
I remember sitting on the plane as it took off and looking at my fellow passengers on the way to the event.
The Dubliners. The Fureys. Stockton’s Wing. Jim McCann. Drops of Brandy.
I thought, if this thing goes down I’ll be a paragraph on page 24.
We got there and it was a fantastic weekend though I’m not sure everyone got paid.
I remember well an interview the Dubliners did in a theatre in front of a live audience.
It was also being broadcast live on some radio station or other. So when Barney McKenna fell asleep, there was nothing anyone could do except leave him.
When the show ended, and they were off the air, Ronnie Drew went over and woke Barney.
“Why did you fall asleep?” he asked him.
“’Cos I was f**kin’ tired,” Barney replied.
There were a few good sessions on that trip.
It wasn’t all that long before Luke died. But he was enjoying a few jars.
“Remember when I collapsed that time?” he asked me while we enjoyed a few beers. “Doctors told me it was all to do with the drinkin’. So I gave it up for a year. Turned out it was f**k all to do with drink so I wasted a whole f**kin’ year of my life by being on the dry.”
There was a magnificent jam session in Schipol Airport as all the musicians from the various bands prepared for flights home and elsewhere.
The Dubliners were due to play a big outdoor festival in Berlin.
As the session went on it seems someone forgot what time their flight was at.
And they missed it.
Whether or not they made the festival, I don’t know. But as I boarded the flight back to Dublin, they weren’t optimistic.
Luke died the following year.
In a kind of weird way, Connie and I ended up having a few jars with his former wife Deirdre, in Toner’s most Saturdays for a few years.
Anyway, Luke’s legacy deserves better than the treatment that statue has been getting.
I’m sure there are those who will blame the vandalism on drink like the doctor blamed Luke’s collapse on drink.
Well, it has nothing to do with drink. It’s just plain stupidity and ignorance.
I’d hate to see that statue moved.
But if that’s what it takes…