The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins dedicated the boardroom in the Irish HQ of Fender Guitars to the iconic Irish guitar hero, Rory Gallagher, on Friday, 16 March.
The special ceremony took place at the Fender Guitars HQ in Dublin’s Harold’s Cross and the dedication of the Fender boardroom was attended by Dónal Gallagher, brother, manager and mentor to Rory, as well as Dónal’s son, Eoin Gallagher and the MD of Fender in Europe, Graeme Mathieson, who told how Rory Gallagher had been one of his own great inspirations.
Also in attendance was the Scottish artist, Alec Galloway, who was commissioned to do a special work for the boardroom – a piece which includes elements of Rory Gallagher’s own instruments, including a whammy bar and a bridge-cover. Galloway is a former member of the successful 80s rockabilly act, The Shakin Pyramids.
The President paid tribute to Rory as one of the greatest Irish musicians of the modern era and talked about his extraordinary ability as a live performer, and the inspirational quality of his guitar playing – primarily, of course, on the Fender Stratocaster, which became so closely identified with him. He was presented with a framed copy of Alec Galloway’s superb art piece, and with a box set of Rory Gallagher albums on vinyl which have just been released.
“Rory Gallagher’s relationship with Fender started back in 1961, when his legendary Stratocaster was first built. Crowley’s in Cork had ordered a red Strat for a well-known showband at the time, but a sunburst Strat was mistakenly delivered instead, and declined by the show band in question”, said the President.
“Legend has it that it was the first Fender Stratocaster in Ireland. The guitar was for sale in the window of the shop – and it was there that Rory first laid eyes on it. He bought that very same Stratocaster in 1963, and the rest, as they say, is history. He went on to make some incredible music with that guitar, which has inspired everybody here today.”
In 1999, Fender Custom Shop released the Rory Gallagher Signature Stratocaster. Initially only 40 of this iconic guitar were built but demand was so high that the model remains in production today.
A few years later, in 2006, a bronze replica of Rory’s famous Strat was unveiled at Rory Gallagher Corner in Temple Bar in Dublin.