LIFE SIZE BRONZE BY JOHN COLL
Luke Kelly’s legacy and contributions to Irish music and culture have been described as “iconic” and have been captured in a number of documentaries and anthologies.
The influence of his Scottish grandmother was influential in Kelly’s help in preserving important traditional Scottish songs such as “Mormond Braes”, the Canadian folk song “Peggy Gordon”, Robert Burns’ “Parcel of Rogues”, “Tibbie Dunbar”, Hamish Henderson’s “Freedom Come-All-Ye”, and Thurso Berwick’s “Scottish Breakaway”.
The Ballybough Bridge in the north inner city of Dublin was renamed the Luke Kelly Bridge, and in November 2004 Dublin City Council voted unanimously to erect a bronze statue of Luke Kelly. However, the Dublin Docklands Authority subsequently stated that it could no longer afford to fund the statue. In 2010, councillor Christy Burke of Dublin City Council appealed to members of the music community including Bono, Phil Coulter and Enya to help build it.
Paddy Reilly recorded a tribute to Kelly entitled “The Dublin Minstrel”. It featured on his Gold And Silver Years, Celtic Collections and the Essential Paddy Reilly CD’s. The Dubliners recorded the song on their Live at Vicar Street DVD/CD. The song was composed by Declan O’Donoghue, the Racing Correspondent of The Irish Sun.
At Christmas 2005 writer-director Michael Feeney Callan’s documentary, Luke Kelly: The Performer, was released and outsold U2’s latest DVD during the festive season and into 2006, acquiring platinum sales status. The documentary told Kelly’s story through the words of the Dubliners, Donovan, Ralph McTell and others and featured full versions of rarely seen performances such as the early sixties’ Ed Sullivan Show. A later documentary, Luke Kelly: Prince of the City, was also well received.
In September 1988 a monument was erected to commemorate Kelly in the Larkhill area of Whitehall, where he had lived.
Two statues of Kelly were unveiled in Dublin in January 2019, to mark the 35th anniversary of his death. One, a life-size seated bronze by John Coll, is on South King Street. The second sculpture, a marble portrait head by Vera Klute, is on Sheriff Street. The Klute sculpture was vandalised on several occasions in 2019 and 2020, in each case being restored by graffiti-removal specialists.