Rory Gallagher coin issued to mark 70th birthday

rory gallagher coin
Image caption The 15 euro silver coin is the first in a series honouring 'Modern Irish Musicians'

A new commemorative coin has been launched marking 70 years since the birth of Irish rock and blues legend Rory Gallagher.

The €15 silver proof limited edition coin has been issued by the Central Bank of Ireland.

It is the first in a 'Modern Irish Musicians' series that will also commemorate Phil Lynott and Luke Kelly.

Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, and spent part of his childhood in Londonderry.

He died in June 1995 at the age of 47.

Image copyright MAXWELLS_DUBLIN
Image caption Both Irish President Michael D Higgins and Rory Gallagher's brother, Dónal, were presented with the coin

Mr Gallagher's brother, Dónal, told BBC Radio Foyle: "Rory would have been very modest about all of this and stayed in the dressing room and not come out.

"But he really would be honoured and proud too at the same time.

"Rory made classic music and he didn't follow whatever was fashionable. I remember producers asking him to use certain gimmicks and he always declined. That's what made him stand out."

'Greatest guitarist'

The first coin, featuring the guitarist and his trademark Fender Stratocaster, was presented to Irish president Michael D. Higgins on Monday.

He said Gallagher was "one of the greatest musicians in the history of our country - and certainly the greatest guitarist in our history."

"Indeed, so complete was his mastery it is now impossible to mention the Fender Stratocaster without thinking of Rory Gallagher," he added.

Image copyright Erica Echenberg/GETTY
Image caption Rory Gallagher is considered one of Ireland's greatest ever musicians

Gallagher first made headlines with his band, Taste, in the late 1960s.

When Jimi Hendrix was asked how it felt to be the world's greatest guitarist, he is reported to have said: "I don't know, go ask Rory Gallagher".

He was very popular in Belfast where he played regularly through some of the darkest days of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

In 2007, a memorial plaque to the guitarist was unveiled at the Ulster Hall during a special tribute concert.

Gallagher's albums have sold more than 30 million copies globally.

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