Tipperary singer turned US rock star commemorated at memorial mass in Fethard
A Tipperary singer who became a rock star in the United States in the 1960s was commemorated at a memorial mass in his native Fethard last Friday evening.
Declan Mulligan’s passion, energy and creativity were remembered in a moving ceremony at the Abbaye des Augustins on what would have been his 84th birthday.
His widow Tanya, along with family and friends from the United States, were joined by family and friends at Fethard to honor his life and times.
Declan (picture below) left his family home in the valley in the late 1960s to move to San Francisco to pursue a career as a rock star. And he realized his ambition by becoming a member of the Californian group The Beau Brummels, described as the American answer to the Beatles at the time, and a pioneer of the “San Francisco sound”.
Music had been a part of his life from his early days, playing venues across Ireland, but the call from the United States was big and he left, telling friends he was going to be a rock star’ n’roll and become famous.
Later he became a counselor and became involved in music therapy and passed on his love of music and instruments to adults with developmental disabilities. He died on November 2, 2021.
At Friday evening Mass in his hometown, celebrated by Father Gerry Horan OSA, his ashes were blessed, his music played and tributes paid by family and friends. His sister, Mass planner Marian Gilpin, read the lesson, his daughter Jodie recited a poem she had written in his honor, while longtime friend and former band member Tony del Favero, recalled his many years of friendship with Declan.
Father Horan said it was a special occasion to thank and praise Declan’s life, especially on what would have been his 84th birthday, and he welcomed his widow Tanya and family members who had traveled from the States United for the celebration. .
In addition to the tributes, music played a central role in the mass, with the wonderful singing of Ann Barry and her choir, including soloist Patrice Davern. The ceremony began with the choir singing “Let it Be” by The Beatles, one of Declan’s favorite bands, and ended in an emotional way with a recording of Declan singing his own composition, “Kiltinan.”
His friend Tony del Favero, who was present with his wife Cindy, said he would like to have a little of Declan’s zest for life and passion. “I will always admire Declan for what he gave to all of us, his talent, his creativity, his passion and I want to thank him for all the great memories we have of him,” he said.
He recalled that he first met Declan in 1975 and by then the Fethard man had become an established rock star, but he was humble and never bragged about what he was doing. he had accomplished, giving generously of his time to others.
He continued – “When I met Declan he had a really good gig with his band that could have gone on for many years. But then he was asked to hit the road again and do a reunion tour and he asked me to fill in for him on the gig – even though Declan was irreplaceable. The tour wasn’t as successful as he wanted it to be and when he came back most of the musicians were saying, you’re done, I want to recover my concert, but Declan would welcome me, compliment me and encourage me and that started a friendship that lasted forty-five years”.
Mr del Favero said he had always admired Declan’s passion and energy and recalled how on stage he would fall to the floor, singing and with guitar in hand, and do the splits. “If you’ve ever seen that, you know what I mean about his energy and his fire,” he told those in attendance.
And then later in life, he showed remarkable gentleness and kindness when working with underprivileged adults, introducing them to music and showing them how to play instruments. “They all loved him for his kindness and generosity. He was such an admirable person,” he added.
Later that evening, many in attendance attended a music session at the McCarthys Hotel with a local band, The Pheasant Pluckers, a band Declan often played with during his visits to Fethard.