Watch Dubliner Luke Kelly in his final performance as fans pay tribute

Luke Kelly final performance

The final performance from Luke Kelly still resonates with fans today, nearly four decades after the great man sadly passed.

Dubliners singer Kelly was aged just 43 when he died from a brain tumour in Dublin in 1984.

However, his impact on Irish music was such that he is still spoken about fondly today by his legions of fans around the world.

Kelly’s final live broadcast performance took place shortly before his death on the Late Late Show alongside his Dubliners bandmates.

The bittersweet moment is remembered by many as Kelly remained a beautiful singer and warm performer to the end.

The song he sung that day was The Night Visiting Song, which describes a re-union of two lovers for one night only before they must part ways again.

The tragic lyrics of the song add the poignancy of Kelly’s performance.

A copy of Kelly singing his final song on the Late Late Show was uploaded onto YouTube in 2007 more than 20 years after his death.

However, Kelly’s legacy in Irish music is unparalleled and to this day the video attracts millions of views from fans around the world.

The comments are packed with heartfelt tributes and personal memories of Luke Kelly and his final television performance.

Jesper Laursen had a personal connection to the song. He said: “In 1990, on my 18th birthday, I was in hospital, being very sick. The worst was the nights, cuz I could not sleep. One night, this song was on some night radio show, and something just clicked… I had to go and learn more about this amazing singer… To my sorrow, I found out, that he had died some years before… But still, here we are, almost 30 years later, I still love Luke Kelly, and I can honestly say, that his voice helped me that night in the hospital….”

The comments also included a first-hand account of the poignant performance from a member of the RTE broadcasting team.

Tony Byrne revealed: “I worked on this! It was the first time the Late Late Show allowed an artist to pre-record a song! All knew this would be his last! His self-chosen epitaph! It wasn’t part of their normal set! Its complicated lyrics had the band afraid that he might not remember the words! You can see it in their faces! He did it in one take! Determined to the end! I’m glad I was there!”

Vik G had a lovely way with words as she complimented Kelly on his unique ability to add emotion to his performance.

She posted: “Barry McKenna is a superb musician. His banjo meanders and croaks like a frog perfectly in sync with Sheehan’s fiddle and Luke’s voice. It echoes in the background and perfectly complements the rest of the band. The way it lingers a haunting echo after each lyric is just so beautiful. What a stunning performance by Luke too. His voice is like a shovel, dredging up deep emotions from within the song, as if only he can access them, by some divine right. What a beautiful song Luke sung as his last, it is just transcendent. This is an unearthly performance, truly cosmic. And Ronnie at the end saying “Good man Luke”. This is just so beautiful. Did they know how deeply they had the power to affect people? This performance is as mystical as the song itself. RIP Barry Ronnie & Luke. God bless you and John too. I doubt they even knew how poignant they all are together. This is completely mesmerising. If there is a Shebeen in Heaven, the Angels God himself and Apollo will come to take inspiration.”

Thousands more had works of kindness and thanks to Luke Kelly, not just for his final performance, but for his lifetime achievements and talent in Irish music.

Take a look at the video below, and there are plenty more great comments to find.

Categorized as Blog

By Andrew Moore

Andrew Moore is a writer for Irish Music Daily and Ireland Calling. His favourite Irish music bands are the Dropkick Murphys and the Pogues.