Northern Ireland news

Mourners hear Irish country music star Brian Coll was 'born to be different'

Philomeana Begley receives a Genisis microphone from Hugo Duncan at his BBC roadshow in St Marys Hall Pomeroy, to mark 50 years in show buisness, also in attendence were Gene Stewart, Brian Coll, Pat McAleer, Genisis, and Andrea Begley. Picture Michael Cullen.
Marie Louise McConville

Mourners gathered in Co Tyrone yesterday for the funeral of a stalwart of the Irish country music scene.

Brian Coll (79) died from a heart attack on Saturday at his home in Omagh.

Mr Coll, who was married with five children, made his name first as a solo singer and then as the front man of such well-known Irish showbands as the Plattermen.

He later started his own band, the Buckaroos, in 1968.

According to, the band made their debut in the Astoria Ballroom in Bundoran, Co Donegal, in June that year and "were an immediate hit with the dancing public".

The original line-up included Mr Coll on vocals and Pio McCann on bass.

Mr McCann passed away last month.

Among the many highlights of Mr Coll’s career was the band’s appearance in 1969 in the world famous Carnegie Hall in New York alongside top American country stars Johnny Cash and Buck Owens.

He was also a huge motorcycling enthusiast and a dedicated supporter of the late world champion biker Joey Dunlop.

Mourners yesterday gathered at Sacred Heart Church in Drumragh for Requiem Mass.

Fr Brian D'Arcy - who was lifelong friends with Mr Coll - described the 79-year-old as a "legend".

"We all know how great Brian Coll was," he said.

"Any person's life can not be summed up in a few words or a few minutes or even a few hours.

"I don't care if we are here until Christmas. We would still find something new to say about him. It would all be funny and it would all be brilliant and unique and genius like because that's exactly what he was.

"The show always went on and the show always finished and the punters were always happy".

Fr D'Arcy, who knew Mr Coll for 64 years, said the performer always "had time for a song, a chat, a story, an opinion".

"He could turn a setback into a comeback," he said.

"He was unique, an individual, a character, the likes of which we will never see again.

"He was born to be different and he was different and that was his genius.

Following Requiem Mass, burial took place in St Mary's Cemetery, Drumragh.

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