Northern Ireland news

Tributes to 'master songwriter' as Bagatelle frontman dies aged 65

Bagatelle lead singer Liam Reilly, left, pictured with bassist Ken Doyle
Mairead Holland

THE lead singer of Bagatelle who died on Friday has been remembered as one of Ireland's greatest songwriters.

Liam Reilly, who was 65 and from Dundalk, Co Louth, was behind the band's biggest hit, Summer In Dublin, which was released in 1980.

He also represented Ireland at the 1990 Eurovision Song Contest with the song, Somewhere in Europe, coming joint-second.

Bagatelle was formed in August 1978 and Mr Reilly fronted it for over 40 years.

Derry musician and composer Phil Coulter tweeted: "Sad news. We have lost one of the brotherhood of Irish songwriters. Liam Reilly, writer of Trump Card, Second Violin and the iconic Summer in Dublin, has passed, too soon at 65.

"Condolences to his family and to Ken and Wally, early Bagatelle bandmates."

Miami Showband guitarist Stephen Travers described Mr Reilly as an "old friend". He said: "My heart goes out to Liam's family and friends and to Ken and Jim and to all his fans. Ireland has lost a national treasure but his legacy will live on forever."

He added that The Streets of New York, written written by Mr Reilly for The Wolfe Tones, was one of the "great Irish emigrant songs of our time".

The Wolfe Tones called Mr Reilly a "master songwriter" and extended their condolences to his family and friends.

Writing on Facebook, Irish musician Gerry Madigan recalled pitching Summer in Dublin with Bagatelle to The Late Late Show's producer in 1980.

He said: "I remember that night in the Green Room as they launched that single on the show... And the rest is history.

"The band enjoyed phenomenal success for the next 40 years, and Liam gained global recognition as a songwriter.

"He gave the world such amazing songs, shared his talent generously, and those songs and his music will go on forever - the music never dies."

In a statement, Mr Reilly's family said he passed away "suddenly but peacefully" at his home on New Year's Day.

"We know that his many friends and countless fans around the world will share in our grief as we mourn his loss, but celebrate the extraordinary talent of the man whose songs meant so much to so many," they said.

In 1990 Reilly represented Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song, Somewhere in Europe. He came joint-second with French entry Joëlle Ursull. Italy claimed victory with Insieme: 1992 by Toto Cutugno.

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