Campaign to name Cork Airport after Rory Gallagher gathers pace

Over 10,000 fans have signed a petition to rename terminal after guitarist

Irish blues guitarist Rory Gallagher performing at the Rainbow Theatre in  London in  1972. File Photograph:  Debi Doss/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Irish blues guitarist Rory Gallagher performing at the Rainbow Theatre in London in 1972. File Photograph: Debi Doss/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

 

A campaign to rename Cork International Airport in honour of Irish blues legend Rory Gallagher is continuing to gain momentum, with over 10,000 people signing a petition in favour of the name change.

Gallagher fan and campaigner organiser Brigitte Lehmann said she was delighted that campaign to rename the airport in honour of the Ballyshannon born - but Cork-reared - guitarist had reached more than 10,000 signatures from all over the world.

“Rory Gallagher was single-handedly responsible for bringing Irish music to global status - he has touched the hearts and souls of millions of people throughout the world in a way that most musicians could only dream of,” said Ms Lehmann, who lives in Brussels.

“He still brings countless numbers of visitors to Ireland every year just to walk the ground on which he walked and just as John Lennon was honoured in England by having Liverpool Airport named after him, Cork should be proud to name their airport in Rory’s honour.”

Gallagher began his career playing with The Fontana Showband, which later morphed into The Impact. He later won international acclaim with his band Taste in the late 1960s and later as a solo artist with album sales of over 30 million worldwide.

Gallagher, who died in June 1995 at the age of 47, was once described by Jimi Hendrix as the world’s greatest guitarist and was credited by Eric Clapton with getting him “back into the blues”, was reknowned for his live performances in Ireland, Europe and the US.

Mr Lehmann contacted Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar when she launched the campaign in 2011 . “Rory Gallagher was a fine musician and artist and the people of Cork are justly proud of his association with the city,” Mr Varadkar acknowledged in reply.

However, he pointed out it was not the practice in the Republic of Ireland to name airports after people and he had no plans to change it, despite calls for Dublin Airport to be named after Sean Lemass or James Joyce and Cork Airport to be called after Michael Collins.

Mr Varadkar also pointed out that Cork Airport is loss-making and heavily in debt and his priority was ensure the airport survived the recession and in that context, it might be worth looking at auctioning the naming rights to a campaign or company.

The Department of Transport has informed Ms Lehmann that Mr Varadkar’s position on the issue had not changed despite the petition.

However, Ms Lehmann said she remained determined to honour Gallagher.

“Cork Airport needs an identity and Rory is the ultimate international symbol for Cork and renaming Cork Airport could perfectly fit in with the ambitious initiative to increase international visitors to Cork,” she said.

“It will bring publicity, increase business and make many people - a win-win opportunity for all players.

“Not only would the name change give great artist recognition for Rory’s achievements internationally but it would also give Cork Airport recognition worldwide.”