‘I’ll never forget the pain,’ says Christy Dignam of father’s Covid-19 death

Aslan singer feels lack of closure over death as family were unable to have wake

Christy Dignam: ‘The reason we have the wake is to give you some kind of closure. And we didn’t have that’. File photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Christy Dignam: ‘The reason we have the wake is to give you some kind of closure. And we didn’t have that’. File photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

 

Aslan’s lead singer Christy Dignam has said he will “never forget the pain” of his father’s death from Covid-19.

Speaking on the Late Late Show on Friday night, the musician remembered his father Christopher Dignam snr as his “awakening in music”. The singer said he felt a lack of closure in his father’s death because the family were unable to have a wake.

“When I got the phone call that he passed away the first thing that came into my head was ‘I’ll never see his face again’. I really understood about Irish funerals then. The reason we have the wake is to give you some kind of closure. And we didn’t have that,” he said.

Mr Dignam snr had eight children, 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. “It’s a huge family, but only 9 people were allowed at the funeral,” Mr Dignam said.

Mr Dignam snr had suffered from dementia and was being cared for in a nursing home at the time of his death. “A week before he passed away, I got on the phone to him and he said, ‘Why are you not coming to visit me? Nobody is coming up to see me’. I tried to explain to him but he couldn’t grasp the concept. That was really heartbreaking,” the singer told host Ryan Tubridy.

Mr Dignam described the “huge comfort” of being able to stand outside the window of the nursing home before his father died to say goodbye. “He came up to the window and waved to us. That moment was amazing. The nurse told us that about two hours later he lay down and that was it. It was like he said goodbye to us then.”

Earlier in the show, Mr Tubridy spoke with Kodaline band member Jason Boland whose uncle Matthew Seligman died from Covid-19 last month. Mr Seligman was a bass guitarist who appeared on stage with David Bowie at the Live Aid concert in 1985. Mr Boland, also a bass guitarist, said his uncle had a “really huge impact” on his life as a musician and that his first guitar was given to him by Mr Seligman.

Mr Seligman died aged 64 after spending two weeks on a ventilator at St George’s hospital in London. His nephew was proud of him for his “great career and great life”, adding that he would be “remembered by a lot of people” including those friends of his whom Mr Boland got to meet over a “lovely Zoom memorial” for his uncle.