US academic bequeaths music to adopted Galway home

Free classical music concert to be held to thank people of Oughterard

Classical pianist Finghin Collins. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Classical pianist Finghin Collins. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh


When a retired US chemical engineering professor and Connemara resident realised he had a terminal illness, he decided to leave the people of his adopted home village of Oughterard an unusual bequest.

And so a free concert of classical music involving pianist Finghin Collins is to take place in the Roman Catholic church of Oughterard on Friday night to thank residents for their friendship to the late Richard Gilbert and his family.

Classical violinist Elizabeth Cooney, the Contempo Quartet and the Galway Baroque Singers will also perform at the concert, which was organised by Prof Gilbert’s widow Dorothy “Doc” Cunney-Gilbert.

“Richard, or Dick as he was known, came up with the idea a year ago as a gift for the people of Oughterard, and we weren’t to mention the word “memorial” at all,” Ms Cunney-Gilbert said.

Both she and her husband moved to Boghall, Oughterard, 21 years ago after he had retired from lecturing in chemical engineering at the University of Nebraska (Lincoln), where he was latterly professor emeritus.

He played the organ in the local church and was involved in a number of activities,including tourism and the local agricultural show.

“After he died, I went to a Music for Galway weekend and approached Finghin Collins, and he had it organised in five minutes,”she said.

Eight of the late Prof Gilbert’s family and his brother-in-law have travelled from the US for the occasion, and two of Ms Cunney-Gilbert’s three children from a previous marriage also travelled.