‘Virtuoso’ jazz musician Gay McIntyre dies aged 88

Clarinettist and saxophonist played alongside greats such as Nat King Cole, Acker Bilk

One of Ireland's most renowned jazz musicians, Gay McIntyre, has died aged 88.

He died at home on Wednesday surrounded by his family.

A clarinettist and alto saxophonist, McIntyre played alongside jazz greats including Nat King Cole, Acker Bilk and performed throughout Ireland and Europe for six decades.

He also had a long association with the City of Derry Jazz Festival, which will honour him at next year's renewal.


Mayor of Derry Graham Warke paid tribute to McIntyre as an "immense talent" who "at a time when jazz wasn't widely accessible, brought music to new audiences and he will no doubt continue to inspire new generations. His memory will live on in the music – it was his gift to the people of Derry."

The MP for Foyle, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, sent his condolences to family and friends, describing McIntyre as "a one-man musical institution in our city . . . as well as being a musical legend he taught and nurtured the finest talent on our island and did so much for Derry's jazz festival."

Musician Phil Coulter expressed sorrow at the "passing of the great Gay McIntyre. He was a virtuoso musician, a jazz icon and my friend for 60 years. May his gentle soul rest in peace."

McIntyre is survived by his wife Irene, six children and his grandchildren. The funeral will take place in St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry on Friday.

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times