Showband legend Larry Cunningham could have become one of the biggest stars in the US had he not opted to stay true to his native Co Longford roots.
Those were the assertions put forward by councillors at last week’s meeting of the local authority as politicians gathered to remember the much loved Mullinalaghta singer.
Cllr PJ Reilly, who counted the father of four as one of his constituents, said the Cunningham name may well have taken the American market by storm had the country singing veteran decided to take up the opportunity.
“After Jim Reid died he could have made it big time in the US, but he decided to stay here,” said the north Longford Fianna Fail representative.
Mr Cunningham, or more simply ‘Larry’ as his most avid fans knew him best, passed away aged 74 following an illness at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin four weeks ago.
Many of those supporters joined the likes of fellow country stars Daniel O’Donnell, Mike Denver and Big Tom at Mr Cunningham’s Funeral Mass inside a thronged St Columba’s Church in Mullinalaghta four days later.
Each taking their turn to remember the country star, councillors recalled their own memories, many of which centred on Mr Cunningham’s regular appearances at the Longford-London Association Dinner Dance in Cricklewood.
Labelled an “icon in Longford” by Cllr Mick Cahill, party colleague Cllr Denis Glennon said there was much more to the singer than just music.
“I would have known Larry and Beatrice (Mr Cunningham’s wife) when the two lads (Barry and Lorcan) went to school. He reared a very fine family and was a great role model for people in the music business to follow,” said the former St Mel’s College principal.
Cllrs Paul Connell and Barney Steele meanwhile, both took time relaying their own personal insights about Mr Cunningham.
However, it was undoubtedly the contribution made by Cllr Luie McIntyre which drew the loudest cheer as the Fianna Fail politician told of a light hearted exchange Mr Cunningham had with fellow Cllr Frank Kilbride in London several years ago.
“I was a proud supporter of the showband era and Larry was one of my favourites,” he smiled, arms folded.
“One year, I was in the Galtymore in Cricklewood at the Longford London dinner dance. Larry was at it and a request came in for Frank Kilbride to sing.
“Frank got up and Larry said what are you going to say? Frank said ‘I will sing Five Little Fingers’. Larry’s response was ‘How will you do that? Sure you only have four-and-a-half fingers.”
That remark left many, including Cllr Kilbride, in raptures as councillors stood for a minute’s silence to pay tribute to one of Longford’s greatest ever musicians.
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