- 22 Aug 18
His friends and family's final farewell to the former member of Scullion, Greg Boland, who died last week, was a sad occasion – lightened by wonderful memories of the man himself and some fine music.
There was a huge turn-out of musicians at the celebration, which took place in Dublin today, of the life of the renowned Irish guitarist Greg Boland, who died late last week.
Greg Boland was one of Ireland’s finest guitar-players, wonderfully melodic and hugely sophisticated in his playing. Beginning his professional career in the 1970s, along the way he was a member of Supply, Demand and Curve, Stagalee, Scullion and Bumper to Bumper, as well as working as a seriously in-demand session musician. Later on, he was a lynchpin in the outstanding Steely Dan covers band, Aja.
The memorial ceremony opened with Steely Dan’s ‘Aja’, a wonderfully appropriate note, given just how thoroughly Greg had mastered the nuances of the Dan’s music. The links throughout the ceremony were provided by his long-standing musical brother-in-arms, Tommy Moore – who spoke very eloquently in paying tribute to Greg.
Greg’s mother Sheelagh led the mourners, who also included his brothers Andrew and Tim and his children Laura and Adam, his sisters in law Claire and Sarah and Jackie. The Victorian Chapel in Mount Jerome was packed with musicians and many others from across the spectrum of the music industry.
A deep sense of shock and grief was palpable within this community of musical brothers and sisters, at the suddenness of Greg’s loss; there were lots of funny stories too, which touched on his sharp wit, his love of life and the occasional excesses that are an almost inevitable part of a musician’s way of being. There was sadness in abundance, of course, but also a strong sense that the legacy left by Greg Boland, through his music, is a powerful and enduring one.
Among those present were Anto Drennan, Bill Whelan, Brian Masterson, Philip King, Dave Fanning, Jim Lockhart, Mary Coughlan, Ian Wilson, Leo O’Kelly, Finbar Furey, Donal Lunny, Cora Venus Lunny, Twink, Mary Stokes, Brian Palm, Irene Alger, Shane Alger, Judy Lunny, Pete Cummins, Abby Harris, Oliver P. Sweeney, Pete Holidai, Pat Collins, Fran Quigley, Billy McGrath, Honor Heffernan, Trevor Knight, Paul Russell, Robbie Overson, Paul McAteer, Julian Vignoles, Alan Begley, Julian Douglas, Matt Keleghan, Terry Cromer, Ken Kiernan, Sonny Condell, Nigel Rolfe, Garvan Gallagher, Mary McEvoy, Patrick Bergin, Pat Paul Thomas, Gerry Farrelly and members of Aja, Errol Walsh, Kevin Malone, Niall Toner (Senior and Junior), Mary Coughlan, Flo McSweeney, Liam O Maonlai, Davey Spillane, James Delaney, Francie Conway – and so many more who have oiled the wheels of live and recorded music in Ireland, so often brilliantly, over these past 50 years.
It was a lovely moment on an emotional occasion when the gorgeous sound of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Refuge of the Roads’ wafted from the speakers, Jaco Pastorius’ wonderfully melodic bass singing with sonorous beauty to the high heavens.
The song may have been written by Joni Mitchell after a visit to the Buddhist master of meditation Chögyam Trungpa, but for a moment it seemed that she might have a been singing about Greg. “'Heart and humour and humility’/ he said/ 'Will lighten up your heavy load’.” If she had mentioned honesty too, it would surely have been about the man himself.
Greg Boland may be gone now, for there is no escaping the terrible physical finality of death. But as Tommy Moore said, his spirit will live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew him, loved him and were touched by the wonderful gift of his music, and his musicianship.
From everyone in Ireland who loves great music: thank you, Greg.