Taking the above picture of Ronnie Drew back in 2003, it felt like you were photographing a timeless, ageless, forever face.
And that’s because that instantly recognisable kisser belonged to a timeless, ageless, forever icon.
The great thing about Ronnie Drew was that he was able both to embrace the many hits, myths and legendary nights he had with The Dubliners whilst also constantly looking ahead, searching, exploring, restlessly seeking out some new sensations to play alongside old favourites like The Wild Rover, Seven Drunken Nights, Waltzing Matilda, and on, and on…
If you met Ronnie down on Church Road, heading up to Charlie’s for some rare ingredients or popping into The Burnaby for a swift one, his eyes would light up as he revealed his latest venture, whether it was working with former Public Image Limited bassist Jah Wobble or finding a whole new lease of fame on Top Of The Pops, belting out The Irish Rover with his young pretender, Shane MacGowan.
The past was always important to Ronnie Drew, but it’s what tomorrow might bring that interested him most. That, and what sort of craic he could get up to today.
And there was plenty of craic that went on within the welcoming walls of Benevenagh, up on Killincarrick Road, Ronnie and his beautiful wife, Deirdre, being just about the most gracious, self-effacing and generous hosts you could ever hope to sit down and get merry with.
That both of these beautiful people passed away within a year or so of one another – Deirdre on June 7th, 2007, Ronnie on August 16th, 2008 – make it feel like the end of an era. And it was. Not just for Irish music, but, for Greystones. The town owes them both a debt of gratitude for making us far, far cooler than we ever were before.
We also owe them quite a few rounds of drinks, and dinners, and sessions, and drunken sunrises.
So, today, on the 11th anniversary of the man’s passing, raise a glass, a cuppa, a toast, to Ronnie Drew. It’s what he would have wanted.
You can catch up with Ronnie’s year in Greystones through our archives here.
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