Irish folk music legend Finbar Furey has revealed how he was left heartbroken after missing out by a few short hours on the chance to say a proper last goodbye to his close friend Brendan Grace.
He was about to travel to Galway to visit the 68-year-old comedian in his hospital bed when he got a phone call with the bad news.
In an exclusive interview with Dublin Live, Finbar said: “I couldn’t believe it.
“I’d missed seeing him, which broke my heart a bit. We were ready to go and then I just got the news that Brendan had died.
“I got a phone call from [Brendan’s son-in-law] Frankie Gillespie to tell me. And I said, ‘Ah dear’.
“But he said he had a very peaceful passing. To the end, he said, he was joking and laughing.”
Recalling his last phone conversation with the national treasure, Finbar said: “Not once did I hear him complain.
“The last phone call I got from him, he phoned me and said he would love to do a folk album and asked would I get involved in it.
“I said, ‘I’d be honoured’. He was a brilliant singer. And that was the last phone call and that wasn’t too long before he got sick.”
Finbar, who did a joint seven-week tour of Australia with Bottler in 2015, said it was a “great honour” to play at his funeral last month.
He said: “We piped him out with Amazing Grace and that was very fitting for Brendan. It was a beautiful funeral, if you can say that.
“Everybody loved him and everybody was there. He’ll be sadly, sadly missed. He was a wonderful character. I will always remember [how] he made me smile and laugh. He always made me feel good inside. He was a lovely man. I’ve great memories of him on the road.
“I think he deserves a statue as well. I think he played more times in The Gaiety than anybody I know.
“And we’ll have to get him one at the other side of The Gaiety so himself and Luke [Kelly]can be looking at each other.”
Finbar explained he couldn’t visit Brendan any earlier because he had only been released from hospital himself.
The 72-year-old, who almost died following suffering a major heart attack in 2012, had been taken to Tallaght Hospital after feeling unwell in July.
Finbar was then kept in hospital for eight days to undergo tests. He said: “I was sweating a bit. My heart was hitting very high – at one time it was 146 beats a minute. I first thought maybe the stent moved or something.
“When I got there they said, ‘Have you ever had a blood transfusion?’ I said, ‘No’. They said, ‘You’re going to have one now. You’re anaemic’.
“So, they gave me a couple of pints of blood. Then they pumped iron into me. My blood count was so bad – it was only seven I think. I was very lucky.
“They were great in the hospital. And then they said, ‘Seeing that we have you here, we’ll check every piece of you.’ And they did.”
Doctors then discovered Finbar had pneumonia in his lung, which can kill if not treated promptly.
He said: “I was coughing and breathing a bit heavy, especially when I was doing the gigs.
“I used to be afraid of my life that I was going to start coughing but for some reason it never bothered me on stage, it was only when I came off.
“So, anyway, they found it and they put me on antibiotics – that’s why they kept me in for the eight days. They got rid of it.
“I’m back to full steam again. So watch out.
“The original stent was OK but they decided to change it anyway.
“It was like getting a new set of tyres on the car. It was great to get everything done. It’s like somebody coming along and wiping the slate clean and saying, ‘Right, start again’. I did a bit of a skip when I left the hospital.”
Finbar insisted he will never retire but he has now decided not to tour overseas anymore after an upcoming gig in Denmark.
He said: “I won’t travel again outside of Ireland.
“I’ll stay at home. I won’t tour [abroad] anymore.
“Every six months I’m offered a tour of Australia and I won’t go back – it’s just that far now to travel.
“I’ll probably go over to the States to just hang out, as I’ve a lot of friends in America. But no, I won’t ever tour outside of the country.”
Despite getting on in years, Finbar insisted he doesn’t worry about dying.
He said: “It doesn’t bother me – when it happen, it’s happens. When you start thinking about that sure you’ll never get out of bed.
“I have no time to think about death, that’s the truth. I don’t feel any older than 21, trust me. There’s nothing I still can’t do.
“I give it a total 120% every morning I get up. I think life couldn’t be any better at the moment. As I said, I’ve no time for death.”
- You can catch Finbar live at Crescent Hotel Drogehda next Thursday, at the Big Top in Waterford City on August 19 and at the Tonder Festival in Denmark taking place between August 22 to 25.
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Source: Celebrity News Ireland