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26 May 2022

Iconic Donegal musician Gay McIntyre honoured at Derry Jazz Festival

Portrait of much-loved musician is unveiled

Iconic Donegal musician Gay McIntyre honoured at Derry Jazz Festival

Irene McIntyre pictured beside a portrait of her husband Gay during a reception in the Guildhall. Included from left are Paul, Justine, Zoe, Gina and Karla

The family of iconic jazz musician Gay McIntyre were invited by the Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Alderman Graham Warke, to the Guildhall for a special reception in his honour on the opening night of the City of Derry Jazz Festival.

The Mayor took the opportunity to pay tribute to the internationally renowned jazz saxophonist who was one of the original founders of the Jazz Festival and whose name became synonymous with the event over the years.


The Mayor, Graham Warke pictured with Irene McIntyre at the Guildhall (Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)

Born in Stranorlar, Gay grew up in Derry and went on to play with legendary jazz musicians including Nat King Cole and Acker Bilk in a career that spanned 70 years.

He started playing saxophone after his family moved to Derry. He was still a regular performer in recent years and had a weekly gig at the jazz venue Bennigan’s in Derry where he played with younger generations of musicians.

He passed away at his home in Derry in October at the age of 88.

A portrait of Gay was unveiled at the reception and was on view in the Guildhall over the course of the festival which ran over the May Bank Holiday weekend.


The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Graham Warke pictured with members of the Gay McIntyre family at a reception in the Guildhall in his honour

This year’s festival featured a number of tribute events in his honour. Local Jazz legends including Gay's own son, the acclaimed musician Paul McIntyre, came together to celebrate the music that Gay loved and brought to the people of Derry with such passion throughout his life. 

The Gay McIntyre Stage was the focal point of the outdoor activity at this year's festival with performances throughout the weekend in the Guildhall Square.

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