Honored posthumously, May 7, 2022
Dennis Gallery, was born in the Bronx in 1956 to Irish parents. His mother, Mary Nugent, emigrated from Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare and his father, Dennis, came from Doonogan, a township of Mullagh, just outside of Miltown. While Dennis was still a baby, his parents moved back to Miltown Malbay and they opened a shop on the Ennis Road. By all accounts, young Dennis was a little terror; flying up and down the town on devilish missions. Unfortunately, his father passed away there when he was only 6 yrs old.
When Dennis was 10, his mother decided they should return to New York, to Woodside, Queens where he spent his teenage years and became interested in music. When he asked his mother for guitar lessons, she happily agreed, hoping she would soon be listening to the strains of “The Lovely Rose of Clare.” Weeks later, she heard him playing “Proud Mary” in the basement, and that put an end to the lessons. Well, he was already hooked on playing music and wouldn’t be deterred so he taught himself from there. He learned all his favorite Pop songs and discovered he had a pretty decent singing voice.
A short time later, Dennis heard Dermot Henry performing Irish folk ballads and was inspired to form an Irish dance band. His mother was thrilled! He got busy playing all over the tri-state area and, of course, up in East Durham. He played all genres of music, but mainly Irish, and played with many great musicians over the years. Some of the guys became like brothers to him and great memories were made during their musical escapades. He played in the early years with Pat Dineen, Neil Buckley, Teddy Herlihy, Oliver Charles and the O’Neill brothers - Tommy and Kevin. In later years he played with Charles Murphy, Muggs Daly and Jimmy Lavin, as well as many others in between.
His love for Irish Music broadened into the traditional realm after he attended the Sligo Fleadh in 1991, on his honeymoon with Patricia. He decided it was time to acquire a fiddle and once again started to teach himself. Dennis realized he would need a few lessons so he turned to Sean Quinn for some help. Later he would pick up the mandolin and, in time, the banjo. He was grateful to
Frankie McCormack for some guidance with that. He was now ready to go back to the town he loved so well, Miltown Malbay, to participate in the Willie Clancy Week and he brought his first born son, Dennis Jr., to share the tradition with him. Dennis never realized while growing up in Miltown, that the music was seeping into every fiber of his being. He enjoyed playing all types of Irish music in every sort of venue and was always available to play at benefits and fundraisers. Dennis was a musician’s musician. He was known for his hard work ethic. He would never be late for a gig, never played on “dead strings,” took very few breaks and always wanted to keep people dancing. Dennis loved every connection that he made, not just with his fellow musicians, but with the audiences that loved to hear him sing. He charmed and befriended them all.
Dennis was delighted that his second son, Brian, shared his love of Irish music. They made many beautiful memories playing at sessions together before Dennis’s untimely passing in 2018 at the age of 61. They played at sessions in Doolin, Miltown, Yonkers, Mineola, and the many house sessions with friends Billy Furlong, Sean Quinn, the Lavins, and many more. Dennis treasured all of his musical friendships, especially during his last 2 years. They checked in on him regularly and continued to play music with him. They organized the most amazing benefit and tribute to him and they gave him a beautiful musical send off. For all of that and more, his family will forever be grateful.
The strength, courage and positive attitude that Dennis demonstrated in the face of his illness, was an inspiration to many. He would be so humbled, proud, and delighted to receive this honor. His wife, Patricia, mother Mary O’Keeffe, and sons Dennis and Brian thank the Mid-Atlantic Comhaltas Committee for his induction into this Hall of Fame.