On the week of the first anniversary of the death of David Bowie, the Irish music scene has lost of one its true blue unsung heroes, George Murray, who set up the Murray’s records chain with his brothers.
I understand the store moved to three different locations in Dún Laoghaire. There was also a store in Grafton Street and Stillorgan, and I believe at one stage there were nine branches of Murray’s.
Murray’s became a seminal spot for the young Bob Geldof before he formed the Boomtown Rats. In his autobiography, Is That It?, Geldof eulogises at length about the shop in a chapter entitled ‘Acting the Maggot’. Murray’s was much more than a record shop, but something of a local cultural institution in Dún Laoghaire. It is very moving to hear so many memories from people who bought their first Beatles, Stones or Bowie album, or other LPs, in the shop. George also ran Record Collector on Wicklow Street, which was a shop I was very fond of.
Incidentally, George Murray isn’t anu relation of the late Pogues and Thin Lizzy manager Frank Murray, whose funeral was only last week, but I believe they were firm friends and often played football together with John Rocha. George also was good pals with the late music journalist George Byrne, who died in 2015.
Ar dheis Dé do raibh a anam
Bob Geldof on Murray’s, Dún Laoghaire from Is That It?
“Some older guitar players and blues aficionados and us would spend afternoons in there listening to music. The Murray brothers never seemed to mind, though when the crowd in the shop grew so big it was bad for business they converted their basement into a small coffee bar. It was wonderful – a sort of shrine to new times, and it did its best to pretend that it could have been found in any of the great centres of the new culture: Hamburg, Liverpool or London.
“The walls and ceilings were painted black and a large mirror flickered the reflection of the pink and green lights from the centrepiece of the whole place, the jukebox. The furniture was sparse with seats around the walls, and a few tables and game machines. In the corner a small bar sold coffee, sweets and soft drinks. It was more of a club than a coffee bar and the place became the new focus of my life.
“Foley and I would go there in the afternoons to join the handful of Murray stalwarts who gathered to listen to music, talk and smoke. The girls were there from Dominican convent in Dún Laoghaire and the schools in Monkstown. Cigarettes were an essential prop, it was impossible to look stylish without them. I first bought hash there, but Murray’s wasn’t a nest of dope fiends, however. It was just part of the scene, like the jukebox, the pinball, the steaming coffee machine, and the music and the talk.”
I remember it well, but I was intimidated by its ‘coolness’ and thought a kid from Sallynoggin would need an intro to go downstairs!
Ha ha John! I’m too young to remember it, but I bought a fair bit of stuff in Record Collector. In Geldof’s buke it does sound unspeakably hip alright!
George had an unbelievable knowledge of pop music and the ability to recall the most obscure details. His main base was the shop on Ormonde Quay. He moved to Grafton Street but unfourtunately because of high rent the shop failed. He later had a shop on Wicklow Street.
From my memory George was not involved in other shops run by his brothers and did not have any involvement in the shop in Dun Laoghaire. The brother who ran the Dun Laoghaire shop was a blues fan and had a coffee shop in the basement of the shop. Georges’s love was soul music but from memory was not impressed by the Chicago Blues of the 50s. As an aside I can remember him telling me he did not rate Lightning Hopkins
I’ll always remember with great fondness going into George’s little Aladdin’s Cave of a place… Record Collector on Wicklow St… down some steep stairs , following the sound waves into an atmosphere of friendliness, fine tunes and discovery.
a genuine love of good music could keep us talking for 20 minutes, more often then not I was ‘sold’ and quite gladly.
We bump into each other at the odd gig, where at the bar we’d spend a little more time talking tunes, the performance, and who else we’d be seeing in the near future. Despite him be around longer then me on this earth he was always interested to have his ear turned or tuned to something or somebody new…as was I.
I always remember too having bought stuff off him, he’d throw a tape from time to time in the bag free gratis, and ask me to let him know next time what I thought…
A gentleman, thanks George.
New his bró. Met him.
In San Francisco. USA
In a hostel. He looked out for me
But my bró worked for him
In dunlaorie. Near people’s p. K
Then in killiney shopping mall
I rember my friends dad
Say to her go back down
To murray’s record shop
And get your money back
After she told her dad
She bought rubber bullet s
I’d say 70s