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.”