Legacy of Jim Gorman recalled

October 9, 2012

The singing legacy of the  late Jim Gorman from Newry who died last year was recalled in Armagh on Friday night last when the Tommy Makem Scroll of Honour was presented in his honour and accepted by his children Patricia and Pat.

A record tourist imput of over 100 Americans and several hundred locals and  festival supporters heard a citation read out which acknowledged his outstanding contribution to the Irish ballad singing tradition over many years, a person who was renowned  in the district and beyond for his superb singing voice and for his overall generosity of spirit.

Jim, who was born in Kilkeel on Saturday April 9 1932 and died on Saturday April 9 2011, knew Tommy Makem well over many years and both started out their careers in the Show band scene of the fifties.

The festival heard that in the long Irish tradition, Jim Gorman saw the ballad as the ultimate means of communication. To his way of thinking, no event in Irish history was properly recorded until it was put into verse and song. And no occasion was complete unless it was rounded off with a song.

“The ballad was an expression of Jim’s generosity as well as an expression of his overall artistic ability. It was his passport to any occasion, and songs of emigration such as “Cutting the corn in old Creeslough today” and “Noreen Bawn” were among his favourites”

“A singer’s personality is present in their presentation of a song. Not only had he a great repertoire and presented himself well, but there was a warmth and sincerity to his art as a singer that was exceptionally appealing. Whether at a concert, a casual event or singing for Newry Hospice, people were immediately drawn into the sentiments of the song and their attention  held throughout.

“Jim Gorman was also gifted as an artist. He is particularly remembered for his superb cartoons of the famous Down team of the early sixties and these have been perhaps the most lasting representations of the characters of that great team. He was also a renowned portrait painter and among his many artistic ventures, he painted the annual Christmas scenes and children’s fairytale scenes at Daisy Hill Hospital

“ In latter years, he was the driving force behind RAMS, Race Against Multiple Sclerosis, which he founded following the illness of his wife, the late Mary Gorman, In fact he gave up his job at Gorman Graphics to go full time into fund raising for the creation of a Newry centre which was successfully achieved at Carnbane.

At the concert afterwards, family members and friends performed some of his favourite songs and his lifelong singing friend Val Morgan sang two ballads in his honour.

Scrolls of Honour were also presented to Kilkeel born traditional singer Roisin White,  to the family of the late Co Clare singer Marty Marrinan and celebrated authority on the Irish and universal song tradition Dr John Moulden.