Liam Reilly, the lead singer of Bagatelle, has died aged 65.
The family of the pianist, singer and songwriter confirmed his passing in a statement at the weekend, saying: “With sad hearts, the family of Liam Reilly, musician, songwriter and frontman of Bagatelle, wish to confirm that he passed away suddenly but peacefully at his home on January 1st 2021.
“We know that his many friends and countless fans around the world will share in our grief as we mourn his loss, but celebrate the extraordinary talent of the man whose songs meant so much to so many.
“We ask that you respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time.”
Originally from Dundalk in Co Louth, Liam Reilly fronted the band Bagatelle for over 40 years.
Formed in 1978, the band are known for hits that include Summer in Dublin, Trump Card and Second Violin.
In 1990 Reilly represented Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song, Somewhere in Europe. He came joint-second.
Reilly also composed Ireland’s Eurovision entry in 1991. Kim Jackson performed his song Could It Be That I’m In Love, which placed tenth in the competition.
Mr Reilly also wrote songs for others, including The Wolfe Tones who paid tribute to the ‘master songwriter’ on Twitter: “We are very sorry to hear of the passing of Liam Reilly of Bagatelle. A master songwriter, Streets of New York, Flight of the Earl’s, Boston Rose + many more, condolences to family an friends , Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam….”
Writing on Facebook book musician Gerry Madigan recalled pitching Summer in Dublin with Bagatelle to The Late Late Show: “I can recall vividly the day in 1980 when I pitched Bagatelle with their song, Summer In Dublin, to Adrian Cronin, producer of RTE’s The Late Late Show.
“I remember that night in the Green Room as they launched that single on the show – the last show of that current season with Foster and Allen as the other music guest. And the rest is history. The band enjoyed phenomenal success for the next 40 years, and Liam gained global recognition as a songwriter.”
Madigan added: “He gave the world such amazing songs, shared his talent generously, and those songs and his music will go on forever – the music never dies.
“Thank you Liam for your superb contribution to the Irish music scene. May you rest in peace.”
Stephen Travers, a member of the Miami Showband, said Mr Reilly was a “national treasure”, saying: “I just received the sad news about my old friend, Liam Reilly of Bagatelle. My heart goes out to Liam’s family and friends and to Ken and Jim and to all his fans. Ireland has lost a National Treasure but his legacy will live on forever.”