There are many bricks that have been used to build the perception of Galway as a place where expression is encouraged, where creativity is not mocked, where difference is celebrated rather than feared. And there are many bricklayers who have helped construct this, not just recently but in the decades past.
Charlie McBride was one such bricklayer. Indeed, he was a man who would have pushed a barrow of these bricks as his gentle probing of interviewees and reviewing of works made him a questioner par excellence, in whom artists and subjects had the greatest of ease and confidence.
In the week since Charlie’s sad passing, I have been inundated with messages and emails and tweets about how Charlie helped people along the way. Nervous artists or performers fearful of reaction to their debut works were all encouraged by his thoughtful and considered writings. I felt privileged as an editor to be able to call upon a man of such integrity and talent when I needed someone to interview a subject to brighten the pages of this publication.
There was nobody that would faze Charlie. If ET had come back and was free for a chat, Charlie would have been the man to ask the alien all the right questions, and no doubt, ET would have emailed a note of thanks at the end product. Such was the reaction that I got regularly to his works. He was fair and honest and mentoring with his works, using his vast experience as a performer and with Druid to instil confidence in the new generation of cultural architects in the region.
While Charlie was a massive asset for us to have here at the Advertiser, to his family, he was everything. And to Charlie, they were everything. His so obvious love for his wife Aileen and their two daughters Isobel and Lily was always to the fore. And not even a clash with the ET interview would have made him change any plans he would have had with them.
It was this love of family, this sense of nurturing that permeated his writing. That made him understand what interviewees were feeling. That threw a sprinkling of humanity across all his words.
I sympathise with them and thank them for sharing this lovely man with us.
I will miss not having him there to turn to when I need an interview carried out again. Thankfully, all of the thousands of interviews that Charie wrote for us are available online and in our archives, and a compilation of these in some form will make fascinating reading in the future.
Galway has lost a rich resource in the past week. However, his legacy lives on in his words and in the creativity and imagination of those he encouraged and inspired. Farewell, Charlie, farewell.