29 April 2005

Daily Ireland

The roundabout stops for Mickey

A Belfast man immortalised in a famous Irish song died peacefully at his home in the west of the city yesterday.
Mickey Marley, of Mickey Marley’s Roundabout fame, was found dead at his home at Roden Street.
Originally from the Markets area of south Belfast, Mr Marley was made famous by the Barnbrack song .
Throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s he toured Belfast, particularly those areas worst affected by Troubles-related violence, with his horse-drawn roundabout.
This led to local singer Bobby Hanvey recording the song 'Mickey Marley’s Roundabout', which was covered and became a hit for Barnbrack in 1983.
Barnbrack guitarist and vocalist Alex Quinn has fond memories of Mr Marley.
He recalled: “Mickey was a great wee character, a true Belfastman. He would travel the city with the roundabout and the kids loved to see him walking up their street. They would literally flock to that roundabout.”
Mr Quinn revealed that a section of the Mickey Marley’s Roundabout song was deliberately written to poke fun at him.
He said: “Part of the lyric goes, ‘If you haven’t got a penny and your ma’s gone out, you can still get on his roundabout’.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. Mickey would have chased you if you tried to get on the roundabout for nothing.
“He had this wee Jack Russell dog with him all the time, and like Mickey it took no nonsense.
“He was a great laugh and I will really miss him.”
Mr Marley’s fame, prompted by the song in his honour, led to him appearing at Barnbrack concerts in Belfast’s Arts Theatre and Grand Opera House.
“He would come on stage when we were in the middle of the song and get the biggest cheer of the night,” Alex Quinn said.
“Mickey was more popular than the band.
“We would wind him up and ask where he kept all his money. He would answer in the roughest Belfast accent, ‘In Monte Carlo, what’s it to you?’
“With Mickey’s death Belfast has lost a real character.”

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