Paying tribute to the once famous Belfast singer Ruby Murray

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

A plaque to the singer Ruby Murray was unveiled on the Donegall Road yesterday, close to where she was born on Moltke Street.

Murray is almost unknown to younger people today, yet she was there at the very advent of pop music. In 1955, almost a decade before the Beatles became famous, Murray had five hit singles in the Top Twenty concurrently. She was born in 1935, before the wave of pop greats born in the 1940s.

One reason her profile has waned latterly is that she died far too young in the 1990s, only just into her 60s.

But she was once so well known for her singing that the phrase ‘going out for a Ruby’ emerged.

It is thanks to the one-time civil servant and emerging writer Michael Cameron, and also the Ulster History Circle, that this plaque has been put in place (see page 20).

Several Ulster people were famous figures in popular culture in the 1950s, or else began to emerge at that time.

Some of them are still well known, including the songwriter Phil Coulter and the flautist James Galway, but others have become much less familiar than they once were.

The Glengormley actor Stephen Boyd starred in Ben-Hur in 1959,placing him at the pinnacle of Hollywood fame.

The singing butcher, James Johnston, a tenor from the Sandy Row, sang at international level until the 1960s.

These fine talents deserve a prominent place in the rich tapestry that is Northern Ireland’s near-century of history.