Friends sing praises of ‘great’ musician

Stewart Hanratty was a wonderful man and musician. Picture: Bill Henry
Stewart Hanratty was a wonderful man and musician. Picture: Bill Henry
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TRIBUTES have been paid to Penicuik-born musician and songwriter Stewart Hanratty, who has died at the age of 59.

A highly respected musician, Stewart’s career saw him play in New York, Louisville, Boston, London and Toronto.

He was the first child born to Eddie, a coal miner and accomplished piper, and Eleanor, who worked in the local paper mill.

Stewart, who taught himself guitar from the age of ten, was also an excellent artist who could have gone to Glasgow Art College, but decided to focus on music.

He went to London shortly after leaving school and retuned to Scotland performing and touring with, among others, Freddy King, Rick Bamforth, Steve Kettley and Winston Odwie.

Dave Anderson and Dave McLennan took Stewart on board The Wildcat Theatre company, where his performances were respected by his colleagues, and luminaries of the Scottish stage such as Elaine C Smith, Dorothy Paul, Lesley Robertson, Gordon Dougal, Rab Handliegh and Peter Mullan.

He did the Man of Lamancha at the Royal Lyceum, seven pantos in the Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy, shows for theatre Alba, Sunshine on Leith and Sun over Genoa at the Festival and Tramway theatres.

He also formed a long musical partnership with Jon Samson performing shows at the Festival such as Cafe Cadenze and for the charity Music in Hospitals they played 186 concerts in six years.

Travelling was very much in his blood as well as music and he played on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships in orchestras and bands.

He much preferred tours to Alaska than the hot Caribbean and enjoyed seeing different parts of the world and absorbing other people’s cultures. Over the past year, while battling with cancer, Stewart wrote and published his first book, Cha-cha-cha DONK, about these times and the people he met.

He had also just had published a second book, Look Rhinos.

A concert organised by many of his musician friends raised £800 for the charity Cancer Research.

Stewart has been described as unique, an intelligent man who loved life, warm, genuine, kind and thoughtful, funny, a great sense of humour.

His brother, Eddie Hanratty, said: “Although away for long periods of time, Stewart was still very much a family man, a loving son to his parents, his sister Eleanor and the best brother anyone could ever ask for.

“He was a great uncle to his nieces and nephews who used to look forward to him coming home with great anticipation of his stories. He was a great friend to many, who was taken far too young.”

A celebration of his life was held in Mortonhall Crematorium where music was very much part of the celebration and thiose in attendance were dancing in the aisles.