The Harland diaspora

During the service there were three eulogies given by his brother Wallace; his art teacher and jazz critic, Solly Lipsitz; and his old friend from schooldays, Alan Shields. Here is what Alan had to say:


Beauty is truth, truth beauty
that is all you know on earth
and all ye need to know

Did Dermod Harland change the world
and make it a better place to live?
The answer is yes.
How he did this is simple.
He increased the amount of beauty in the world

Dermod’s personality and his music cannot be separated.
The one thing common to both was maturity;
maturity that arose from a man who understood enough to care,
and cared  enough to understand

Never said more than was needed,
Never played more than was needed.
He knew in his soul what it is that you just cannot define
about that thing called swing

He could play a ballad and could play the blues

You see now I’m beginning to define what greatness is;
How he inspired myself and so many others.
Integrity, honesty, all of these things,
 and always cloaked in humility

Sense of humour
He could tell a joke, in fact he cold tell lots of jokes
especially ones about banjo players

You can only say so little with words
but music is limitless, infinite.
What Dermod Harland,
Gentleman, Artist and Friend
has left us is infinite

Not only is his music infinite
but so also is Dermod
He is Always

Here are some words about his new
dimensions and extensions


You are a chord change
you  are the blues
you are the red of a poppy
you are the blue of the sky
you are a green leaf,
the distance between here and a star,
you are a bird of paradise

The final words I would say to Dermod are these


Dermod was a much  loved son and brother,  a gifted artist, and a very talented jazz musician. - performing on soprano, alto, tenor and baritone  saxophones and clarinet.  On the first anniversary of his death the jazz community came together to provide a tribute to someone they all missed. A colleague from  the Ulster Orchestra, Steve Barnett, dedicated his own composition in Dermod’s memory (Sources 13).

His father spoke these words just before the funeral left Castlehill Road.
“He was born when we lived in Durham, but came to Belfast when he was seven. Nevertheless he always retained a sort of mid-Irish-Sea accent which puzzled many people. It was neither true Ulster-speak, nor true Geordie either, but an engaging admix of his own invention. With living in England, we decided on a truly Irish name; but because we thought the spelling of Diarmuid would cause consternation, we chose Dermod. He must have cursed us  often, for everyone got it wrong, including the newspapers this week - but, typically, he stuck with it. His fellow musicians sometimes used to call him Dexter, and I once asked him why.  It was, of course, after the great American sax player  Dexter Gordon. But his droll response was more pleasing. He said, “ Dexter was chosen for tax purposes or for playing up the Shankill!” .  We are all going to miss you, Old Son”.

Dermod did not have any  church connections, so the decision was taken to have a humanist funeral. The ‘service’ was held in Roselawn Crematorium, Belfast, at 3 PM on Tuesday 11 March 1997.


The jazz musicians of Ulster turned a terribly sad occasion  into a memorable celebration of a wonderful colleague’s life and times.  Gerry Rice and Foggy Little played a duet as the family members carried  in the coffin. At the time of the committal four members of the Apex Jazz Band, led by George Chambers, stood beside the bier and played a very slow blues. Once the coffin had disappeared, the music changed to a rousing stomp. The effect was electric, providing another answer to that age old question ,”Death where is thy sting?”.