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Obit: Irish Fiddler James Byrne (Nov 2008)

GUEST,Philippa 10 Nov 08 - 08:16 AM
GUEST,doc.tom 10 Nov 08 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,Philippa 10 Nov 08 - 09:49 AM
GUEST,Dáithí 11 Nov 08 - 07:22 AM
widowmaker 11 Nov 08 - 07:46 AM
GUEST,Dáithí 13 Nov 08 - 07:11 AM
GUEST,Dáithí 14 Nov 08 - 07:02 AM
GUEST,Philippa 14 Nov 08 - 09:24 AM
GUEST,Mick Brown 17 Nov 08 - 05:58 AM
GUEST,Dáithí 17 Nov 08 - 06:17 AM
GUEST,Margaret & Terence Little,Michael & Margaret 17 Nov 08 - 03:23 PM
Rapparee 17 Nov 08 - 03:31 PM
GUEST,Seán Mac Nialluis 18 Nov 08 - 02:22 AM
GUEST,carolanne McKirnan 26 Nov 08 - 02:32 PM
Newport Boy 11 Feb 09 - 08:45 AM
GUEST 22 Feb 09 - 11:30 PM
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Subject: Obit: James Byrne
From: GUEST,Philippa
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 08:16 AM

James Byrne, an important fiddle player from Gleann Cholm Cille, Co Donegal, Ireland died suddenly at the weekend. He is being buried today. I heard the sad news on the radio yesterday and I haven't looked up newspaper reports yet. James' wife organises music classes and she that the children all play fiddle so they will keep the tradition going.


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Subject: RE: Obit: James Byrne
From: GUEST,doc.tom
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 09:29 AM

That is a great sadness. Had some memorable nights out with James & Con Cassidy when last we visited Packie. Our best wishes to James' family.


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Subject: RE: Obit: James Byrne
From: GUEST,Philippa
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 09:49 AM

that must have been some time ago, when Con Cassidy was still around. Packie Manus O'Byrne, if that's the Packie you mean, has reached a ripe old age, 90+ - but wasn't well enough to host a social night at the Cup o' Tea festival this year.


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Subject: RE: Obit: James Byrne
From: GUEST,Dáithí
Date: 11 Nov 08 - 07:22 AM

That's very sad news indeed...I visit the Glen every year and always played a few sessions with James and Connie in Roarty's or Biddy's. Not only was James highly regarded as a Donegal fiddler, but also did a lot of work with local kids, passing on the tradition.
Despite the fact that i play the whistle and speak only a little Irish, he was always happy to talk with me, and accompany my tunes etc. A very gentle man, maise!

Le mo sheacht beanneacht ar a chlann.
Dáithí


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Subject: RE: Obit: James Byrne
From: widowmaker
Date: 11 Nov 08 - 07:46 AM

sad news indeed but was pleased to know that packie was still with us I had some fantastic tunes with "Packie" Good Man


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irish Fiddler James Byrne (Nov 2008)
From: GUEST,Dáithí
Date: 13 Nov 08 - 07:11 AM

Anybody got any details of how he died at all? He looked ok when I saw him in the summer...
And what's this about Connie being ill as well??
Geeez...
D


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irish Fiddler James Byrne (Nov 2008)
From: GUEST,Dáithí
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 07:02 AM

there is a brief write up in the Donegal Democrat about his funeral, Tommy Peoples and a over 50 fiddlers turned up and played at the Mass...hundreds of others came from from all over the country.

And the fact that he was found dead in the lene..but little else.

Can't believe there's not more about this great fiddler and lovely fella... Nobody got any more info?

D


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irish Fiddler James Byrne (Nov 2008)
From: GUEST,Philippa
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 09:24 AM

there's a long write up in the Donegal Democrat

although it doesn't say, I would imagine his death was caused by a heart attack. The article say he was on his way back from a session in the pub. James was not a drinking man, so I shouldn't think alcohol was a cause of his death.

I will see what is in the Derry Journal today; fiddler Martin McGinley is the editor. I got the information about James too late to attend the funeral; I simply wrote to Connie. I don't see anything in the Democrat about being ill, but maybe I should ring her.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irish Fiddler James Byrne (Nov 2008)
From: GUEST,Mick Brown
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 05:58 AM

For those teetering on the brink of idle speculation, James died suddenly of a massive heart attack just after 3.30am while walking up the lane to his house. His death was an enormous shock to Connie and the girls, his neighbours and friends, and everyone else who knew him.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irish Fiddler James Byrne (Nov 2008)
From: GUEST,Dáithí
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 06:17 AM

Thanks Mick Brown - like Philippa I hardly thought it would have been drink-related - I never saw the man take any at all!

Well, An Ghlean will be a different place without him for sure..

Le gach dea-ghuí
Dáithí


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irish Fiddler James Byrne (Nov 2008)
From: GUEST,Margaret & Terence Little,Michael & Margaret
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 03:23 PM

We are so sad to hear of James' passing. We saw him this August in Kilcar, and Michael & Margaret Byrne saw him on Oct 24th in Carrick when James recognised them and came up to say hallo. Earlier, James often used to go to Glenmalin and play with Joe & Mickey Byrne,(our Uncle & Father) sadly Glenmalin is no longer habited but the Byrne family hope to rebuild there. Again we are so saddened by James' death, he truly was one of the World's Gentlemen, R.I.P.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irish Fiddler James Byrne (Nov 2008)
From: Rapparee
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 03:31 PM

Ah, no! This is a terrible loss. My sympathy and prayers to his family.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irish Fiddler James Byrne (Nov 2008)
From: GUEST,Seán Mac Nialluis
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 02:22 AM

James was a gentle man, as well as a great musician who was steeped in 'the tradition'. His untimely death is a great loss.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irish Fiddler James Byrne (Nov 2008)
From: GUEST,carolanne McKirnan
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 02:32 PM

James was a great man and will be much missed. I remember a summer day, I was traveling with an American fiddler of some renown. On the way to a visit with James we met him and family on the road. Three fiddles came out in short order. A wonderful session ensued . James was always ready at the fiddle as with the plow.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irish Fiddler James Byrne (Nov 2008)
From: Newport Boy
Date: 11 Feb 09 - 08:45 AM

A full obituary appears in today's Guardian. Text copied below.

Phil


Obituary
James Byrne

Donegal musician who kept alive the art of the traditional Irish fiddler

    * Joseph Crane
    * The Guardian, Wednesday 11 February 2009
   
James Byrne, a quiet man who rarely left south-west Donegal, was nevertheless known throughout the musical world as one of the best traditional Irish fiddlers.

Byrne, who has died aged 62, was a pig farmer from the mountainous Irish-speaking region of Glencolmcille. The music of the area is essentially derived from the Scottish folk tradition, with strathspeys, reels, and "highlands" brought back by workers who would travel to Scotland for the "tattie" picking. Several exceptional fiddlers lived near the Byrne farm, and it was visited by at least one, the legendary John Doherty.

The Byrne family were also musically talented, and James was taught to play the fiddle by his father, John. He listened to the influential Sligo players Coleman, Killoran, and Morrison on 78rpm discs, admiring the sound, tunes and style - often, he said, using thorns instead of needles for the wind-up gramophones. The family would discuss the merits of the Sligo style, and would play the tunes, but would use the Donegal style of playing instead.

After Byrne had grown up and become a farmer, he recalled that interest in fiddle playing was so widespread that if fiddlers came on the radio when he and his fellow farm workers were in the fields, they would dash into the house to listen.

But emigration and old age diminished the tradition. By 1980, many of the players of Doherty's generation had died, and Donegal music was only being played in isolated pubs. The fiddlers put their instruments away: Byrne said, "We sat in Halla Muire [the church hall in Glencolmcille] and played cards." Ironically, it was a time when Irish folk music was becoming increasingly popular throughout Ireland, Britain and America due to groups such as Planxty and the Bothy Band.

However, a young fiddler from Derry, Dermot McLaughlin, heard about Byrne's prowess on the instrument and tried to revive the tradition. Soon, Claddagh Records, the small, prestigious Dublin label, recorded The Brass Fiddle, featuring Byrne. He followed this with a solo album, The Road to Glenlough (a lake near his home in Mín na Croise), in 1990.

As Byrne's fame grew, so did that of a young band from Donegal called Altan, who played many of his tunes. Cairdeas na bhFidileiri, the fraternity of fiddlers, rediscovered the older fiddlers in Donegal and enlisted the help of several, including Byrne, to start a summer school to pass on the style of playing and the tunes.

Byrne became better known outside Donegal and played at London's Return to Camden Town festival - one of his very rare departures from his home county, where he usually played in local pubs. He also appeared in several TV programmes, including the BBC series Bogmail.

In recent years, Byrne began his own summer fiddle school, and performed regularly with his partner, Connie Drost, and their daughters Merle, Aisling and Seona, all excellent fiddlers.

His death by heart attack came as a shock to many, as he had seemed fit and healthy. He is survived by Connie, Merle, Aisling and Seona, and his fourth daughter, Sarah.

• James Byrne, fiddler, born 1 January 1946; died 7 November 2008


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irish Fiddler James Byrne (Nov 2008)
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Feb 09 - 11:30 PM

It took a while for the news to get to my part of the US

For the past several summers I have spent a few weeks in Glean Cholm Cille and would hear Jimmy (and often his talented family) playing in Roarty's or Teach Biddy. He was a wonderful musician and patient to those with questions about the music.

It is a loss to all who heard his music and must be a real blow to Connie and the girls. Sympathy to all and prayers for his family.

Dáithí O'Connor


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