Danny Meehan (b.1940)
Danny Meehan is widely recognised as one of the finest exponents of fiddle playing in Ireland today. He was nurtured in the local tradition, first by his grandmother Susie McGroarty and parents, Jim and Nan, but also by Charlie McCahill, Peter Quinn and John James Connaghan. Accounts relating to the highly regarded Paddy McDyer also formed an important backdrop for Danny. He was touched by the music of Michael Coleman through gramophone recordings and with a host of fiddlers went to listen to radio broadcasts in the house of his neighbour, Mick Gillespie. At twelve years of age he played for John Doherty at Master McHugh’s house in Mountcharles and Doherty’s gentle encouragement made a lifelong impression on young Danny. He emigrated to England in 1956 aged sixteen years and in the early 1960s moved to the capital where he worked hard and skillfully paving the streets of London until his retirement in 2005. Danny was inspired to play after a chance encounter with the west Clare musician, Bobby Casey who Danny described as a ‘king fiddler’. He crafted a highly personal style of fiddle music over the next three decades, combining the rich influences he heard from his grandmother’s knee to Coleman, Doherty and Casey. This he shared through nights and days of music with the group Le Chéile and his great friends, Tommy Peoples, James Byrne and Brian Rooney among others. His relocation back to Donegal in 2007 has re-ignited both attention to detail in the art of fiddle playing, and an oral analysis of the tradition that has inspired the younger generation of players such as Aidan O’Donnell, Iarfhlaith O’Donnell, Jesse Smith, the Friel sisters and many more.
Danny playing the air ‘The Dear Irish Boy’ (rec. by Mícheál Gillespie in O’Neill’s Bar, Letterbarrow, 1977)