John Cassidy (1886 – 1924)

The brass fiddle

(8th June 1886 – 24th August 1924)

John, the eldest of the Cassidy brothers, was born and raised at An Cheapach, Teileann. He is still spoken of and remembered as one of the finest fiddle players of his generation in Teileann, even though he passed away at the age of thirty seven. John also had a great interest in photography and watch repairing. It is said that his fiddle music had a big influence on his younger brother, Frank, who later developed into a fiddler of note. In the early 1920s John and Frank Cassidy together manufactured a fiddle made of brass. Sleeve notes from ‘The Brass Fiddle’ recording give further insight into the making of the fiddle:

‘It was made in the 1920s by Frank and Johnny Cassidy, both Teelin fiddlers. The body of the fiddle is beautifully made from heavy brass obtained from a brass drum washed ashore at the bottom of the cliffs at Bun Glas near Sliabh Líag, site of some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe . The fiddle is quite heavy and has a quiet, soft – almost dull – tone, due to the acoustic properties of the brass. It is, by any standards, an outstanding piece of craftsmanship’.

John composed several tunes and some of these including ‘ An Gearrán Bán ‘, a slow air, have been passed on by his brother, Frank.