John Doogan (1874 – 1932)
(4th November 1874 – 29th June 1932)
John Doogan, blacksmith and fiddle player was a grandson of Patrick Doogan, the first of the Doogan family to arrive in Leitir having migrated there from the Dungannon area of County Tyrone in the early nineteenth century. John’s father was also Patrick and his mother was Brigid Byrne of An Dúinín. The eldest of six boys and two girls, John went on to marry Maggie Byrne from Málainn Mhóir in Gleann Cholmcille. It is possible that he picked up some of his music from his father, but we are certain that he inherited the trade of blacksmithing from him. Given its roadside location, it is highly probable that John’s forge was a meeting place for settled and travelling players alike including John Mhósaí McGinley, Alec and Mickey McConnell and the Doherty family. John was also a contemporary of another fine player from Cill Charthaigh, Pat Harvey. John’s three sons all played the fiddle but only Brian persisted into later adulthood and played up until he died. John played mostly at big nights at his home place and in local houses, as there were few dance halls in his day. Like Paddy Bhilli na Rópaí of Coillte Fanaid, John was known to play and dance at the same time. He was a very accomplished fiddler and was noted by Francie Dearg Ó Beirn as one of the foremost players of the older generation in the parish. Two of John’s brothers, Pat and Joseph were also highly regarded fiddlers who emigrated to the USA along with their sister, Margaret, who also played. Bridget Doogan, John’s aunt married James Meehan in Leirg an Dachtáin. Through this connection John Doogan’s music influenced players of that locality including James Meehan and his family. John’s grandnephew, James McNelis of Goirt Sháile was a very highly regarded fiddle player in his area.