Kate Bonar (1904 – 1980)

(23rd October 1904 – 28th April 1980)

Kate Bonar

Kate Bonar

Kate Bonar was the youngest child of a family of ten, all of whom were singers. Kate took up the melodeon at a young age and her first instrument was purchased for her in 1915 at the age of eleven, by an older brother at the fair at An Charraig. Kate learned much of her early music from her mother, Peggy, who was highly regarded locally as a fine lilter. Melodeon players were much in demand for dancing due to their strong sound and rhythm, and from the age of about fourteen Kate played regularly at wedding parties and big nights. She married Francie Haughey and they reared a family in Iomascan. On Sunday afternoons Kate would have informal sessions in her house for local children, where she would pass on tunes and also dances such as highlands and barndances. In later years, Kate learned many of her tunes from the radio. An indication of how much she played was highlighted by her daughter, Mairead’s advice to always carry her melodeon with her, rather than picking it up and leaving it down again. On fine summer evenings, Kate would often play outside the house, where her music would be heard by Christy MacShane, a bagpiper living across the valley in Baile Mhic Pháidín. He would stop his work, take up the bagpipes and play a tune back to Kate. One of her favourite tunes was the reel ‘The Hare in the Corn’.

The Hare in the Corn (Reel) Performed by Kate Bonar