Tommy Peoples, from St. Johnston in East Donegal, was born in Letterkenny in 1948, into a musical family . His grandfather, Jimmy Peoples, his uncles Mattha and George Peoples and some cousins such as Joe Cassidy and Bob Peoples were fiddle players.
Tommy’s father Tom, while not known as a fiddle player had learned a few tunes on fife from his father Jimmy’s fiddling and kept Tommy right in his first few attempts at playing. Tommy learned mainly from an older cousin of his, Joe Cassidy. He visited Joe from about the age of seven years old and these lessons continued for a few years.
Tommy attended St.Eunan’s College, Letterkenny as a boarder having won a scholarship. This was regarded as quite prestigious at the time. Tommy’s passion for fiddle playing though was much greater than his drive for the academic life.
After schooling was over Tommy went to Dublin and had a variety of jobs, including working as a policeman for a while. In the middle years of the 1970’s Tommy played with The Bothy Band for a while. This band’s influence is still strong on the traditional music scene 30 years later.
Tommy lived in Co. Clare for some time working for the Co. Council, playing music and raising his family. His daughter, Siobhan Peoples, is a very well known fiddle player. Another member of the St. Johnston Peoples’ clan is Séamus Gibson, a tremendous fiddle player, who is a nephew of Tommy.
There are several recordings of Tommy Peoples available on CD. Tommy is now back living, playing and composing tunes in Donegal. A lot of Tommy’s tunes have been recorded by himself and many others. In addition to being an excellent player, Séamus Gibson has composed many very fine tunes also.
Tommy was awarded a painting as recognition of his great contribution to Donegal fiddle playing by Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí.