Charlie Patton (1932-2002)

Charlie PattonBallinacor, Killygordon 

Compiled by Martin McGinley. Uploaded 6.10.20

Most of the information is from MacAoidh, C. (1994) Between the Jigs and the Reels: The Donegal Fiddle Tradition, Manorhamilton, Drumlin Publications. A second edition of the book is due out shortly.


Charlie Patton grew up in Ballinacor, Killygordon, the son of Patrick and Mary Ann (née McPhilemy). 

Mary Ann, born in 1905, was originally from a musical family from outside Castlederg. Her mother played concertina and her two brothers were fiddlers. Mary Ann had a passion for the fiddle and became well-known in traditional music in East Donegal, playing for house dances. She played with many of the musicians on the thriving local music scene. As MacAoidh comments: “Unlike other women of her generation, she does not appear to have given up playing altogether during her child-bearing years.”

Mary Ann died at 87 in 1993. Her husband Patrick died aged 75 in 1980.

One of Charlie Patton’s most vivid musical memories from his early years was hearing a fiddler called Eddie Lynch play at Aghyaran Parochial Hall. Eddie was a very good player from Carrycaughan, Killeter. 

At the age of 12 Charlie started playing fiddle himself under the guidance of his mother.

Charlie was friendly with many fiddlers and other musicians in the local area, and then began travelling to sessions and fleadhs. He was a regular at the Wednesday night session in the Central Hotel in Raphoe in the 1970s and 1980s.

It was around this time that he struck up a well-remembered playing partnership with Danny O’Donnell from Dungloe, who was living in Ballybofey after spells in Scotland and the US. 

Charlie also had an active interest in fiddle-making and repairing fiddles. 

Charlie Patton was a highly-regarded player with a sweet, relaxed style which favoured melodic tunes laced with his characteristic left-hand ornamentation. After he died, a CD was released of recordings of his playing, with accompaniment added from the fiddler, pianist and composer Charlie Lennon.



Charlie Patton – Donegal mazurkas