Francie ‘Dearg’ O’Byrne (1904 – 1987)

(23rd December 1904 – 25th June 1987)

Francie 'Dearg' Ó Beirn

Francie ‘Dearg’ Ó Beirn

Franice was born and reared at Caiseal on the coast road to Doire Leathan, to Patrick and Ann Byrne (née Gillespie). A very highly regarded fiddle player, Francie was particularly noted for his rhythmic style, his strong bowing and ornamentation. While he was widely known for his playing partnership with his older brother, Mickey, his highly individual style of playing was influenced by a range of sources. His father played the melodeon and piccolo, while Francie also recalled a vibrant lilting tradition in his youth including his neighbours Anne (Nancy) Carr and her sister, Úna, both of whom lilted with Francie’s aunt, Hannah Byrne at big nights in the locality. He was influenced by travelling bagpipers such as Hiúdaí and Michael Gallagher along with older fiddle players from the parish including Pat Harvey and John Doogan. Furthermore, he spent a period working in Scotland where he picked up a number of tunes, particularly strathspeys which later became part of the repertoire in his native area. Throughout the course of the twentieth century Francie arguably witnessed more technological and social changes than any previous generation and grew up in an era where music was transmitted in the purest form. In later years he was anxious to continue this form of transmission and passed much of his music to among others his son, Pat and grandson, Peter Carr. He was not afraid to express his opinion on music and an insightful account of his life and music can heard on a recording of the RTÉ radio production ‘The Long Note’, first broadcast in 1984, on a cassette tape “Ceol na dTéad” (1992) released by Cló Iar Chonnachta and on the recording ‘The Brass Fiddle’ (1987) released by Claddagh Records.

‘The Cat That Kittled in Jamie’s Wig’, strathspey performed by Francie ‘Dearg’ O’Byrne