James Byrne (1946 – 2008)
(4th January 1946 – 8th November 2008)
Without doubt, James Byrne (An Bheirneach) of Mín na Croise was one of the finest traditional fiddle players in Ireland. Along with his musical talent, he had great background knowledge of both the tunes and the musicians in south-west Donegal. As a boy, James learned from and played with many of the older players in his locality in particular John Phadaí Chonchobhair, Paddy Hiúdaí Byrne and of course his own father, John. The playing of the travelling fiddler and tinsmith John Doherty may also have influenced his style of playing. James as a young boy of eight years first saw Doherty play on stage in Halla Mhuire in An Caiseal.
The family tradition of fiddle playing looks set to continue as he has passed on the music to his partner Connie and their family. Many other fiddlers have also benefited from James’ teaching of music and the lore associated with it. As well as teaching many local children, most of todays finest exponents of the Donegal fiddle tradition gratefully acknowledge James’ important influence on their musical development.
Some of James’ music is available on the CD’s
The Brass Fiddle – Claddagh – (CC44CD) – Compilation
The Road to Glenlough – Claddagh – (CC52CD) – solo (with guests)
The Fiddle Music of Donegal Vol 2 – Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí (CNF002)
Ríl Mhín na Saileach Performed by James Byrne