John Byrne (1941 – 2011)
(June 1941 – 7th April 2011)
John (Johnny) Byrne was born and raised in a family steeped in traditional music and song at An Chógais in 1941, the sixth child of Edward and Margaret. Edward, a melodeon player and dancer, passed on the music tradition to each of his eight children including Francie, the eldest and Johnny. Francie, a highly regarded traditional singer and past bagpiper with Saint Cartha’s Pipe Band, still resides in the home house at An Chógais. Johnny would have been strongly influenced by the generation of older players in the area while growing up in the 1940s and 1950s including his father, Edward, Patrick and James Gallagher, Cró na Roda and Peter and John Cunningham of An Seanach. John Cunningham who lived in the home house at An Seanach probably had the biggest influence on Johnny’s early fiddle playing. While still in his teenage years, Johnny travelled on occasion to Halla Mhuire in Gleann Cholmcille in the company of some of the finest players from the parish including Peter Cunningham, Con Dorrian and Francie Dearg and Mickey Bán Ó Beirn to play at big nights organised by Father McDyer. Johnny had fond memories of these nights, meeting many of the fiddlers of Gleann Cholmcille such as Mick Carr and the young James Byrne. Johnny later moved to Dublin and joined the Gardaí Síochana where he rose to the rank of Sergeant. Though married and settled in Rathfarnham, Dublin, Johnny returned home regularly to Cill Charthaigh where he played in local sessions.
Highland Performed by John Byrne