Mickey ‘Bán’ O’Byrne (1899 – 1980)

(22nd June 1899 – 12th December 1980)

Mickey 'Bán' (left) and Francie 'Dearg' Ó Beirn

Mickey ‘Bán’ (left) and Francie ‘Dearg’ O’Byrne

One of seven children born and raised at Caiseal, Mickey was nurtured in a strong local music tradition of lilting and fiddle playing. Mickey would also have heard travelling players and older Cill Charthaigh fiddlers including Pat Harvey and John Doogan. Though widely recognised as a fiddler, Mickey was also a poet and storyteller. Much of his repertoire was edited by Mícheál Mac Giolla Easbuic and published in 2008 titled ‘Ón tSeanam Anall’. A lifelong playing partner of his younger brother, Francie, the level of their musical understanding was reflected in their habit of standing back to back while playing, a stance developed in crowded house dances where space was limited. He was the more understated player in the partnership and usually “reversed” the tune on the lower octave while Francie was regarded as the more dominant player. As well as his partnership with Francie, on occasion Mickey played with a group from Gleann Cholmcille which included Paddy and Eddie O’Gara from Mín na bhFachrán. He was also a member of the local Pipe Band where he was a drummer for many years. Mickey was a neat worker and maintained the family farm along with Francie.

An Buinneán Buí‘ (Slow Air) performed by Mickey ‘Bán’ and Francie ‘Dearg’ O’Byrne