Paddy Byrne (c.1919-2003)

(c.1919 – 14th May 2003)

Paddy Byrne, Con McGinley (Mín na Croise), c. 1970

Paddy Byrne, Con McGinley (Mín na Croise), c. 1970

Paddy Byrne, a fiddle player and composer of tunes was born in Malin, in the peninsula of Inishowen, County Donegal. His father, John Byrne was a brother of Patrick (Pat the Clock), and Paddy spent a period in the early 1930s living with his uncle in Cill Chathasaigh. He was sent there to learn Irish before attending Saint Eunan’s College in Letterkenny. During his time in Gleann an Bhaile Dhuibh he heard many highly regarded players who were in their musical prime, including Peter Cunningham and Francie Dearg Ó Beirn. Paddy recalled one occasion during a harvest period where there were five big nights in Gleann an Bhaile Dhuibh on the same night. After leaving school, Paddy spent seven years in the merchant navy before emigrating to England, where he settled in Crewe, Cheshire. While working and rearing a family there in the 1950s and 60s, he played in a group along with Con McGinley who lived closeby in Nantwich. Con was originally from Mín na Croise in Gleann Cholmcille, but his mother was from Baile Mhic Pháidín in Gleann an Bhaile Dhuibh. After he retired in England, Paddy moved back to live in the home house in Cill Chathasaigh until he passed away in 2003. Paddy composed various tunes, including a reel known as ‘Around the Rock’ in memory of the fiddler, Francie Dearg Ó Beirn.