Paddy McDyer (1879 – 1935)

There are no photographs or recordings of Paddy McDyer, but we can safely assume from various accounts that he was both a brilliant individual fiddle player who was also highly sought after as a dance fiddler. He set the bar high and those who heard him play often ‘guided’ younger players with the phrase ‘that’s not how McDyer played it’. The McDyer family arrived in Kilraine, Glenties in the early 1700s and later dispersed throughout south and west Donegal, including the descendants of Paddy McDyer who settled in Edenamuck. It was said that he could provide the music for an entire night at local dance halls completely on his own, and he regularly tuned up to E flat to further enhance both volume and tone. Paddy regularly walked from Edenamuck over the Blue Stack Mountains to Glenfin to play at big nights, sometimes in the company of fellow fiddler, Patrick Haughey. A report from the Derry Journal in 1904 provides an account of the annual pilgrimage on the first Sunday of June to the top of Carnaween mountain. Natives from the parishes of Inver,  Inishkeel and Killymard tracked to the summit and the dance music was provided by just one fiddler; Paddy McDyer. A carpenter by trade, he spent time in the USA and was apparently  booked to record a 78 rpm record in New York. He was asked to extinguish a cigarette in the recording studio but unfortunately Paddy refused and marched out!

George Williamson & Charlie O’Neill referring to Paddy McDyer (rec. by Marie Burns, 1985)