Peter Campbell (1900 – 1995)

Peter Campbell (right) with his son, Vincent

Peter was the youngest boy in the family of Charlie (Charlie Chondaí Mhór) and Susan Campbell and was raised in the highest house in Cruach an Airgid. Margaret was the oldest child, then Pat, James, Mary, Condy, Charlie, Peter and Susie and they all grew up in a vibrant music environment where their father, Charlie and many of his siblings played fiddle and lilted. Other notable players in the locality at the time included Hugh O’Donnell and Pat McDevitt. Peter played widely with the fiddler Barney Boyle of Mín na gCuiseog and Peter’s son, Jimmy recalls an occasion where the duet played at a big night in Ardara. In a break between tunes Peter was asked what the name of a particular highland was and he replied Cailíní Ard an Rátha (The girls of Ardara), a name that has lasted to the present day. Peter emigrated to Canada in 1927 and after a couple of years he travelled south to Philadelphia by crossing the US border while hidden in the back of truck transporting oranges. He married Bridget Gallagher of the Croaghs in Philadelphia in 1932 and they decided to return home in 1934 after Peter heard that a house and farm was for sale in An Teanga Mheáin. Bridget returned with their first-born, Charlie, while Peter remained in the USA for a couple of years to work and save enough money for the purchase. They reared a family steeped in fiddle music and the Irish language, coloured and highly influenced by the music and lore of John and Mickey Doherty who were regular visitors to the house. Jimmy, Vincent and Columba, all fiddle players were nurtured in this rich environment while another brother, Josie has a vast and varied knowledge of traditional music in his locality and beyond.

Vincent Campbell plays the highland Cailíní Ard an Rátha