RIP Fiddle-player Brendan McGlinchey

Brendan McGlinchey

RIP Fiddle-player Brendan McGlinchey

Renowned fiddle-player, composer and teacher passes away.

The renowned Irish fiddle-player Brendan McGlinchey has passed away aged 79 in Sussex, England.

Born in 1940 in Armagh, McGlinchey began learning fiddle at the age of 12 from local teacher John Conway, followed by Archie Collins in Portadown. At 15, McGlinchey won a competition at the Dungannon Feis and was subsequently asked by ceili band leader Malachy Sweeney to join his band, which he toured with for two years. In 1956 broadcaster Ciarán MacMathúna recorded McGlinchey solo at the Ennis Fleadh for RTÉ and this further raised the fiddler’s profile.

McGlinchey moved to London for work when he was eighteen, returning to Ireland periodically, but eventually settling in England, working as a psychiatric nurse, and playing with musicians such as Roger Sherlock, Bobby Casey, Máirtín Byrne, Finbar Dwyer and Joe Burke. In 1964 in Ireland, he won the ‘Champion of Champions’ Fleadh competition in Clones and in 1974 he released the album Music of a Champion accompanied by Mary Mulholland on piano. He took a break from playing in the late 70s but returned to the scene in the early 1990s and taught annually at the Willie Clancy Summer School for almost twenty years. He also taught at Scoil Éigse as part of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann and at the Joe Mooney Summer School in Drumshanbo.

Brendan McGlinchey with fiddle-players Joe Ryan and Kathleen Smith at the Willie Clancy Summer School in 1997 (Photo: Éamon McGivney)

McGlinchey composed many tunes, the most well known of which are ‘Splendid Isolation’, ‘Sweeney’s Buttermilk’ and ‘The Floating Crowbar’. 

He is survived by his wife Margaret and his three children Sarah, Helen and Mary Ann.

Published on 27 April 2020

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