Documentary about Donegal Fiddle Legend John Doherty

John Doherty

Documentary about Donegal Fiddle Legend John Doherty

Film maker Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde and fiddle player Ciarán Ó Maonaigh have made an hour-long documentary film for TG4 on the great Donegal fiddle player John Doherty. John Doherty - Ar Leirg na Gaoithe will be broadcast at 8:30pm on Sunday, 30 December. The comedian Tommy Tiernan said on radio recently that Doherty was one of his favourite musicians, and that if he could live someone else’s life he would chose Doherty’s. 

John Doherty (1900-1980) was a storyteller, tinsmith, singer, and a fiddle player with a virtuosity that made him one of the stand-out musicians in the country. He travelled southwest Donegal, mending pots, pans and pandies by day and playing for the people by night. He rarely travelled outside the county and some of the most famous folk collectors, Alan Lomax, Pete Seeger, Peter Kennedy of the BBC and  Séamus Ennis amongst them, came to find and record him. As described by David Hammond in Ulster Folk News, Vol 4: Doherty was ‘heir to a family tradition that we can trace back to the eighteenth century through the Mac Sweeneys, McConnells, Gallaghers and the Dohertys themselves. In the generations that John was able to relate in his own genealogy there were singers, lilters, pipers and fiddlers in abundance, a remarkable concentration of musicianship that affords continuity, authenticity and virtuosity.’ 

In his lifetime there was a documentary film made on his life by UTV called ‘Fiddler on the Road’, an amazing historical document to look back on now. Now a generation after his death, fiddle player Ó Maonaigh presents a look back at who John Doherty was, what it was that he had that intrigued so many people, how he spent his life and how his music has survived today. This hour-long documentary, made in entirely in Donegal by Éabhlóid, includes previously unseen archive footage: pieces of film that were resurrected from the cutting room floor of UTV’s archive as well as Super 8 footage in colour of Donegal in the 40’s and 50’s in HD that brings to life the old ways of living from the that era. There are contributions from Paddy Glackin, Dermot McLaughlin, Packie Manus Byrne, Danny Meehan, the Campbells, Caoimhín Mac Aoidh, Fidil, Paul Anderson and Alun Evans amongst others.

John Doherty - Ar Leirg na Gaoithe will be broadcast on TG4 at 8:30pm on Sunday 30 of December.

Published on 19 December 2012

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