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Paddy Fahey

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Paddy Fahey (or Fahy, 22 August 1916[1] – 31 May 2019) was an Irish composer and fiddler who was considered one of the finest living composers[1] of tunes that are in the style of traditional Irish music.

Fahey is from Kilconnell in East Galway. His music has a distinctive yearning, magical quality often referred to as "Draíocht".[2] His music has been recorded by many of the finest traditional Irish musicians including Martin Hayes, Planxty, John Carty and Kevin Burke. In recent years, a few recordings featured Fahey's music prominently including recordings by Liz and Yvonne Kane and Breda Keville.[citation needed]

Fahey was something of an enigma in the traditional Irish music world in that he has never made a commercial recording despite the fact that he is an exceptional fiddler; nor has he published a book of his compositions. There are some privately made recordings of Fahey which have been distributed among musicians since the 1970s, and transcriptions of his tunes are found in many tune collections and on Internet resources such as www.thesession.org.[3]

Fahey never gave his compositions names; instead they tend to be simply named "Paddy Fahey's Reel No.1", "Paddy Fahey's Jig No.2", etc. His known compositions number around 60 tunes, all of which are either jigs, reels or hornpipes.[citation needed]

In 2001 Fahey was named Composer of The Year by Irish Language TV station TG4 at their annual award ceremony 'Gradam Ceoil TG4'. The award ceremony incorporated an extremely rare public performance with Paddy appearing alongside fellow fiddler Paddy Canny, harpist Máire Ní Chathasaigh, the band Altan and others.[4]

He died in May 2019 at the age of 102.[5][6]

Literary sources[edit]

  • Vallely, Fintan (ed.), The Companion to Traditional Irish Music. Cork University Press, Cork, 1999
  • Holohan, Maria. The Tune Compositions of Paddy Fahey. MA Thesis, University of Limerick, 1995


  1. ^ a b "Galway Sessions 2014, 15-22 June" (PDF).
  2. ^ Chulrua.com Archived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine: "Draíocht is a Gaelic word meaning 'spiritual power' or 'soul.'"
  3. ^ "Traditional Irish music on The Session". thesession.org.
  4. ^ "Finale - Altan & Gradam Recipients | Gradam Ceoil TG4 2001". Archived from the original on 15 December 2021 – via www.youtube.com.
  5. ^ "An fidléir cáiliúil Paddy Fahey tar éis bháis". 31 May 2019 – via www.rte.ie. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "Death Notice of Paddy Fahey". rip.ie.

External links[edit]