REMEMBER DES DONNELLY
plus John Roe, piano
Leo Donnelly, guitar
DES DONNELLY from Lacca, Fintona, Co Tyrone was tragically killed in Manchester on 12th June 1973 in a building site accident. On this day Irish music lost one of its most exciting performers.
Des had just returned from London and because of the reception he had got there planned to make fiddle playing his future.
At 40 he was in his musical prime and steadily gaining recognition as the man who could set audiences alight.
Des' interest in music began at a very early age. His father was a fiddle player who also made a fiddle. The family was big - eleven children, five of whom turned out to be musicians. From time to time it became necessary for the young Donnellys to emigrate and eventually six brothers settled in Manchester, England. Frank,( Dezi's Father) the oldest brother and also a good fiddle player, died there only a couple at years after Des‘ passing.
At all the major traditional events in Britain, Des was a regular. With him was usually his brother Dermot. Once when recalling such an occasion Dermot in his distinct Tyrone accent said. “Oh, I mind the day well. That was the day our fella lost the championship." However. he got it back and was the all-Britain champion tor the three years before his death.
This recording is not the best of Des Donnelly, but unfortunately it is all we have. It is a reproduction of old tapes made when neither the atmosphere nor the equipment contributed to top performance. When playing at his best the tape recorders were always in operation but — in the words ot Charlie Byrne ~ “he caused a Gleo' that destroyed the recordings."
While we apologise for the recording we hope the listener will appreciate the style and vigour with which Des approached his music
“I take chances and make things up," he once said.
The “make up" was always different and this is what made him so exciting, It is also hoped that there are better recordings which will come to the surface as a result of this albon. Above all, we hope the disc will be a pleasing memorial for Des’ widow‘ Maeve and her young family in Manchester.
This production is the result of much endeavour at all stages by Alan O'Leary. We also appreciate the advice and technical assistance of
Dave Pegg (Fairport Convention) and Ralph McTell, Billy O'Connor and
Con Sweeney sent tapes from Donegal From which we got the unaccompanied items. Also Rob Chilcott for his iconic artwork, we only had i photograph to work with, also Lawrence Burridge who edited and mastered the original tapes, both provided their talents pro bono. Also at a later stage Antoine Pezet and Eddie McGrath, we thank theme all for their kindness.
The major contributor was however by Londoner John Roe. John was introduced to lrish music while at school in Battersea and became a fervent follower. Later, while a student at Manchester University he inevitably got involved With Des Donnelly, All the piano accompaniment is by John Roe and this constitutes the greater part of the record. Were it not for John's recording and his tape the task could not have been undertaken. The guitar accompaniment is by Des' brother, Leo Donnelly. Delighted to report the Donnelly fiddling style has been carried on by Des's son and nephews, most notable nephew Dezi, who seems to have fully inherited Des's style.
" I knew Des back in the late 60s and had a few sessions with him around Middleton in Manchester…I was shocked to hear of his tragic death…so many good men lost on the sites…a beautiful fiddle player and a gentle man", Christy Moore
Track 1: The Orange Rogue
Track 2: Bonnie Kate
Track 3: The Flogging Reel
- Jackie Coleman's / Sean sa Cheo
- Miss McLeod's
- The Kilfenora / Tatter Jack Walsh
- The Salamanca / Crowley's
- The Orange Rogue
- The Spey in Spate / Bonny Kate
- Andy McGann's / The Maid Behind The Bar
- The Star / The Sunshine HPs
- Last Night's Fun / Reel of Rio
- First Day of Summer / The Templehouse
- The Thatched Cabin
- Paidin O'Rafartaigh
- Colonel Fraser
- Barn Dance / The Mountain Road
- Mulcahy's / The Cork HPs
- The Frost Is All Over
- The Flogging Reel / Maud Miller / Sean Maguires