THERE was great sadness among the music community of West Kerry as news broke last week of the passing of the great musician, singer and poet Tony Small.
A member of the legendary Wild Geese trad group who toured extensively throughout Europe, Tony arrived in Dingle in the 1980s, initially to record an album with locally based fellow Wild Geese Peadar O hUallaigh and uileann piper Eoin Duignan. Like many others, he found it hard to leave West Kerry and soon moved there, becoming one of the most prominent figures on Dingle's thriving trad music scene. He was well known and loved throughout the county and beyond.
Tony, who had returned to his native Galway in more recent times, maintained his strong links with Dingle. Just last November he released his latest album 'Mandolin Mountain', which was engineered and produced in West Kerry by Donogh Hennessy. Tony's long time friend and wellknown Dingle piper Eoin Duignan and singer Pauline Scanlon - who started out her career singing with Tony - both feature on the CD.
"Tony was a friend of my Mom's and she mentioned she had a young one at home who was into singing and he really took me under his wing," Pauline told The Kerryman. "He imparted his repertoire of songs to me - he really gave me an education. We all loved him - he was such an inspiration and a mentor. We just loved singing together, he was amazing and we will miss him so much." Local tributes have since been bountiful for Tony, a man who has been described has "an amazing talent", "one of Ireland's greatest singer songwriters" and "one of the most genuine people in the music industry."
"Tony was one of the first musicians that I performed with proper and he gave myself, my sister Deirdre and my brother Cuan many performing opportunities even while we were still at school," musician and singer Aoife Granville said. "I will always remember his encouraging nature."
"A genuine gentleman with enormous integrity, who communicated the world as he saw it in words and melodies that will be relevant for many years to come" said Joan Maguire from Dingle who managed the Wild Geese in Ireland.
Tony reposed at Irwin's Funeral Home on Tuesday January 22 before being removed to St. Oliver Plunkett Church. Following Requiem Mass on Wednesday January 23, he was laid to rest in the New Cemetery, Bohermore, Galway.