THE last surviving member of the Dubliners, John Sheahan, has paid tribute to the late legendary musician and storyteller Paddy 'Pecker' Dunne.
Dunne (80), whose nickname 'Pecker' came from his banjo-playing style, died on Wednesday night in Ennis General Hospital, having suffered ill health in recent years.
Sheahan said the Dubliners were among his fans, covering his composition 'Sullivan's John'.
He said: "Pecker Dunne was a giant of a man who looked like he came from another age. With a face like it was carved out of granite and a big voice to match, he did what he did without any pretence, like one of the old ballad singers that would turn up at fairs around Ireland selling their penny ballads and singing their songs."
Songwriter Shay Healy, who produced his only album, 1976's 'Introducing Pecker Dunne', told yesterday how the Traveller struggled with settled life. "I asked him once how he felt about being settled, and he said: 'How can a man wake up every morning, and look out the window and see the one tree'," said Healy.
Dublin City Councillor Mannix Flynn, who organised a gala benefit concert for Dunne during the 2012 Temple Bar Trad Festival, described him as "the last connection to the traditional music handed down from the Travelling community".
Paddy Dunne was born in a horse-drawn caravan in Castlebar, Co Mayo, on April 1, 1933. Living in London for many years, he settled in Killimer, Co Clare, in the late 1980s. Woody Guthrie and Bono were just some of those he met over his career.