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A master of music at work

The Archives: Looking back at the life and times of Seamus Ennis who did so much to record and detail Irish music folklore for the generations

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Seamus Ennis

Seamus Ennis

The Seamus Ennis Centre honours the great man today

The Seamus Ennis Centre honours the great man today

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Seamus Ennis

October 1982 - Friends and neighbours of the late Seamus Ennis crowded into the tiny Church of the Nativity in the Naul, Co. Dublin, last night as his remains were brought home to the village he loved.

Many of the people stood in the rain for almost an hour to greet the cortege, which was delayed in heavy traffic-on its journey from St. Vincent's Hospital, Elm Park. . The renowned piper had been in failing health for some time. He died in his sleep aged 63 last Tuesday. . He is survived by his wife, Margaret, daughter Catherine, a noted organ soloist, and son Christopher, a London-based accountant, his brothers Cormac and Desmond, and his sisters Barbara: and Mrs. Ursula. Molloy.

He was one of Ireland's best known traditional musicians and characters. He performed musical miracles with the uilleann pipes, was not only a musician but a compiler, linguist, story teller and singer. Fortunately he has committed most of his work, collections and performances to tape and disc.

He could have remained in a "safe iob" in the Folklore Commission colting recordings from the old people, the pipers, singers and story tellers. He did so for several years but then was given an opportunity to broadcast on RTE.

Around 1947 the BBC were becoming interested in folklore and Mr. Ennis was asked to join their permanent recording library staff, spending several years compiling material in England, Scotland and Wales. This became the basis for a famous series "As I Roved Out-", which had a wide listenership in these islands.

Seamus Ennis had a great way with people, being a convivial person who refused to be hurried by the ways of this world. He wasn't one who would have made a fortune out of his talents.

An oration at the graveside was delivered by the broadcaster Sean Mac Reamonn in which he paid tribute in both English and Irish to the sincerity of the 63-year-old musician. This was followed by a lament - "Cois Abainn na Sead" - played by Liam Og OFloinn on a set of uileann pipes given to him by Mr. Ennis.

The Taoiseach, Mr. Haughey, was represented at the funeral by his ADC, Comdt Christopher Leaney. But it was the faces of musicians who had come to pay the last respects to their friend that were most prominent.

Paddy Moloney, Kevin Cunniffe and Matt Molloy of the Chieftains were there; as were Paul Brady. Martin Talty. Muiris ORochan from Clare, the Glacken family from Donegal, the fiddler Martin Byrnes and the American piper Denis Brooks. The Dublin uileann piper maker Matt, Kiernan also attended as did the RTE producer and accordeonist Tony McMahon.

After the recital and a decade of the Rosary in Irish, Mr. Mac Reamonn delivered his oration at the graveside. He said Seamus Ennis was always true to himself and his music and when he took a piece of music from Ulster or any part of the country, he ensured it lost none of its local qualities in his playing.

Fingal Independent