The renowned fiddler Eugene O’Donnell, who spent much of his life in Philadelphia but has been back living in Derry since 1995, was honoured at a special lunchtime event in the Culturlann in Derry today.
Eugene, an outstanding player and reckoned to be the best Irish dancer in the world in the late 50s, made many recordings and toured extensively after his move to Philadelphia in 1957.
Musicians who turned out to pay tribute to him in front of a full house included his former bandmates Mick Moloney, one of the best-known Irish musicians and academics in the US; Seamus Egan, also US-based, who tours the world with the band Solas; Grammy-nominated fiddler Liz Carroll from Chicago; and Derry musicians Dermot McLaughlin, Frank Gallagher, Marcas O’Murchu, Maurice Bradley and Paddy McCafferty.
Video - a little shaky and dark from inside the Culturlann, but a glimpse of the man himself and the warm reception he got from a big crowd at lunchtime today as part of NAFCo 2012 (lots happening until Sunday night - see www.nafco2012.com.
The musicians on stage are, from left, Marcas O’Murchu, Derry; Seamus Egan of Solas and the well-known musician and academic Mick Moloney, both living in the US and former bandmates of Eugene’s; the renowned Chicago fiddler Liz Carroll; Dermot McLaughlin, Derry and Dublin; Peter Tracey, Derry; Maurice Bradley, Six Towns, County Derry; Frank Gallagher, Derry and London; and Paddy McCafferty, Derry.
Derry Journal editor Martin McGinley snatched a few words with the man of the moment back stage just after the event, and began by asking him about his memories of playing for ceilis growing up in Derry.
You can listen by clicking here
There’s a transcript of a much more extensive interview with Eugene, recorded in Philly in 1976, at www.thedigitalfolklife.org/eugene.htm
Eugene O’Donnell tribute - Listen here to what happened at the Eugene O’Donnell tribute event in the Culturlann in Derry this afternoon. Mick Moloney’s doing most of the talking about his times with Eugene in Philadelphia, and there are tunes from Liz Carroll and the Derry contingent . ..