Veteran fiddler still making sweet music – on eve of 100th birthday

Tom Quinn from Ballinasloe joined old friends to perform at the Taibhdhearc last Sunday – a full eighty years after he first played there. Tom will celebrate his 100 birthday on February 24.

One of Ireland’s oldest fiddle players was in flying form at the Taibhdhearc on Sunday last – on the eve of his 100th birthday and a full 80 years after he first played there.

Tom Quinn of Ballinasloe will be celebrating his centenary on Sunday week, February 24 – and he kicked off the festivities in suitable fashion with a fiddle in hand, surrounded by friends and family.  Tom and his fellow musicians were performing in the Taibhdhearc last Sunday to help raise funds for the Galway Fleadh Cheoil, which this year takes place in Headford.

Tom, who is originally from Athenry, has had a great love for Irish traditional music all his life, having started the fiddle around the age of 14. He studied his craft under Jack Mulkere, the legendary south Galway fiddle player.

“Jack Mulkere was based in Crusheen and he used to cycle all the way from Crusheen to Athenry to give the lessons in fiddle and dance,” said Tom’s son Tom Quinn Jr.

“But when he couldn’t make it to Athenry he’d go to Craughwell, so my father would have to cycle from Athenry to Craughwell to meet him.”

It wasn’t long before Tom was putting the skills he learned to the test in the dancehalls and pubs of the west, having performed with numerous groups throughout the forties and fifties, during the golden years of the Céilí Band.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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