Paddy Jones, Sliabh Luachra Fiddle Player and Teacher, RIP

The late Paddy Jones (1947 – 2020) in a still from a video chat we had in Knightsmountain back in 2016. ©Photograph: John Reidy 22-10-2016.                                         Click on the image to see the video.

The death has occurred of Paddy Jones, Sliabh Luachra Fiddle Player, Knightsmountain, Knocknagoshel and late of Kilcusnan, Castleisland, Co. Kerry.

Peacefully, on May 30th 2020, surrounded by his loving family at the Bon Secours Hospital, Tralee.

Sadly missed by his loving partner Rose, his children: Deirdre, Reuben, Sarah and their mother Teresa, his adored grandchildren: Kane, Ethan, Abigail, Jake, Luke and Amber, his cherished great-grandson Kayden, brothers: Mike, Tom, J.J., Denny and Dan, sisters: Mary and Sheila, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours and a large circle of friends.

Predeceased by his parents John and Catherine and his infant daughters.

Date Published: Sunday 31st May 2020. Date of Death: Saturday 30th May 2020.

May His Gentle Soul Rest In Peace.

A Guard of Honour

A private family funeral will take place for Paddy on Tuesday morning, June 2nd at 9.30am. Paddy’s funeral will leave Tangney’s Funeral Home, Castleisland, via Church Street and Main Street for the benefit of musicians who may wish to play a tune in tribute and farewell and anyone who would like to stand in a guard of honour.

The hearse will then proceed to Cork for a private cremation.

Date Published: Sunday 31st May 2020. Date of Death: Saturday 30th May 2020.

A Gulf of Genuine Saddness

As the passing of Paddy Jones (73) was well flagged since the end of March – even by himself – there was no shock when his hour of destiny arrived at 11am on Saturday morning.

The absence of shock left a gulf for the sadness that followed the news which spread like lightning throughout the traditional music fraternity around the world.

From Moscow to Meet Paddy

Paddy’s wide-spread influence in that ever expanding world was underlined for us here in 2015 when classically trained violinist now traditional fiddle player, Anton Zila travelled from his home in Moscow to Castleisland for the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival and specifically to meet Paddy Jones.

Anton also dedicated and played a tune and sent wishes to Paddy only last month during the world wide virtual gathering for World Fiddle Day Scartaglin.

Dedication to the Music

Paddy was presented with the Dedication to the Music of Sliabh Luachra Award during the Castleisland based Patrick O’Keeffe festival in 2016 and his deeds of dedication were scored through by services rendered to the music for most of his life.

As well as a highly respected player, Paddy was a teacher of the music he loved and that’s where his lasting legacy lies.

Finest Tribute Possible

In doing so he probably paid the finest tribute possible to the Glountane master himself, Patrick O’Keeffe as he also travelled the world extensively with touring groups in both easterly and westerly directions.

Though he often cited his discovery of the 1969 released long-playing record ‘The Star Above the Garter’ as his moment of awakening to a true appreciation of the music of his own area, he always paid tribute to his teacher, Patrick O’Keeffe – whom he described as a ‘grand old gentleman.’

Quest for Knowledge

I don’t think there is anything in this wide world that Paddy didn’t deeply understand – anything he put his mind to – that is. He built his own range and heating system from scratch and scraps in his home in Knightsmountain – for example.

He approached anything else he did with that same level of appreciation and knowledge of its place in his world.

His innate sense of curiosity drove his quest for knowledge and perfection and he loved and understood the music he played and the instrument he played it on with a depth that can only be described as forensic.

Look at That – He’d Say

‘Look at that,’ he’d say with a shake of his head and a genuine sense of wonder on learning something new.

He spent an hour or so with me in a darkroom one evening years ago and he knew all about its workings but had never seen it in action. To see the images coming up in the tray of developer was a source of great fascination to him.

The next time I met him he gave me a break-down on the chemical content of the process and that I could be using vinegar as a development  arresting agent instead of the more pungent, branded one I had. And that was long before Google or anything like it.

Peter Browne Interview from 2005

On Christmas night 2005 RTÉ producer / presenter Peter Browne broadcast an interview he did with Paddy at the O’Keeffe festival in Castleisland on the previous October.

In the course of a highly entertaining interview Paddy told Peter Browne that grappling with the complexities of music was ‘like tying your shoe laces and shaving – at the same time.

There is a lot of footage of Paddy from various events in recent years. Eoin Stan O’Sullivan from Newmarket did a fine series of chats with him only last year.

Irish Traditional Music Archive

On the opening night of the 2019 festival in Castleisland, local videographer, Elaine Prendiville shot the interview by Peter Browne of  ‘ Patrick’s Pupils’  which included Paddy, Maida Sugrue and Martin O’Connor.  That footage is now destined for the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin as will Eoin Stan’s – I presume.

One lovely day in October 2016 I called to Paddy in Knightsmountain and he agreed to let me bring a camera with me and you can see some of the footage which was later included in a short piece about the O’Keeffe festival in general, by clicking here.

Beidh Lá Eile Againn

Sincere condolences to all his family members, mentioned above and to his friends everywhere – the majority of whom won’t be able to or be allowed to attend his funeral services.

But there will be another day and and more nights – as the man himself suggested – whenever we get back to some semblance of safety and normality of living again.

There will be a bit of planning involved in a proper tribute to one who gave so much to the world in which our music lives and thrives. All hands will be on deck and, as the late Mike Kenny would say: All sails aloft.  I’ve a feeling it will be worth waiting for.

May God be good to him.