Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

Just heard that one of the finest box players from the Sliabh Luachra Tradition, Johnny O’Leary, taught by the legendary Padraig O’ Keefe has died. Anyone who isn’t convinced that Polkas & Slides are BRILLIANT TUNES should listen to Johnny’s playing, sadly now only available on recordings!
Does anyone have any memories of the great man & his mighty music"
I remember him holding court in one particular bar, all through the ‘Milltowns’ of the late ’70s. You just couldn’t keep your feet still with that man about!!
There’ll be some massive ‘Cloud Ceilis’ from here on in!!!

Re: Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

Oh! oh, dear, dear - what a loss. What a great loss. This is terrible news. I’m sure I won’t be the only one here who is very deeply saddened by this great loss of one of the pillars of the tradition. How sad. I just hope the Sliabh Luachra tradition is robust enough, through his lifelong efforts, to not just survive but continue to grow.
The only recompense is that Johnny had, what might be called in cricketing terms, "A Good Innings." I hope this very "english" term is not taken out of context. Condolences to all here who knew, played or met with Johnny, THE Master of Polka and Slide.

Danny.

Re: Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

I add my tears, for us.He’s well out of it, bless him.

Re: Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

Another icon in the same class as Bobby Casey, Junior Crehan, Micho Russell, etc. Thanks for your massive contribution Johnny and long may you be remembered particularly every time we play the great Kerry polkas and slides - you were talked about tonight at our session when the John Walshe polka was played.

Re: Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

This is very sad news. Johnny was the living tradition. He will be sorely missed.
Love to everyone who loves this music.
Mark

Re: Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

I had the good fortune to play in several sessions with John and will miss him. On the other hand, I’ll quote from a favorite book. This is a Zen student speaking of a beloved teacher whose death she’d had trouble accepting:

"And one day it seemed to bubble up from the very earth I sat on—I heard Roshi’s words. Words he’d repeated often in his lecture, but that I had paid little attention to before. Now I heard them […] I heard his words. I heard them. He was with me again. In my ribs and chest and lungs and face and hair. I carried him in me. He was sitting with me and with the trees and birds. It was so simple."

I’m hearing "The Trooper", in my ribs and chest and lungs and ears and hands. And I’m smiling.

Thanks John.

chris smith

Re: Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

Have been listening to Along Blackwater’s Banks all evening…. :(

Re: Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

See http://www.iol.ie/~terrym/jol.htm for an informative piece on Johnny’s lifetime in music and his connections with Sliabh Luachra legends such as P

Re: Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

Oh thats terrible news. I remember having a few lovely tunes with him in Miltown Malbay many years ago, and at an old age he was still able to belt the tunes out in full swing. What a sad loss to the world of ITM. May he rest in peace.
John C

Re: Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

Sad day.

Re: Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

It comes to us all, sooner or later, and thankfully later in the case of Johnny. The consolation that Johnny has, which will be denied to many of us, is that he goes to the grave a legendary player and a legendary man, as humble as he was gifted. I know that many in the music community eschew the use of words such as "legend"; I’ve little doubt that in Johnny O’Leary’s case few would begrudge him the honour of that title.

Re: Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

I had the pleasure of hearing Johnny play for the dance in Knocknagree twice - in 1999 and 2002 - and talking with him a bit each time. I was planning on going again about three weeks ago, but had heard that he was ill and not playing. He was a lovely, humble person. One time, I heard him say something like, "I’m not a musician, I’m a batterer!" Last night, I listened to "The Trooper" and "Johnny O’Leary of Sliabh Luachra" back to back. He was a musician.

The obituary in the Irish Independent yesterday said that he could play over 1500 tunes. There’s another data point for the discussion of a week or two ago regarding size of repertoire in the days before the proliferation of recordings versus today. Presumably Johnny would have been playing for nearly 40 years before gaining easy access to large numbers of recordings.

Re: Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

Back in 1987 (wow - that’s 17 years ago, time sure flies!) I went to Willie Week for the first time. This was before I ever picked up the flute; I was heavily into set dancing at the time. Unlike now, when there are probably 30 ceilis during the Willie Week, some sponsored by the school and a bunch more over at the Armada, with all manner of famous ceili bands, back in 1987 for the two (or maybe it was three) ceilis they offered that week the band consisted of Johnny O’Leary and a guy playing the snare drum. And you know, from a dancer’s perspective that was more than enough. In fact, it was brilliant. Johnny O’Leary was a master at playing for dancers, which really is the heart and soul of what Irish traditional music is all about.

Over the years as I drifted from the dancing into playing the music myself, I went back to Willie Week many times. Even though I wasn’t dancing much myself, it was always a pleasure to walk past that pub in the middle of town (was it the Wren’s Nest or the Lark’s Nest or something like that?) where Johnny O’Leary held forth night after night playing for the dancers. Just the wisp of sound coming out the door was enough to put a spring in your step.

Several years ago the dance crowd over here in Washington DC brought Johnny O’Leary over with Terry Moylan the dance teacher for some dance workshops. They got off the trans-Atlantic flight on a Monday afternoon and then someone brought Johnny over to our session at Nanny O’Brien’s that night. Between his thick Kerry accent, the jet lag and his advancing age, we couldn’t understand a word he was saying. And, understandably, he seemed a bit tired that night - until he picked up the box and started to play. Then we were all transported back into a time and place most of us had never known. For those brief moments, it was if we were in Dan O’Connell’s pub in the musical heart of Sliabh Luachra.

Johnny was indeed a legend, and sadly we’ll not see his like again…

Re: Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

May Johnny rest in peace. All previous tributes have left me lost for words.

Re: Sad Loss - Another Brilliant ‘Johnny’ musician has left us!!

Another of the links with the past…in so many ways. I’ve been so privileged to have met and played with the musicians from the Sliabh Luacra Tradition, most recently, just before I moved out here. Yes, he will be sorely missed, as a person as much as musician, but his music will live on in and with those who sat with him!

GO nDEANA DIA TROCHAIRE AR A ANAM

Brian +