Death of Tony McMahon

Death of Tony McMahon

Sad to hear of the passing of Tony McMahon. I never met the man but I think he suffered from Parkinson’s in later years. A grand box player. May he rest in peace…

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So sorry to read this. What a player! I saw him playing with David Power at Celtic Connections a few years ago. He was struggling with Parkinson’s, but still a grand player.

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Not just a great player himself, but a tireless promoter and advocate for the best of traditional music. RIP.

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Sad news indeed. R.I.P. Tony MacMahon.

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Scith a ligean

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Source? I don’t see a death notice online yet, nor any media reports on it

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RIP Tony one of the all time greats, a lovely gentleman and friend since I was a child. He gave driocht to our music and added great depth.

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RIP Tony - thanks for the link Trish, nice clip of him playing with Steve Cooney. Anyone know if Tony played B/C or C#/D?

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He was a great B/C player back in the early 60’ when I first met him, he changed to C#/D and also D/D#.

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Thanks goose.

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He is a huge loss. He spawned a few imitators ’ so at least his style will live on. May he rest in peace.

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Genuinely saddened to hear this. Tony MacMahon’s playing was a huge part of what got me into playing this music in the first place, especially his collaboration with Noel Hill. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

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Here’s the statement on Tony McMahon’s passing from Irish president Michael D. Higgins:

https://president.ie/en/media-library/news-releases/statement-from-president-michael-d-higgins-on-the-death-of-tony-mcmahon

"It is with great sadness that the music community will have heard of the passing of Tony McMahon, one of Ireland’s iconic presences among musicians.

Tony brought to performance in so many forms, places and venues the talent of a maestro. To hear him play Port Na bPúcai, for example, was to feel transported into another world. His commitment to traditional music and to the friendship of his fellow musicians was full of integrity.

On behalf of Sabina and myself, agus mar Uachtarán na hÉireann on behalf of the people of Ireland, may I send my deepest condolences to Tony’s family and friends, and to the wider music community at home and abroad.

Suaimhneas síoraí."

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A staunch proponent of the music, and the backbone of some iconic recordings… He will be missed. RIP Tony.

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Apart from his great music, I respected Tony MacMahon for speaking his mind, and he was a man well able to back his opinions up. His passing is a great loss to traditional Irish music. RIP.
https://youtu.be/ThxECxTDLVA

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Shocked and saddened to hear this. A truly great box player.

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"Eternal rest grant onto Tony McMahon, Oh Lord. May his soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace, Amen" translated from An Gaeilge, a prayer for the departed.

Not only an exponent of the music, but a producer of some of the best footage about the tradition today on the internet. His passing creates a great void in the industry as it now stands

@Kenny posting. With the prevalence of global instant media coverage, there is debate about cultural authenticity. Irish folk music it is claimed is neither ‘traditional’ nor ‘Irish’ - because some exponents aren’t native composing music to sell as Irish traditional; thereby robbing it of its local flavor. Tony (RIP) shares this point of view.

However the other view is that it does not matter who, or how, it is promoted just so long as Ireland benefits, replies Gay Byrne (RIP).

Well neither prevents me from enjoying jamming this lovely music, can’t see any reason why not! After all, no permission is required to play Blues or Bluegrass, besides who should I ask? Like would that be the local Tune Commissar? or Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann?

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What piece of music were Tony McMahon and Gay Byrne discussing in Kenny’s posting above? It would have been useful to hear it - I assume it was some Riverdance-y thing

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Whatever it was, probably some commercial rubbish with lots of bodhrans and "backers" taking centre stage. My money would be on Tony every time. A true lover and protector of our great traditional music.

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The full clip is on youtube somewhere. As I recall, the band was quite good in its way - and the kind of thing I imagine many here would have no objection to. With the disclaimer that I watched it, and listened to TM’s assessment, many years ago …..

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I don’t think it was any band. I never did see the whole programme, but I think what MacMahon was commenting on was a set of reels played by Eileen Ivers, very much in her own, original style.
The programme started much discussion within the Irish traditional music community at the time, and led to "The Crossroads Conference" in Dublin in 1996.
"Nikonimages", I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.

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I think you’re wrong about that, Kenny (i.e., that he’s responding to Eileen Eivers). But until someone finds a longer clip, there’s not much more I can say …. TM does seem to have said something about Eivers somewhere, as there are references to such here and there …….

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What a totally very special musician he was.

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Thank you ‘briantheflute’ for sharing Tony’s account about the video posted by Kenny. Excuse the interpretation I offered, Kenny, may not make much sense to some. I leave a couple of quotations from his excellent work linked above which gives some direction and enlightenment to me too. Thank you.

"Where can a place be found here for the spirit of the authentic solo performer from West Cork or South Armagh, in this Hiberno-Jazz scrubbed clean of roots, ritual and balls!"

" I just don’t think it’s ethical to use the name and fame of Irish Traditional Music as a crutch or as a substitute for what cannot otherwise be achieved in the popular music market."

"It was at my desk in RTÉ that The Bothy Band first started, but I left after the hype of the first couple of public performances, because the music was regarded as a vehicle, again for the same joyriding to fame … and again at even fuller throttle than the Tulla Ceili Band!" ( Tony was sacked by several speed mad Ceilidh Bands … lol )

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From the above: "… it was the title track [of A River of Sound] which aroused Tony Mac Mahon’s ire, an eleven-minute opus co-composed by Micheál and Dónal Lunny which features classical percussionist Evelyn Glennie, two kora players (T. Jegedeh and M. Jobarteh – the liner notes do not give their full names), Laoise Kelly on harp, a five-piece string section, two bodhrán players, fiddler Nollaig Casey, Brendan Power on harmonica, saxophonist Kenneth Edge, and the two composers providing respectively piano and harpsichord and bouzouki and bodhrán."

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Greatest respects. The man made me think and feel so much.

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"meself" - I’m willing to accept you could be right, and I wrong about the music Tony MacMahon was commenting on - somebody here must have seen the original programme when it came out, even if it was a quarter century ago now. I know MacMahon was less than impressed [ to put it mildly ] with the track from "River Of Sound", but as I recall it, he was responding to a live performance in the studio which preceded the interview. Maybe not - things get mixed up over a period of 25 years, and I could be wrong. I would like to know though.
It would have been interesting to know how Tony MacMahon felt about musical developments in traditional Irish music over the 25 years since that TV programme was broadcast.
Thanks for the links AB and Brian - I did get a sense of deja-vu.
Also, meself - "Ivers", not "Eivers"

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RIP Tony. A purist and a legend. His slow air playing is one of the gold standards. Lovely playing and fantastic as a TV personality. Sad news indeed.

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a great loss… a legendary musician and unique, passionate person

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Kenny: I’m sure you’re right that it was a live performance TM was responding to; the implication in the quote above may have been that it was a live performance of what became the title-track … or the writer (Geoff Wallis) may have gotten it a bit muddled himself, which is understandable, since TM’s critical statement on the TV show seemed to have touched off a year or two of back and forth, including TM’s essay linked above and its reading at a conference. As I said starting out, I recall TM responding to a live performance by an ensemble of some nature, but it’s been some years since I watched it too, so … who knows? Hmm - I just got a notion of how I might find it - if I do, I’ll be back.

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From the document linked by Briantheflute "The question presenter Gay Byrne asked me, after one of the music performances, was to give an opinion on what I had just heard. I did just that, very briefly, and the entire studio audience went into uproar,…"

Also in that talk "And incidentally Irish Traditional Music isn’t my favourite music and hasn’t been for a long time." What was his favourite music?

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I believe Tony became very absorbed in the traditional music of India. I’m on shaky ground here in terms of regional styles or sub-genres—some Indian music is dubbed "Classical Indian music," but "Classical" is not meant there in the same way it is for Western music. It’s a form of traditional music. But other traditional music of India gets other designations, such as "folk," and other labels I don’t know. I think he’s described his particular interest somewhere or other, but I’m not sure at the moment. He spent much time in India, including a few years during his last decade. I believe he lived in Bangalore. There is material out there about a visit by Martin Hayes to Bangalore, and his experience sharing music with musicians there, that was through Tony, I think. Tony MacMahon married a lovely woman from Asia and I think it was India. They were separated many years ago, and he spoke of his estrangement from his children and spouse in the heartrending documentary a couple of years ago, ‘Slán leis an gCeol/Farewell to Music." At least some of his interviews for the film were shot at his residence in Bangalore, you can see a photo of him there at the link below. He did return to Dublin his last few years.


https://journalofmusic.com/focus/look-forensically-my-mind