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Séamus Begley Facebook

Tributes paid following the death of trad musician Séamus Begley at 73

Begley released eight albums throughout his career, notably the award-winning album ‘Meitheal’ with Australian guitarist Steve Cooney

LAST UPDATE | 10 Jan 2023

ACCLAIMED TRADITIONAL MUSICIAN and singer Séamus Begley died at the age of 73 yesterday.

Begley, from Baile na bPoc in the west Kerry Gaeltacht, was renowned for his accordion playing and recorded his first album with his sister Máire, titled ‘An Ciarraíoch Mallaithe’, in 1973.

Begley’s father was esteemed accordionist Bhreandáin Bheaglaoich, and the nine Begley children were constantly exposed to music from a young age.

“We sang all the time,” he told the Irish Examiner in 2015.

“In the evening, after milking the cows, there would be a huge sing-song. We also owned a dance-hall. The incentive was that if you learned a couple of tunes you’d to play at the céilí. I started when I was 13.”

Begley released eight albums throughout his career, notably the award-winning album ‘Meitheal’  with Australian guitarist Steve Cooney.

President Michael D Higgins offered his condolences today in a statement which began:

“It is with sadness that lovers of Irish music across the world will have heard of the death of Séamus Begley.”

“Séamus will be remembered as one of Ireland’s finest accordion players as well as a beautiful singer.

“Sabina and I had the pleasure of hosting Séamus for performances in Áras an Uachtaráin, including at the State dinner held in honour of their Majesties, the King and Queen of the Netherlands in June 2019, on which occasion he was accompanied on vocals by his daughter Méabh and on guitar by Donogh Hennessy.

“As with all those who knew Séamus, we will remember him for his talent, his warmth and his sense of fun, that lasting impression which he left on all those who he met.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar paid tributes, Tweeting the statement:

“Séamus Begley was loved throughout Ireland and in particular his beloved west Kerry. He was one of the most accomplished accordion players we have ever seen. He was a gifted story teller and remained close to his Gaeltacht roots.”

“Renowned for his versatility, Séamus had an ability to collaborate with musicians who had no background in traditional Irish music. In doing so he helped to put our culture on the world stage. My sincere condolences to his wife Mary and his children. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam,” Varadkar continued.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin gave her condolences to the Begley family last night, calling the Kerryman an icon whose “music was deeply rooted in his beloved home place of Corca Dhuibhne”.

The lead singer of The Waterboys, Mike Scott, said:

“The finest of all Irish musicians, and perhaps the most beautiful singer I’ve ever heard, the great Séamus Ó Beaglaoich, known in the other tongue as Seamus Begley, has passed away. He was a friend, a king and a god. Travel on well, great spirit.”

Seán McElwaine and Tristan Rosenstock of the traditional band Téada, which frequently collaborated with Begley, also paid respects.

McElwaine referred to Begley’s “larger than life presence,” while Rosenstock said that his bandmates hearts were broken after losing such a great friend.

RTÉ broadcaster John Creedon stated: “Mo comhbróin le chlann agus le chairde Séamus Begley. We had so much ceol, craic agus downright pléicaíocht i rith na mbliana.”

“I’m genuinely going to miss this giant of a man. What we wouldn’t give for one last encore, ach tá sé ar shlí na firinne anois. Slán a chara.”

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