FolkWorld #77 03/2022
© Folk and Honey

“Music of a Champion”

Brendan McGlinchey

Turas - Virtual Ireland in Music: Co. Armagh

Artist Video
Brendan McGlinchey @ FROG

Irish Music and Dance in London (IMDL) presented a tribute to Brendan McGlinchey at the London Irish Centre, Saturday 22nd January.

The wonderful Armagh fiddler Brendan McGlinchey had a lot of friends and musical admirers in London town, and indeed internationally. This tribute concert featured:

Gay McKeon (Na Piobairí Uilleann) and Mary Corcoran

The Smyth Family (Armagh Pipers Club)

Paul Brennan, Kevin Boyle, Ben Gunnery

The London Lasses and Pete Quinn

Karen Ryan and Camden Town Music Class

Karen Ryan (London Lasses)

Artist Video Karen Ryan (London
Lasses) @ FROG

Proceeds from the evening's event will be donated to the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability (a charity favoured by Brendan).

Born in 1940 in Armagh, Brendan McGlinchey began learning fiddle at the age of 12 from local teacher John Conway, followed by Archie Collins in Portadown. At 15, Brendan won a competition at the Dungannon Feis and was subsequently asked by ceili band leader Malachy Sweeney to join his band, which he toured with for two years. In 1956 broadcaster Ciarán MacMathúna recorded Brendan solo at the Ennis Fleadh for RTÉ .

Brendan moved to London for work when he was eighteen, returning to Ireland periodically, but eventually settling in England, working as a psychiatric nurse, and playing with musicians such as Roger Sherlock, Bobby Casey, Máirtín Byrne, Finbar Dwyer and Joe Burke. In 1964 in Ireland, he won the ‘Champion of Champions’ Fleadh competition in Clones and in 1974 he released the album “Music of a Champion” accompanied by Mary Mulholland on piano.

He took a break from playing in the late 70s but returned to the scene in the early 1990s and taught annually at the Willie Clancy Summer School for almost twenty years. He also taught at Scoil Éigse as part of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann and at the Joe Mooney Summer School in Drumshanbo.

Brendan composed many tunes, the most well known of which are ‘Splendid Isolation’, ‘Sweeney’s Buttermilk’ and ‘Across the Fence’.

Brendan's return to playing in the 1990s saw him travelling up from his home in Sussex to perform and teach occasionally in West and North London. It was a suggestion by him to friend and fellow music teacher, Karen Ryan, that 'London needs a Festival' which lead (for Karen's part) to the founding of London's annual Festival of traditional Irish music, song and dance 'Return to Camden Town' (now rebranded as 'Return to London Town' and in its 23rd year). Brendan performed annually at the Festival in its early years.

Some other upcoming IMDL events:

Return to London Town Festival

28th-31st October 2022

Friday 1st April - Sliabh Aughty in Concert at the Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith
Featuring: Charlie Harris (accordion), Mark Donnellan (fiddle), Jim Corry (piano)
Saturday 2nd April - Evening Set Dancing Céilí with Sliabh Aughty 

Sunday 3rd April - First Sunday of the Month Set Dancing Céilí with Sliabh Aughty, London Irish Centre, Camden

Return to London Town Festival - London's 24th Festival of traditional Irish music, song and dance
Friday 28th - Monday 31st October 2022
Clayton Crown Hotel, Cricklewood (and other local venues)

For more information about Irish music events in London, please see

  "An Spéic Seoigheach'on": Gay McKeon @ Brendan McGlinchey Memorial Concert

  "The Strabane Hiring Fair": Paul Brennan Band @ Brendan McGlinchey Memorial Concert

Photo Credits: (1) Brendan McGlinchey, (2) Karen Ryan, (3) Return to London Town Festival (unknown/website).

FolkWorld Homepage English Content German Content Editorial & Commentary News & Gossip Letters to the Editors CD & DVD Reviews Book Reviews Folk for Kidz Folk & Roots Online Guide - Archives & External Links Search FolkWorld Info & Contact

FolkWorld - Home of European Music
FolkWorld Homepage
Layout & Idea of FolkWorld © The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld