Tributes paid to Irish trad musician and composer Charlie Lennon

Co Leitrim-born musician leaves behind a ‘rich catalogue of compositions’

An cumadóir, Charlie Lennon
Musician Charlie Lennon, who has died at the age of 85.

Trad icon Charlie Lennon will be remembered as one of Irish music’s “most talented” artists following his death at the age of 85.

The Co Leitrim fiddle player and composer wrote many compositions familiar to musicians, including The Twelve Pins, The Smiling Bride, and The Road to Cashel among others.

Born in Kiltyclogher, Mr Lennon learned instruments including the fiddle and piano at a young age, and joined several céilí bands in his teens before going on to earn a Doctorate in Nuclear Physics at Liverpool University.

His acclaimed book of compositions, titled Musical Memories, was released in 1993.

In 2006 he was named Composer of the Year by TV channel TG4.

In his later years he retired to Spiddal, Co Galway, where he opened a recording studio.

Paying tribute, Irish President Michael D Higgins said: “With the passing of Charlie Lennon Irish music has lost one of its most talented and generous artists. Charlie Lennon was an outstanding musician and composer who leaves behind a rich catalogue of compositions.

“From deep connections in traditional music, growing up in a musical house, he learned the fiddle from his late brother, the acclaimed Ben Lennon.”

Mr Higgins said Charlie’s compositions “will live on through the many musicians who will continue to play them in the decades to come”.

“He will be rightly remembered as both a superb composer - both of traditional tunes and orchestral works - and as an accomplished fiddler player and pianist,” Mr Higgins said.

“Indeed, his talents and brilliance for what was challenging were so many that receiving a Doctorate in Nuclear Physics was part of what was a truly remarkable career.”

He added: “May I extend my deepest sympathies to Charlie’s wife Síle Tim Ní Fhlaithearta, his children Seán, Éilís and Donal, and to all his family, friends and fellow musicians.”

Others to pay tribute to the musician include RTÉ Irish music broadcaster Kieran Hanrahan, who said in a social media post Charlie was an “inspirational person”, and Waterboys frontman Mike Scott.