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Obituaries

Flora MacNeil - 6 October 1928–15 May 2015

Flora MacNeil was one of the giants of Scotland’s folk revival. Just as the singers who sing in Scots acknowledge the influence of Jeannie Robertson, all of the current generation of Gaelic singers acknowledge their debt to Flora MacNeil.

Michael “Mick” Quinn - The Great South Armagh Bard

The last sounds he heard in this world were the same as the first sounds that greeted him on entering it 88 years before, the sound of singing, of traditional song. That which welcomed him then, came to welcome him again. The evening before he died in Daisy Hill hospital on the 30 May 2015, the family of Michael “Mick” Quinn, of Conway Park, Mullaghbawn, one of South Armagh’s greatest cultural personalities, gathered around his bed and at his request sang song after favourite song.

Packie Manus Byrne - 1917-2015 - Farewell to a Friend

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Packie Byrne was born in Corkermore, Co. Donegal, on 18th February 1917, the youngest of four children. His parents, Con and Maria, were great lovers of traditional songs and had a vast store of them. And so the family cottage often rang with music, as friends and neighbours gathered for an evening of shared tunes, songs, dances and stories. In this enriching soil, Packie flourished.

Roy Palmer

Roy Palmer, who died on 26 February 2015, was a dedicated collector and disseminator of traditional songs, folklore, and of the ephemeral detail that fills the spaces in the history of ordinary people. Though his name is familiar to the thousands of people who read his books and the articles that he wrote for magazines and journals, he was a private person who, while he appreciated the recognition that he received, was content to plough his own furrow in his own way.

Bob Hodgson

Bob passed away on 5 March 2015. Known to all as “Scotch Bob”, there are few who knew him who would not recognise him by his voice. He never lost his Glaswegian accent which, to the English ear, always seemed to make “hello” sound like a threat! His singing was a distinctive rich baritone which could be heard above all, even in the noisiest of pubs.

John Renbourn - 1944-2015

It's with great sadness that we have lost another stalwart of the Folk Revival. John was a dear friend and neighbour up here in the beautiful Scottish Borders. I will miss him and his crazy stories very much. He was a man with incredible energy and charm who lived every day like it was his first and last!

Jim Marrinan

The end of an era is a tired old phrase, a handy catchall, bled dry and diluted by over-application and misuse, a frayed and faded and wrung-out old dishcloth of a cliché. How then do we describe true turn-of-the-tide events, those final irrevocable, fin-de-siécle moments with no turning back, which change the colour of our lives forever? The death of a parent, our children leaving home, the sale of our childhood home, the destruction of a landmark building?

Geoff Turner

Geoff Turner was well known around the English club and festival scene. A singer of traditional and contemporary material with a particular fondness for the traditional style songs of writers like Keith Marsden and Graeme Miles, he was often to be found hosting singarounds at various festivals.

TONY DEANE - 1942- 2015

Tony Deane's early days in the folk clubs of South London were as part of the Laymen folk group, as a regular singer at the thriving 1960s club at the Railway Tavern in Catford and as organiser of the Nag's Head in Battersea, amongst others. Often with a humorous edge, his singing demonstrated great respect for the song tradition of south east England, but he also drew material from his lifelong love of all things Cornish. He became part of the community in Gorran, never missing the 'Obby 'Oss celebrations in Padstow, immersing himself in Cornish culture and spending as much time as possible in that county.

Sheila Stewart Scottish Traveller, Traditional Singer and Storyteller - 1935 - 2014

Sheila Stewart, who died in December aged 79, was one of Scotland's finest traditional singers, inheriting a rich oral culture of songs, ballads and folk tales that had survived as a living tradition among the Scottish Travellers. Last of the famous Perthshire Traveller family, The Stewarts of Blair, her father Alex Stewart, piper and storyteller, matriarch Belle Stewart and her two daughters, Sheila and Cathie, were welcomed by the folk revival of the 1960s and the family became well-known performers on the folk scene in Scotland and England, in Europe and the United States.