Ben Lennon - 1928-2020
Ben Lennon was a master of the North Leitrim style of fiddle playing. A gentleman in every sense, as a teacher he was well known for his generosity and sympathy with younger musicians.
Born in the border village of Kiltyclogher, North Leitrim, he still lived in nearby Rossinver. He was a veteran of the London Irish music scene, and in recent years was a regular at local sessions and traditional festivals all over Ireland. He had a stylish and leisurely approach to the music, with a varied repertoire of tunes, with hornpipes and barn dances, not just reels - many of Leitrim origin, with some from the pen of his brother Charlie, and some learned from older musicians along the border country in his younger days.
I had the privilege of meeting and playing alongside Ben during my years in North Leitrim, and he was highly respected by everyone, not just musicians. I remember one afternoon session of about 20 musicians in Manorhamilton when he left early, but made a point of a handshake with all present before leaving - a mark of the man.
There are several CDs of his lovely music, with various other quality players, and his life was celebrated in 2011 by the Irish TV station TG4, which awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award. The passing of Ben Lennon is a huge loss, and marks the end of an era in North Leitrim music, one of the regional centres of the Irish tradition.