Traditional music mourns the loss of fiddle virtuoso Paddy Cronin, 88

Paddy Cronin: Was a pupil of fabled Padraig O'Keeffe
Paddy Cronin: Was a pupil of fabled Padraig O'Keeffe

Traditional Irish music has lost one of its oldest and notable virtuosos with the passing of Paddy Cronin, 88, a pupil of the fabled fiddle master of Sliabh Luachra, Padraig O’Keeffe.

Mr Cronin, who lived in Killarney, was a native of Reaboy, Gneeveguilla, close to the Cork/Kerry border and a stronghold of Irish music. He died at Kerry General Hospital, Tralee, after a short illness.

Having learnt his music from O’Keeffe and coming under the influence of other fiddlers in the area, such as Denis Murphy and Tom Billy Murphy, he emigrated to Boston in 1949.

In the course of 40 years in the US, he played with traditional musicians from many parts of Ireland and developed a style of playing that was very much his own, as well as composing tunes.

Making several recordings for O’Byrne de Witt, he become prominent in trad circles in North America along with his brother, Johnny, who is now deceased.

Paddy Cronin was rated among with top fiddler players in the US at the time, including James Morrison, Paddy Killoran, and Michael Coleman, and was particularly interested in the Sligo style of reel-playing.

He was an interior decorator and he once said he never regarded playing music as a money-making proposition.

“I’ve always stuck with the old-style music and am not going to change now,’’ he said in an interview several years ago.

“I maintain that a house is the best place to play the fiddle, which is music for the kitchen and the fireside. There’s nothing nicer than sitting down with a crowd inside a house. I love that. Even if I’m on my own, I love to sit down and play for myself.’’

He travelled home regularly and was a frequent attender of fleadhanna cheoil around the country.

Predeceased by his wife, Connie, he is survived by his children, Michael, Patrick, Eileen, Vincent, Margot and Danny; a brother, Fr Dan; and a sister, Kathy O’Donoghue.

His remains will be removed from O’Shea’s Funeral Home, Killarney, to the Church of the Resurrection, Park Rd, Killarney, at 6.30 this evening. Burial will be in Aghadoe Lawn Cemetery, Killarney, following Requiem Mass at 10.30am tomorrow.

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