Legendary banjo player Pecker Dunne passes away at age of 79

Leading Traveller musician and singer-songwriter Patrick (Pecker) Dunne has died, aged 79, in Killimer, Co Clare.

Of Wexford stock, he was born in his parents’ horse- drawn caravan, in Castlebar, Co Mayo, in Apr 1933, and became known throughout the country as a busker, pub, and concert performer.

A gifted banjo player, he also became proficient on other instruments and was among the elite of Traveller artistes which also included The Fureys.

Known everywhere as “The Pecker”, he often busked at Munster finals in Cork, Thurles, and Killarney and was seen regularly as a street performer at festive events in places such as Killarney, Listowel, and Clonakilty.

He also performed in England, France, Australia, and New York, where he took to the stage with The Dubliners.

A Traveller rights activist, some of his best-known songs focused on the hardship and injustices faced by Travellers.

In a statement, the Temple Bar Company said it was honoured to work with Farcry productions on a gala benefit concert for Mr Dunne during the 2012 Temple Bar Tradfestival.

Kieran Hanrahan, artistic director of the Tradfestival, said: “The Pecker mastered the art and craft of many an instrument, the mandolin, the fiddle and the banjo.

“He was distinctively known for his most precious of gifts, his voice, and what that voice could deliver.

“It was the envy of some of the world’s most renowned rock, pop, folk and traditional singers.”

He is survived by his wife and four children.

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