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Johnny O’Leary Commemorated

Johnny O’Leary was the smiling ambassador of Sliabh Luachra music, steeped in the traditional dance music of South Munster. He was born in 1924 in Maulykeavane, halfway between Killarney and Ballydesmond, at the epicentre of Sliabh Luachra. He began by working out tunes on the melodeon at the age of five and progressed so well that by his early teens he was playing music for local dances.

At the age of fifteen he met the famous fiddle player, Denis Murphy and together they formed a great musical partnership that lasted some thirty-seven years. A resident in the area all his life Johnny O’Leary had a wealth of local tunes (reckoned to be aropind 1500) and was a big influence on the continued vitality of the Sliabh Luchra style. He played sessions twice a week (Fridays and Sundays) at Dan O’Connell’s pub in Knocknagree from 1964 until his death in 2004.

His music was recorded and noted by Breandán Breathnach and in book form by the archivist, Terry Moylan who edited the 1994 volume ‘Johnny O’Leary of Sliabh Luachra.’ Visitors to Killarney will now see a memorial to Johnny O’Leary in Kenmare Place (opposite the Killarney Avenue Hotel), it was officially unveiled on Saturday 28th April by John O’Donoghue T.D. Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism. After the ceremony a session of great music followed at the Gleneagle Hotel.

Permalink - Posted: May 2, 2007 at 3:36 pm