Tribute concert for legendary fiddler Brendan McGlinchey

Tribute concert for legendary fiddler Brendan McGlinchey

A CONCERT will be held this month in honour of the late Armagh fiddler Brendan McGlinchey.

Organised by Irish Music and Dance London (IMDL) the event takes place at the London Irish Centre (LIC) in Camden – an area where the talented musician had many friends and admirers.

Born in 1940 in Armagh, Mr McGlinchey began learning fiddle at the age of 12 from local teacher John Conway, followed by Archie Collins in Portadown.

At 15, he won a competition at the Dungannon Feis and was subsequently asked by ceili band leader Malachy Sweeney to join his band, which he toured with for two years.

At the age of 18, Mr McGlinchey moved to London for work.

He returned to Ireland periodically, but eventually settled in England, working as a psychiatric nurse, and playing with musicians such as Roger Sherlock, Bobby Casey, Máirtín Byrne, Finbar Dwyer and Joe Burke.

In 1964 in Ireland, he won the Champion of Champions Fleadh competition in Clones and in 1974 he released the album Music of a Champion accompanied by Mary Mulholland on piano.

He took a break from playing in the late 1970s but returned to the scene in the early 1990s and taught annually at the Willie Clancy Summer School for almost twenty years.

He also taught at Scoil Éigse as part of Fleadh Cheoil nah Éireann and at the Joe Mooney Summer School in Drumshanbo.

The fiddler composed many tunes, the most well known of which are Splendid Isolation, Sweeney’s Buttermilk and Across the Fence.

His return to playing in the 1990s saw him travelling up from his home in Sussex to perform and teach occasionally in West and North London.

It was a suggestion by him to friend and fellow music teacher, Karen Ryan, that ‘London needs a Festival' which lead – for Ms Ryan’s part - to the founding of London's annual festival of traditional Irish music, song and dance Return to Camden Town, which is now in its 24th year and has since been rebranded as the Return to London Town festival.

Mr McGlinchey performed annually at the Festival in its early years, and remained a popular figure in the traditional Irish music scene up until his death in April 2020.

The musician – widely deemed one of the best to ever come out of Armagh – passed away at home in Sussex following a battle with cancer at the age of 79.

This month he will be remembered at IMDL’s concert – which will feature Gay McKeon (Na Piobairí Uilleann) and Mary Corcoran, The Smyth Family (Armagh Pipers Club), Paul Brennan, Kevin Boyle, Ben Gunnery, The London Lasses and Pete Quinn, Karen Ryan and Camden Town Music Class.

Tickets for the event, which takes place at the LIC at 7.30pm on Saturday, January 22, cost £15/£5 under 18s.

Proceeds from the evening will be donated to the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability, a cause close to Mr McGlinchey’s heart.

For tickets or further information click here.

Further IMDL events this year:

Sliabh Aughty in Concert, featuring: Charlie Harris (accordion), Mark Donnellan (fiddle), Jim Corry (piano), Friday, April 1 - Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith

Evening Set Dancing Céilí with Sliabh Aughty, Saturday, April 2 – venue TBA

First Sunday of the Month Set Dancing Céilí with Sliabh Aughty, Sunday, April 3 - London Irish Centre, Camden

Return to London Town Festival - London's 24th Festival of traditional Irish music, song and dance, Friday, October 28 – Monday, October 31, Clayton Crown Hotel, Cricklewood (and other local venues)

Special Festival B&B room rates now available to book at the Clayton Crown Hotel for the Festival weekend, using the promo code 'RETURNTL' when booking online at

For more information about Irish music events in London click here.