Obituary: Vincent O'Halloran, musician and south London Irish community member

Obituary: Vincent O'Halloran, musician and south London Irish community member

THE south London Irish community remains in shock following the passing last Sunday (May 11) of Vincent O'Halloran, master of the accordion, singer of note and a central member of our community.

Vincent was born on the island of Inishboffin, off the Galway coast, a feature of which he was justifiably proud. He always carried the responsibly of representing his island and it's community with pride.

He arrived in London in the early 1950's and quickly found work in the burgeoning building trade after the war.

He also found that his music would open many doors and soon started playing in the pubs and clubs of London alongside his brother, Dessie and the late great Clareman, Paddy Breen.

During this time he and Dessie were invited by Reg Hall of Topic records to record an LP, which was released in 1976, titled The Men of the Island. Vincent also won the All Britain Senior Accordion competition twice.

He later married and went to live in Swindon, where  he and his wife remained for some years. They had a daughter, Bridie, but sadly Vincent's wife died at a very young age, a tragedy which hit Vincent very hard.

Soon after he headed back to south London where he picked up where he had left things. Playing lots of music in the London scene which was now alive with great musicians, a magical  time for Irish music.

He fell under the spell of County Cork multi instrumentalist and composer, Finbarr Dwyer whose music and friendship inspired Vincent. He also struck up a lifelong friendship with another character from Cork, Curly Sullivan, the possessor of a mighty voice and personality to match.

These were friendships which lasted a lifetime, and the passing of Curly moved Vincent to take up singing in public and he mostly songs associated with Curly. The passing of Finbarr, a couple of years ago, really affected Vincent deeply.

He was a member of the South London Irish Centre where he regularly played, and his weekly arrival at our session in The Kilkenny Tavern seemed to light up the place and was only topped when he contributed to the evenings entertainment, either with the accordion or a song or two which always got the crowd involved, a wonderful performer.

In recent years Vincent  had been fighting a valiant battle against Cancer, which entailed lots of Chemo therapy and pain, he also had several complications  to this, but never complained,  just accepted his lot and tried to enjoy his life and spread happiness and friendship wherever he was.

His Funeral Mass will take place this Friday (May 23) at 10.30  at St John Fisher Church, Cannon Hill Lane, Morden.

Cremation will follow at Blackshaw Road, Wandsworth and reception afterwards at The Irish Centre, Hartfield Road, Wimbledon. His ashes will be returned to his beloved Inishboffin.

There are some beautiful pieces of Vincent on You Tube especially one of his sitting on a rock in Inishboffin harbour playing his beloved Paulo Soprani.

Vincent once confided to me that " I strive to be the nicest guy on the planet" this he accomplished in spades, for to all who knew and loved him he was one of those guys and we are all better off for having known him.