Popular London Irish musician passes away following cancer battle

Popular London Irish musician passes away following cancer battle

LONDON Irish musician Peter Waters has passed away following a long-term battle with cancer.

The 57-year-old, who died last week, was a popular figure on the Irish music scene in and around London and the south east.

“The world of music is a sadder place without him” his brother Leo Waters told The Irish Post this week.

Born in Holloway to Irish parents, Peter was introduced to Irish music by his father Jim Waters - who was a well-known box player and singer plying his trade in the pubs of North London during the fifties and sixties.

The family moved to St Albans in the mid-sixties, where, as a teenager, Peter taught himself to play guitar and dabbled with live performing with friends as a member of short-lived punk band The Screws.

“Peter was well known throughout London and further abroad for his contribution to popular and Irish music both as an individual and as a member of several bands,” his brother explained.

“After dabbling with live performing with The Screws, Peter decided to make his way around the world making a living by busking.

“He spent several months in the USA and even longer in Australia, but it was whilst busking in Sydney that he met fellow musician Bruce Furzeman” he added.

“They formed a duo - and a lifelong friendship - naming themselves after the popular Irish air The Coolin - and on their return to the UK they became a fixture on the Irish pub scene in London and the south east.”

Peter later felt the need to expand on the duo’s success and would eventually form The Plastic Padddies – adding Sean Ryan and Peter Ridley into the mix.

“That group proved very popular on the Irish Pub circuit, with their blend of traditional and contemporary music very much in the style of the Pogues/Dubliners,” Leo said.

“Their brand of second generation Irish music developed quite a following, leading to gigs all over the UK and as far afield as the USA.”

Later in his career Peter would form a new band – Ballyhooley – featuring multi-instrumentalist John Devine, Baz Evans, Bruce Furzeman and All-Ireland fiddle champion Julianne Healy, which drew similar acclaim.

He also recorded his own work, releasing his eponymous album in 2007, and spent much time exploring his Irish roots over the years – even achieving a degree in Irish studies from the North London University in Holloway Road in his spare time.

“Peter always retained a great love for Ireland,” his brother recalls.

“Our parents moved back to the little seaside village of Fethard On Sea in Co. Wexford in the early 1980's and Peter took over the family home when they passed away,” he said.

“He spent many happy days working on the house and walking the local beaches - Ireland was his spiritual home.”

He added: “But ultimately Peter's life was dominated by his love for music. And whilst he may no longer be here to touch hearts with his live performances, his spirit will always live on in the heart of the many friends and musicians whose lives he touched.