Tributes flood in after world-renowned Irish composer Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin dies at 67
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Tributes flood in after world-renowned Irish composer Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin dies at 67

TRIBUTES have been paid to Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, one of the best-known Irish composers of the modern era, after he passed away last night aged 67.

Prof Ó Súilleabháin was Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of Limerick (UL), as well as founder and director of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.

The native of Clonmel, Co. Tipperary passed away at the Milford Hospice in Limerick "after a prolonged illness", his family said.

Ó Súilleabháin was an acclaimed music artist, composer, academic, and broadcaster - having collaborated with the RTÉ Orchestras, and the broadcaster remembered him today for his "fusion of Irish traditional and classical music in particular for his unique style of piano playing."

He also worked on programmes including A River of Sound, which looked into the changing landscape of Irish traditional music.

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Ó Súilleabháin is survived by his wife Helen Whelan, a professor music, their son Luke; sons Eoin and Mícheál (Moley) and their mother Dr Nóirín Ní Rian; and his brother John.

President of UL, Dr Des Fitzgerald, tweeted his "enormous sadness" at news of Ó Súilleabháin's passing.

In a statement, the university said: "Mícheál was one of Ireland's best-known musicians, composers and academics.

"Emeritus Professor of Music at UL and founder/Director at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance which he created in 1994, Micheál also recorded a series of pioneering solo albums which re-positioned his chosen instrument, the piano, at the heart of Irish traditional music – while also revealing the intersections where classical and traditional music could co-exist.

"He produced a series of CD recordings in America, the UK, and Ireland on the traditional music of the Shetland Islands, Donegal, Cape Breton Island and on Irish traditional musicians in the USA and in England.

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"He leaves a rich legacy through his own music, as well as the Academy he founded which attracted students from over 50 countries."

Ó Súilleabháin was a graduate of University College Cork (UCC), where he studied under the tutelage of iconic Irish composer Seán Ó Riada in the early 1970s.

The late Mr Ó Riada’s daughter, and Sinn Féin candidate in the 2018 Presidential Election, Liadh Ní Riada, tweeted: "Ar dheis Dé le Michéal Ó Súilleabháin. Legendary pianist & composer. A student of my father's and always spoke highly of him.

"Michéal left a great legacy of wonderful compositions & arrangements. Suaimhneas sioraí."