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A Donegal Fiddle Feast


Donegal Master Fiddlers


The Donegal Master Fiddlers gala concert, a celebration of the lifetime achievement of four of the county’s greatest living traditional fiddlers – Vincent Campbell, Jimmy Campbell, Dinny McLaughlin and Danny Meehan – takes place at An Grianán Theatre Letterkenny this Sunday May 14th. This fiddle feast is a rare opportunity to see several generations of leading Donegal fiddlers on stage at the same time. In addition of having a chance to witness the larger than life personalities and distinctive fiddle styles of Vincent, Jimmy, Dinny and Danny there will be a host of other fine Donegal fiddlers who have been influenced by them, including Ciaran Ó Mhaonaigh and Aiden O’Donnell from Fidil, Martin McGinley, Roisin Harrigan and others. This is the second occasion that this great event has been held in the wonderful surroundings of An Grianán Theatre, a fantastic night took place there during the Earagail Arts Festival two years ago. In fact this is the third time in all that the Master Fiddlers concert has been staged following a sell-out performance at the MAC Belfast last Sunday night as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. The concert commences at 8pm and tickets priced €15 and €10 concession can be booked at An Grianán Theatre on 00353 74 9120777 or online at


Four Master Fiddlers

Dinny McLaughlin, born in 1935 near Buncrana, was interested in the fiddle from a young age, though he was fourteen years old before he got a fiddle of his own. Dinny's father, James, played the fiddle, although it was a local fiddle player, Pat Mulherne, who became Dinny's fiddle teacher. Dinny performed all over the world with the group Aileach and recorded a number of albums with them. In addition to his recorded work, Dinny's main legacy will be as a brilliant teacher and the interest that he has encouraged in traditional music in several generations of young players in Inishowen. His fiddle pupils have included Liz Doherty, Ciaran Tourish and Roisin and Damian Harrigan amongst others.


Jimmy Campbell (born 1937) and Vincent his brother, just a year younger, grew up in a house that was steeped in Donegal fiddle music. Their father, Peter (1900 – 1995), was a well known fiddle player as was his father, James. Their home was a regular venue for musicians to come to visit and play music. As if they weren't lucky enough in terms of growing up and learning to play the fiddle in this environment, their house was a place where both John and Mickey Doherty regularly called and spent time. Vincent Campbell's fiddle playing is truly wonderful as it has a real old time sound to it. His repertoire is huge with much being derived directly from the Doherty brothers. He has many tunes and special versions that no one else has. His bowing, fingering and droning are often quite spectacular.


Danny Meehan was born near Mountcharles in 1940. He left home aged sixteen and went to England, where he lived and worked most of his life before returning home in 2007. According to another great Donegal fiddle player Tommy Peoples “I think that the fiddle chose Danny. It recognised in that noble athletic giant, of wondrous appearance and personality, a soul and spirit needing the freedoms of the fingerboard and bow, and the space from those strings to sounds, to allow that unfettered imagination, pay musical tribute to his God...”.


A Donegal Fiddle Feast

The Donegal Master Fiddlers concert at An Grianán Theatre Letterkenny this Sunday May 14th will provide a not to me missed opportunity to see several generations of leading Donegal fiddlers performing together, exchanging tunes and stories, on the same stage. Each Master Fiddler will be introduced in turn by a younger renowned fiddler, Vincent and Jimmy by Martin McGinley, Danny by Aiden O’Donnell and Dinny by Roisin Harrigan. This feast of traditional Irish music will also feature the Campbells (Vincent, his brother Jimmy and nephew Peter), Dinny McLaughlin’s group Ark of Tides and Aidan O’Donnell and Ciaran Ó Mhaonaighfrom Fidil. The opening performance of this incredible night of music will come from Coirm an even younger generation of musicians drawn from Paul Harrigan’s Ceol na Coille music school.




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