01 March 2022

Over the Water to Ireland with the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra

In August 1991, the SFO undertook its first ever trip to Ireland, playing concerts in Belfast and Dublin.

The concert in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, on 31 August 1991, represented a kind of cultural handover from Glasgow to Dublin as European City of Culture 1991.

In his programme introduction for that evening, John Mason, explained that though it might be the SFO’s first time in the Emerald Isle, he was himself a regular visitor to Ireland over many years.

In his words, he had “become enthralled with Ireland’s culture and its people”.

He had great respect for the enormous wealth of Irish traditional music and a healthy respect for its many fine performers.

It says it all that, when the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra was formed in1980, it chose for its President an Irish fiddler – Dr. Gerry Crean.

The SFO’s concerts in Belfast and Dublin featured a guest spot by The Garrykennedy Heritage Players, led by Dan Larkin.

Garrykennedy is a village on the Shannon River in North Tipperary.

The Heritage Players were formed from the many times Irish champion “Ormond Ceilidh Band”, led by the late, great accordionist, Paddy O’Brien.

One of the sets performed by the Heritage Players was a selection of Irish Reels, including “Dinny O’Brien”, a composition dedicated to his father by Paddy.

The link between John Mason and Ireland came up in a 2022 RTE Radio programme, celebrating the life of Paddy O’Brien.