President Higgins pays tribute to musician Tommy Peoples

Award-winning Donegal-born fiddle player, composer and Bothy Band member dies at 70

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins has extended his sympathy to the family and friends of musician Tommy Peoples, who has died aged 70.

A message on the musician’s website said he died on Friday.

"I have learned with great sadness of the death of Tommy Peoples, the renowned Donegal fiddle player and composer," Mr Higgins said in a statement.

“Regarded as a master of his craft, Tommy enchanted audiences at home and


abroad with his unique style of music, playing with the Kilfenora Céilí­Band, the Bothy Band and many other legendary figures in the world of traditional Irish music."

Mr Higgins noted Peoples had the distinction of receiving two TG4 Gradam Awards, for Traditional Musician of the Year in 1998 and Composer of the Year in 2013, which he said was “a feat not achieved before or since”.

“He also had a great love of the Irish language, which he considered to be a very important part of Irish life.

“I, with so many others have the warmest memories of Tommy as a friend over

many decades and we shall all greatly miss him.”

The President said he and his wife Sabina sent their deepest condolences to his family, friends and all those who knew him.

Peoples was born near St Johnston in east Donegal in 1948, in an area with a strong tradition of fiddle music. He had his first fiddle lessons from his older first cousin, Joe Cassidy, who had been taught by their grandfather, Jimmy Peoples.

The musician moved to Dublin in 1965 and he played in groups such as the Green Linnet Céilí Band, 1691, and The Bothy Band, as well performing solo.

He lived in County Clare for over 30 years.

He had not been performing in recent years due to health reasons.

The message on his website described him as “the most influential fiddler of his generation, and an inspiration to countless musicians worldwide”.

“His compositions were, like his playing style, unique, very personal, and have become part of the tradition.”

In July 2015, he published his collected compositions with a text telling a story of the melody titles. The book, entitled Óam Go hAm (From Time to Time), included original drawings and artwork by Peoples.

His funeral Mass will take place on Tuesday in Ennis Cathedral at midday, with burial afterwards at Drumcliffe Cemetery.