President leads tributes after death of De Danann’s Alec Finn

Influential musician noted for ‘famed sensitivity’ and skill with string instruments

The late Alec Finn. Photograph: Joe O'Shaughnessy

The late Alec Finn. Photograph: Joe O'Shaughnessy

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President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to the traditional musician Alec Finn who has died aged 74.

Finn was a founder member of De Danann, one of the most popular and enduring Irish trad acts over the last 40 years.

The English-born musician, who was said to have died peacefully at home in Galway, founded De Dannan with Frankie Gavin, Ringo MacDonagh and Charlie Piggott in 1975. He was renowned for playing the bouzouki, an instrument that has been integrated into the Irish trad scene.

“All those who love Irish music will have heard with great sadness the news of the passing of Alec Finn. From their early beginnings in An Spidéal and Galway city, De Danann grew to become one of the most significant and best loved representatives of Irish music at its best,” said Mr Higgins.

“Alec Finn was also a distinguished solo artist and session musician, playing on a variety of string instruments, but always bringing his famed sensitivity and skill to every performance.

“It has been a privilege to know Alec Finn. Sabina and I send our deepest condolences to his family, colleagues and friends, in the full knowledge that Alec Finn’s music will live on and continue to inspire countless people around the world.”

The band posted on their Facebook page: “We are deeply saddened to lose our dear friend and bandmate Alec Finn today. A true genius of a man and he will be sorely missed by all.His music and legacy will live on. RIP Alec.”

Former De Danann singer Tommy Fleming tweeted: “Just heard the news of the sad passing of my former colleague Alec Finn from De Dannan. Alec was a stalwart of Irish music and an integral member of De Dannan. I toured the World with these guys from 1993-1996 as their lead singer.”

Broadcaster John Kelly tweeted: “Sad news. I’m very sorry to hear of the death of Alec Finn. We have lost so many of the greats in recent times. Another one gone.”

Finn is survived by his wife the artist Leonie King, son Cian - also a musician, daughter Heather who has a knitwear label, and extended family. His funeral is expected to take place in Galway on Monday.

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