Ciarán MacMathúna dies

One of the legends of Irish music died last night.

Ciarán MacMathúna was a well known broadcaster, folklorist and music collector. Born in 1925, he joined RTE in 1955 with an MA in Irish under his belt, and was commissioned to record material for the national station's folk and traditional music archive. He was responsible for the long-running programme Mo Cheol Thú, which ran from 1970 to 2005.

He was married to the folk singer Dolly McMahon, and together they formed a formidable influence on the growth and development of Irish folk music from the 1960s onwards. MacMathúna won many awards over the years, including two Jacobs Awards for his broadcasting achievements, a number of honorary doctorates and, most recently, the Musicians' Award at the TG4 Traditional Music Awards in 2007.

"Coming hard on the heels of the death of Liam Clancy, the passing of Ciarán MacMathúna is a signal that we are in the process of losing a great generation of Irish folk pioneers," Hot Press editor Niall Stokes said. "Let us hope that, in our public policy, and in particular our broadcasting framework, we continue to do justice to the extraordinary work they did in reviving the true spirit of Irish folk and traditional music and re-instating it at the heart of the Irish experience."

An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen paid tribute to the legendary broadcaster. “He was encyclopaedic in his knowledge of Irish traditional music and its artists," he said, "and for many many decades, wherever good Irish music was played and enjoyed, Ciarán was to be found in its midst.”

The Minister for the Arts, Martin Cullen, aIso paid tribute: "I was saddened to hear of the passing of the distinguished Irish broadcaster, Ciarán Mac Mathúna who contributed so much to the cultural life of this country, not only through his television and radio career with RTÉ but also as a collector of Irish music, poetry and song. A man of great intellect with a wonderful commitment to and understanding of Irish folklore and the traditional arts, Ciarán made it a priority over the course of his long life to travel and meet musicians and to collect Irish music and stories, preserving them for future generations. He has left us with a wonderful legacy.

"An accomplished producer and presenter for RTÉ, he will be best remembered for his Sunday morning radio programme ‘Mo Cheol Thú’ where his wisdom and love of Irish music and the written word shone through. Ciarán Mac Mathúna was widely admired and deeply respected and appreciated by all who knew him. My sincere sympathy is extended to his wife Dolly McMahon and their three children and extended family at this time."

Hot Press expresses its heartfelt condolences to his life partner Dolly McMahon and to all of his family and friends.


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