- 10 Jan 23
The tributes have been led by President Michael D. Higgins. Meanwhile, Mike Scott from The Waterboys has described him as "perhaps the most beautiful singer I've heard", as well as "a friend, a king and a god."
Tributes are pouring in from across the Irish music community and beyond, following news that acclaimed West Kerry musician Séamus Begley has died, aged 73.
The hugely influential accordion player leaves behind a remarkable legacy in Irish traditional music, including collaborations with countless musicians, and a famed musical partnership with Steve Cooney.
“It is with sadness that lovers of Irish music across the world will have heard of the death of Séamus Begley," the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins said.
"Séamus will be remembered as one of Ireland’s finest accordion players as well as a beautiful singer. Growing up in a family rich in traditional Irish music in Baile na bPoc in the west Kerry Gaeltacht, his recordings and performances captured not only the music of his upbringing but also a knowledge of music far beyond these shores.
"From his early albums with his sister Máire starting 50 years ago, to his landmark collaboration with Steve Cooney on the album Meitheal, and in so many more works besides, including with Jim Murray and Tim Edey, Séamus has left us a lasting musical legacy.
"Sabina and I had the pleasure of hosting Séamus for performances in Áras an Uachtaráin, including at the State dinner held in honour of their Majesties, the King and Queen of the Netherlands in June 2019, on which occasion he was accompanied on vocals by his daughter Méabh and on guitar by Donogh Hennessy.
"As with all those who knew Séamus, we will remember him for his talent, his warmth and his sense of fun, that lasting impression which he left on all those who he met. He will be deeply missed.
"May I express my deepest condolences to his wife Mary, to his children Breandán, Eoin, Niall and Méabh, to his extended family and to his wide circle of friends and musical colleagues.”
Mike Scott of The Waterboys described him as "the finest of all Irish musicians" and "perhaps the most beautiful singer" he'd ever heard – as well as "a friend, a king and a god."
"Mo comhbróin le chlann agus le chairde Séamus Begley," wrote John Creedon. "We had so much ceol, craic agus downright pléicaíocht i rith na mbliana. I'm genuinely going to miss this giant of a man. What we wouldn't give for one last encore, ach tá sé ar shlí na firinne anois. Slán a chara."
"So sad to hear Seamus Begley has passed," Pat Shortt remarked. "A great musician but an incredible character that brought so much joy to everyone through Irish music It was pure craic being in his company. Rip Seamus and condolences to his family and extended Trad family."
"The man was a pillar of culture: we are losing the pillars," says Patrick M. Barrett. "Mesmerising in voice, in tunes, in his playing. Privileged to be in his company on more than one occasion down through the years, and he just exuded life and the simple pleasures of it."
"It's with a heavy heart that we hear of the passing of the totally unique and larger than life Séamus Begley," say the members of Greenshine. "Séamus was a wonderful box player, a beautiful singer and the most Up For The Craic person you'd ever meet. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam."
Broadcaster Marty Morrissey messages: "What a fantastic accordion player and singer. Anyone who loves traditional music will be deeply saddened by his loss. A really lovely West Kerry man who loved his native soil. My deepest sympathies to his family."
It's striking that he's being hailed as much by young musicians as he is his contemporaries with Joe Chester recalling that, "Seeing Séamus play many, many times with Steve Cooney in my formative years taught me so much and brought me so much joy. The very best of nights and of music. Thank you Séamus and may you rest in peace."
"What a beautiful character," reads the tribute from Declan O'Rourke. "The greatest messer. Could break your ribs with a punch but did it with humour instead. No one was safe. Nothing was sacred. Known for his playing but, oh, when he sang! Love to all his family and friends. RIP Séamus Begley. To the sibín in the sky ."
"Seamus was a tower of wild talent always with a mischievous glint in his eye, an irreverent joke to hand and one of the sweetest voices in traditional Irish song," say the crew from the De Barra's Folk Club.
Says Molly King from Other Voices: "Speechless and genuinely heartbroken. We’ve lost a piece of west Kerry. Hard to imagine home without Séamus. He sang ‘Molly My Irish Molly’ to me whenever I saw him. Suaimhneas síoraí dá anam uasal. Tá laoch ar lár."
See more tributes to Séamus Begley below:
A singing hero and artist and musician ❤️ The inimitable, unique gifted Séamus Begley pic.twitter.com/QWGeQwThpv
— Jack O Rourke (@JackORourkes) January 9, 2023
Séamus Ó Beaglaoich
Tá laoch ar lár.
Suaimhneas síoraí dá anam uasal ceolmhar 🪗♥️ pic.twitter.com/CkIsMhKPoc
— TG4TV (@TG4TV) January 9, 2023
Our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Séamus Begley - ‘The Bold Kerryman’ … Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam #seamusbegley pic.twitter.com/P0NTymxLt9
— The Wolfe Tones 🇮🇪 (@wolfetones) January 10, 2023
So sad to hear of the passing of Seamus Begley. Had the pleasure of swapping a few stories and jokes with the man in a pub on Lesson Street many moons ago. A gentleman. And a phenomenal musician. Ar dheis dé go raibh a anam dílis. pic.twitter.com/a4RDG7kQbW
— Dublin By Pub (@dublinbypub) January 9, 2023
R.I.P the great Séamus Begley x
— David Keenan (@DavidKeenanmuso) January 10, 2023
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