Sliabh Luachra lost his best violinist with the recent passing of Paddy Cronin at the age of 88. A native of Reaboy, Gneeveguilla, near the Kerry / Cork border, he was the last living pupil of Patrick O’Keeffe, the famous violin player and teacher who was the greatest exponent of the regional Sliabh Luachra musical style.
Born into a family of nine children, Paddy emigrated to Boston in 1949. Already an accomplished violinist, he quickly fell in love with the Sligo violin style, and in particular the playing of Michael Coleman and James Morrison.
In his Sligo-style response, Paddy made it his own, embracing his faster, highly ornamented features with a skill that reflected his innate virtuoso abilities. He loved Sligo’s jigs and reels, preferring them to polkas and slides from his native Sliabh Luachra.
In fact, some would say that the virtuoso qualities of his playing were such that Cronin was the only violinist to match or surpass the playing of Michael Coleman himself.
He returned to Killarney to live with his wife, Connie, in 1991, settled into local sessions effortlessly and was in demand at music festivals across the country.
Upon his return, he realized that everyone wanted to hear his Sliabh Luachra music and not that of his adopted Sligo style, so he undertook a second makeover, returning to the violin tunes he had learned decades more. early with Patrick O’Keeffe.
His playing was characterized by a unique quality: it was fresh, lively and delicately adorned, while being both beautifully sad and timeless at the same time. His musical talent was recognized in 2007, when he received the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Lifetime Achievement Award.
Paddy saw the role of the musician as performer as key. In 2007, in a Irish time interview, he said: “As long as you stay online, I don’t see why you can’t play along with the melody. If you want decent music, you have to find someone good to listen to. With a teacher like Pádraig O’Keeffe, we hit it off. He shortened the road for me endlessly.
Paddy was known as a man who said what he thought. When asked by a commercially successful musician if he would be willing to teach him some of his tunes, Paddy replied, “Stick to the shit you play because there is no money. in the real thing ”!
In recent years, he has enjoyed a successful musical partnership with guitarist Gearóid Ó Duinín, and the duo were due to perform in Ballyferriter’s Scoil Ceoil An Earraigh in February.
A short illness prevented him from doing so and he died on March 15. His passing is the biggest loss to Sliabh Luachra’s music since the death of Patrick O’Keeffe in 1963.
Paddy Cronin was born on July 6, 1925 and died on March 15, 2014.
He was predeceased by his wife, Connie. He is survived by his children, Michael, Patrick, Eileen, Vincent, Margot and Danny; by her sister, Kathy O’Donoghue, and her brother, Father Dan.