Joe Burke - Giant of the Button Accordion

24 February 2021, 12:02 PM GMT

Joe Burke - Giant of the Button Accordion

Tributes have been pouring in from around the world since the sad news broke of the passing of master accordion player Joe Burke who passed away peacefully on Saturday 20h February 2021 surrounded by his family at the Galway Hospice. Born in 1939 in Kilnadeema, Loughrea he began playing at the age of four, Joe won the All-Ireland Senior Accordion Championship in Thurles in 1959 and in 1960 in Boyle. Performing and recording music for over 70 years he was acclaimed by audiences worldwide for his style and technique. Having won many awards for his music, in 1970 he was RTÉ’s Traditional Musician of the Year, and was honoured by Boston College in 2000 for his musical mastery. In 2003 he received “Gradam an Chomhaltais” at a special ceremony held in his honour at the Comhaltas headquarters in Monkstown, Co. Dublin. While Joe was also proficient on the fiddle, tin whistle, flute and uilleann pipes, he became nationally and internationally known as the musical giant of the button accordion. He was a founding member of the Leitrim Ceili Band in 1956 and they went on to win the All Ireland title in Gorey in 1962 . Joe’s first solo LP, “Galway’s Own”, was released in 1971 to great acclaim, and in the years that followed he released numerous musical gems. Joe lived in the USA from 1988 to 1991, returning to east Galway in 1992 where he set up a music school with his wife Anne Conroy where he continued to teach and perform up to very recently. Joe has left a huge archive of music, but he will also be remembered for his remarkable teaching skills and the love for the music he was able to instil in his countless young students, a legacy that will continue to inspire. Siobhán Ní Chonaráin of Comhaltas described Joe as the most engaging of personalities, a raconteur with an incredibly sharp and humorous wit; a people’s person. Joe and Anne always made time for and gave time to people, whether at a concert or on the streets at a Fleadh. Their accessibility, availability and welcome towards others brought happiness into the lives of so many people, Siobhán said. Have a look at this video clip from the Fleadh in Clonmel in 1994, Pat Butler, introducing the on-street session featuring Joe and Anne with piper Michael Cooney, described Joe as ‘the spirit of the Fleadh incarnate himself, that says it all.

Posted By Eolas

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Joe Burke