Donegal fiddle legend Tommy Peoples has died

To be buried in Ennis on Tuesday

Renowned Donegal fiddle player and composer, Tommy Peoples of Tinny Cally, St Johnston, has died.

There is a great sense of sadness at his death locally and nationally as he was regarded as one of the finest fiddle players in the country.

He was born near St Johnston in 1948, into a musical family. His grandfather, Jimmy Peoples, his uncles Mattha and George Peoples and some cousins such as Joe Cassidy and Bob Peoples were fiddle players.

An original founder member of The Bothy Band, he was recognised by his peers for his musical genius.

He was awarded the first TG4 Traditional Musician of the Year Award in 1998.

In 2013 he received the Composer of the Year award, becoming the first to receive a second Gradam in the TG4 awards.

He was the Traditional Musician In Residence at The Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey and his contribution to Donegal fiddle playing, he was famed for his East Donegal playing style, was recognised by Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí.

His remains will repose at his residence in Tinny Cally, St Johnston, this Saturday evening from 7 o clock.

Hie funeral mass and burial will take place in Ennis, County Clare on Tuesday next, the 7th of August.

About Tommy

According to his website,, he had his first fiddle lessons from his older first cousin, Joe Cassidy, who had been taught by their grandfather, Jimmy Peoples.

There was an extremely strong fiddle tradition in the area with many excellent players in Tommy’s father’s generation. Tommy moved to Dublin in 1965 and his involvement in traditional music led to participation in groups such as the Green Linnet Céilí Band, 1691, and The Bothy Band, as well as solo performance.

He lived in County Clare for over 30 years where he found friendship in the generous hearts and the traditional music ethos of that county. Tommy was drawn to composition in those early years, and many of his compositions filtered freely into the vast and varied traditional repertoire.

In July 2015 he published his collected compositions with a text that tells a story of the melody titles, a sort of ‘shine a light’ hearted social history. The book, entitled Óam Go hAm – From Time to Time, included a tutorial section essentially offering a comprehensive break-down of Tommy’s unique personal style. It also included original drawings and artwork by Tommy.

May he rest in peace.

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