With great sadness, I find myself writing about the passing of Iain Baird on 14 November 2015, aged 65.
Fred’s death in November robbed us of a very knowledgeable, well read, likeable man who was admired by those who knew him. The twin passions of his life were socialism and traditional music and it is the latter that we are concerned with here.
Marian passed away unexpectedly on November 3rd at the age of 74. She had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about three years ago, but had been in comparatively good health and had enjoyed the Memorial Concert for her late husband, Pete, a few weeks earlier.
Keith was a familiar figure at folk venues throughout South Wales and sometimes beyond as he sought to sell copies of the magazine, Taplas, that he founded in 1982.
Flora MacNeil was one of the giants of Scotland’s folk revival. Just as the singers who sing in Scots acknowledge the influence of Jeannie Robertson, all of the current generation of Gaelic singers acknowledge their debt to Flora MacNeil.
The last sounds he heard in this world were the same as the first sounds that greeted him on entering it 88 years before, the sound of singing, of traditional song. That which welcomed him then, came to welcome him again. The evening before he died in Daisy Hill hospital on the 30 May 2015, the family of Michael “Mick” Quinn, of Conway Park, Mullaghbawn, one of South Armagh’s greatest cultural personalities, gathered around his bed and at his request sang song after favourite song.
Packie Byrne was born in Corkermore, Co. Donegal, on 18th February 1917, the youngest of four children. His parents, Con and Maria, were great lovers of traditional songs and had a vast store of them. And so the family cottage often rang with music, as friends and neighbours gathered for an evening of shared tunes, songs, dances and stories. In this enriching soil, Packie flourished.
Roy Palmer, who died on 26 February 2015, was a dedicated collector and disseminator of traditional songs, folklore, and of the ephemeral detail that fills the spaces in the history of ordinary people. Though his name is familiar to the thousands of people who read his books and the articles that he wrote for magazines and journals, he was a private person who, while he appreciated the recognition that he received, was content to plough his own furrow in his own way.
Bob passed away on 5 March 2015. Known to all as “Scotch Bob”, there are few who knew him who would not recognise him by his voice. He never lost his Glaswegian accent which, to the English ear, always seemed to make “hello” sound like a threat! His singing was a distinctive rich baritone which could be heard above all, even in the noisiest of pubs.
It's with great sadness that we have lost another stalwart of the Folk Revival. John was a dear friend and neighbour up here in the beautiful Scottish Borders. I will miss him and his crazy stories very much. He was a man with incredible energy and charm who lived every day like it was his first and last!