1946 - 2009
Séamus Creagh was born in Killucan, County Westmeath in 1946. His early musical education was an introduction to dance band violin from his neighbour Larry Ward. A brief excursion with a ballad group in Dublin where he played guitar, brought him closer to the traditional fold. In the early sixties he spent many a night in O’Donoghues Pub with Ted Furey, the fiddler who was a vital bridge between the Irish ballad and traditional scene. Then in 1967 he made trip to Baltimore in West Cork, just for a weekend, but he never escaped the pull of Cork. Back in Cork in the late sixties Séamus began playing with world renowned accordion player Jackie Daly at CCE sessions in the Country Club Hotel. This opened his ears to the music of Slaibh Luachra. As Séamus was wont to say: “When I heard Jackie playing it was like nothing I heard before. There were plenty of fellas that owned boxes but very few box players.” There followed a ten year partnership that was to be marked by the 1977 Gael Linn album “Jackie Daly and Séamus Creagh.” This album is now generally acknowledged as one of the seminal recordings of the music of Sliabh Luachra. Playing for dancers in The Phoenix Pub in Cork City, sessions in Baile Mhuirne and Ovens changed all that. It was there he linked the dances to the tunes, and the result was his deft and sensitive touch with the repertoire.
Not all Séamus’ time was spent in Ireland’s largest county. He lived for five years in Newfoundland and Labrador. Séamus came to perform and teach his craft throughout our province from 1987 to 1992. He performed as a member of Newfoundland Traditional Group “Tickle Harbour,” and can be heard on their critically acclaimed album “The Brule Boys in Paris.” It was during this stay Séamus also recorded his solo recording “Came the Dawn” at Dadyeen Studios in St. John’s. Both this album and Séamus’ influence from live performance and lessons were a large influence on a whole generation of Newfoundland Traditional Musicians.
In 2000, after having resumed permanent residence in Cork for 8 years, Séamus met young Newfoundland accordion player Graham Wells. Séamus and Graham had the idea to make a recording of Traditional Music from both Newfoundland and Ireland. The result was the 2002 album “Island to Island.” This album, recorded in both Newfoundland and Ireland was the first of its kind to showcase the close relationship between the two Traditions. Séamus continued to be one of Ireland’s leading exponents on the fiddle. He was a teacher, composer, and master musician. His last release, 2009′s “Tunes for Practice,” is the final addition to a legacy in Traditional Music that lasted over 40 years. His untimely death was a great loss to both Irish and Newfoundland Traditional Music.
It is through Féile Séamus Creagh we will pay tribute to Séamus’ great contribution to the Irish and Newfoundland musical traditions.