SEAMUS ENNIS BIOGRAPHY

Séamus Ennis, Uilleann Piper, Folklore and Music Collector, was born in 1919 in Finglas, Dublin. His father, James Ennis, was a prize-winning musician on several instruments including the Flute and Uilleann Pipes, and was also a champion Irish dancer. His mother, Mary Josephine Ennis was an accomplished fiddle player.

When Séamus left school, in the early 1940's he would travel the country as music archivist for the Irish Folklore Commission. In 1946 he successfully applied for a job in Radio Eireann as an Outside Broadcast Officer, it wasn't long before Séamus proved himself to be a skilled presenter. On a visit to Clare in 1949, he recorded the playing of the legendary Willie Clancy, Bobby Casey, Sean Reid, Martin Talty and Micho Russell. During the 1950's Séamus moved to London to work with the BBC on a scheme aimed at recording extensively the surviving folk culture of England, Scotland and Wales.

Séamus continued to perform around Ireland during the 1960s and played at the first meeting of 'Na Piobairi Uileann' in 1968. In the early 1970s he shared accommodation with Uilleann Piper Liam O'Flynn in Dublin. During that time they formed The Halfpenny Bridge Quartet, with Liam on the pipes, Tommy Grogan on accordion and Sean Keane on Fiddle. Séamus had a lasting impression on Liam who was in awe of his knowledge and expertise. Séamus bequeathed his Uilleann Pipes to Liam.

Séamus continued playing around Ireland and overseas right up to the time he lost his battle with cancer in October 1982 aged 63. Some of his last performances included the Willie Clancy Summer School and the Lisdoonvarna Folk Festival.

 
Seamus Ennis photo

 

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