Paddy Fahy was an Irish fiddle player and composer from Kilconnell, County Galway, Ireland. He played the fiddle in a lyrical and expressive style associated with East Galway. A prolific composer, he composed over 60 tunes, many of which have become staples of the tradition.

From a musical family, he began playing the fiddle at the age of five. His father, Jack Fahy, was a notable fiddle player and founder of the Aughrim Slopes Céilí Band. There was often music and set dancing in the large ballroom of their home, Killaghbeg House.

Paddy Fahy’s music is a statement of beauty, refinement and elegance. Ones fiddle never sounds so good as when playing one of his tunes. What a beautiful legacy of music he has left us.

Martin Hayes

A greatly influential fiddler, Fahy was renowned for his distinctive style characterized by a smooth, flowing technique and a preference for the lower, sweeter tones of the fiddle. He had a unique approach to ornamentation and phrasing and his style was deeply rooted in the East Galway musical tradition.

As a composer, Paddy Fahy left an indelible mark on Irish traditional music. He composed over 60 tunes, many of which have become standards in the repertoire. Fahy’s tunes are distinguished by intricate melodies, long phrases, arpeggios, and often minor keys. His compositions are known for their lyrical quality and he is considered a leading figure in the East Galway style.

Despite his influence and talent, he was known for being modest and somewhat reclusive, avoiding the limelight and rarely recording. This has led to a situation where much of his music has been passed down orally, contributing to the aura of mystery surrounding his work. He did not name his tunes and did not publish or record them himself; several appear in Breatnach’s Ceol Rince na hEireann series and many have been recorded by other musicians. His compositions were also documented in a thesis by Maria Holohan.

He received the first TG4 Gradam Ceoil composer award in 2001 and was honored by the Galway School of Traditional Music.

Going Further

The Instruments of Irish Traditional Music

Ornamentation in Irish Music

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