Alec Finn

Alexander J. Phinn (4 June 1944 – 16 November 2018[1]), known professionally as Alec Finn, was a British-born traditional musician who is famous for his unique style of accompaniment on the bouzouki. He was best known for founding De Dannan with Frankie Gavin, Ringo MacDonagh and Charlie Piggott after a series of music sessions at Tigh Hughes, An Spidéal, Co. Galway in 1975.

Alec Finn
Alec Finn on stage with De Dannan at the 1985 Trowbridge Folk Festival
Alec Finn on stage with De Dannan at the 1985 Trowbridge Folk Festival
Background information
Birth nameAlexander J. Phinn
Born(1944-06-04)4 June 1944
Rotherham, West Riding, England, United Kingdom
Died16 November 2018(2018-11-16) (aged 74)
GenresIrish traditional music
Years active1970s–2018
Associated actsDe Dannan
Frankie Gavin


Finn took up the bouzouki in the 1970s. In contrast to most Irish players, he played a round-backed Greek bouzouki, one of the older-style trichordo three course (six string) instruments tuned DAD. The Greek tuning gave him a versatile modal rhythmic background on which to create counterpoint to the melody.[2] In the late 1970s and early 80s, he accompanied several prominent Irish instrumentalists including Frankie Gavin, Mary Bergin and Noel Hill. He performed with De Dannan up to its dissolution in 2003.

After the dissolution of the group, Finn copyrighted the name De Danann (note the slightly different spelling). Ironically, a dispute arose in July 2009 with his former colleague Frankie Gavin for using the name De Dannan for the Frankie Gavin Quartet, a group which had been in existence parallel to De Dannan since 1991.

Finn, along with fellow original De Danann member Johnny "Ringo" McDonagh, had recently reformed De Danann with banjoist/keyboardist Brian McGrath, accordionist Derek Hickey, fiddler Mick Conneely, and singer Eleanor Shanley.

Family and nameEdit

Alec Finn was the older brother of the author Gervase Phinn. He changed the spelling of his surname from Phinn to Finn upon moving to Ireland from his childhood home in Rotherham, West Riding.



  • Long, Harry. (2005). The Waltons Guide to Irish Music: A Comprehensive A-Z Guide to Irish and Celtic Music in All Its Forms, Waltons Publishing, Dublin, Ireland, p. 136-7, ISBN 1-85720-177-9.
  • Phinn, Gervase. (2010) Road to the Dales. The Story of a Yorkshire Lad. Michael Joseph Ltd., ISBN 978-0718149116
  • Wallis, Geoff & Sue Wilson. (2001). The Rough Guide to Irish Music, Rough Guides, London, England, p. 377-9, ISBN 1-85828-642-5.
  • Alec Finn on De Dannan, Phil Lynott, and bouzoukis by Kevin Mcguire, Galway Advertiser June 11, 2009.
  • Alec Finn says De Dannan are not coming out of retirement Hot Press July 23, 2009.
  1. ^ "Alec Finn obituary: Musical colossus who founded De Danann". December 1, 2018. Archived from the original on December 6, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  2. ^ "Interview with Andy Irvine". Archived from the original on 2010-10-25. Retrieved 2010-10-28.