Mickey Finn (Irish fiddler)

Mickey Finn (31 December 1951 – 15 April 1987[1]) was a traditional Irish fiddler. He was a fixture in Galway's traditional music scene during the 1970s and 1980s, playing with artists such as Mary Coughlan, Mick Lally, and Christy Moore.

Mickey Finn
Mickey Finn with Padraig O'Conaire in Eyre Square, 1980's.jpg
Mickey Finn
Background information
Born(1951-12-31)31 December 1951
Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland
Died15 April 1987(1987-04-15) (aged 35)
GenresFolk, traditional Irish music
Associated actsDicklerfitz

Early lifeEdit

Finn was born in Callan, County Kilkenny.[1] He began learning the fiddle in the early 1960s. After his family moved to Ballinrobe, County Mayo in 1963, he was taken under the wing of a Christian Brothers School brother, Brother Forrestal, who trained him in the fiddle style of Sligo fiddler Michael Coleman. The Ballinrobe trio of Mickey (fiddle), along with Joe Heneghan (piano) and Seamus O'Malley (accordion) finished 2nd in the 1965 All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil Finals (Under 14 Instrumental Trio) in Thurles. Mickey also came 3rd in Ireland (Under 14 Individual fiddle) at the same Fleadh Cheoil finals. They had qualified from the 1965 Connacht Fleadh Cheoil finals in Foxford, Co. Mayo.[2]


In Galway in 1970, Finn played in traditional music sessions, particularly at the Cellar Bar,[1][3] and became popular for his rock/traditional/jazz fusion style, never playing a traditional tune exactly the same way twice.[citation needed] In an interview with Kevin McGuire in the Galway Advertiser, Frankie Gavin told of the Cellar Bar sessions, believing Finn to be an influence on contemporary musicians in Galway.[citation needed]


Finn's Cellar Bar sessions also included actor Mick Lally, who was at that time more noted for his singing than for his acting. Lally was a great singer of comedy songs in the sean-nós style.[4][5]

Internationally renowned Galway-born blues singer Mary Coughlan was also a close personal friend of Finn. When she recorded a version of Johnny Mulhern's `Delaney's Gone Back On The Wine' she dedicated the song to him .[citation needed]


In the early 1970s, Finn joined singer and guitarist Terry Smith to form the group Dicklerfitz with flute player Mick Treacy, and later, in 1974, with multi-instrumentallist Alec Finn (no relation). Frankie Gavin (fiddler) [6][7][8][9] took part in the group's sessions, as did Gerry Carthy (www.gerrycarthy.com), Pete Galligan, Charlie Harris, Johnny (Ringo) McDonagh, Sean Tyrrell, Jerry Mulvihill, and singers Dolores Keane, Mary Coughlan and Mary Staunton; from these sessions, the group De Dannan was formed.[citation needed] In 1976 Dicklerfitz supported Planxty in Galway.

Christy MooreEdit

Christy Moore has memories of those Galway days. On listening to the Johnny Mulhern song Hard Cases, Moore remarks on his Christy-Chat website how it brought him back to the Cellar Bar days in Galway.[citation needed] Moore also mentions Finn in his song "Sodom & Begorrah".[citation needed] In August 1987, Moore dedicated "Hard Cases" to Finn,[citation needed] saying that going to Galway would never be the same again without Mickey.


Finn appeared in the 1985 Welsh-language TV film Pair of Shoes (Pâr o Sgidiau), comedy-drama road movie[10] starring Neil Tobín, James Bartley and David Kelly.[citation needed] He also appeared in the Bob Quinn film Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoire (1975).[citation needed] The only known videos of Finn are from these two films.

In March 2008, No Cure for Mickey Finn a biographical radio broadcast on RTÉ described his music, personality, and "the symbiotic relationship between traditional music and alcohol". [11] The program was nominated for the RTÉ Prix Europa 2008 awards.[12]


Finn came from a musical family; his parents were accomplished piano players, his father Bill being a composer of tunes. One of Bill's tunes, which was re-arranged by Finn into a Slow-Air, became known as "Mickey Finn's Air" after Finn's death and was recorded by tin whistler Seán Ryan for his CD Minstrel's Fancy(1995) and by Alec Finn on his CD Blue Shamrock (1995). Bill Finn is credited on the sleeve notes of these recordings.

Finn was survived by his wife Lena Ullman, who plays five-string banjo with the Americana band Moonshine,[13] daughter Sadie; two brothers, Billy (who plays flute, whistles, and pipes) and Johnny (guitarist and singer/songwriter); and sisters, Elizabeth (singer), Mary (singer) and Jackie (piano player and singer).[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c Sound Scene, Margaret Collins, 23 April 1987 The Galway Advertiser archive, retrieved 20 February 2011
  2. ^ Western People May 22, 1965 p8 Connacht Foxford and Western People June 12, 1965 p13 All-Ireland Thurles
  3. ^ RTE radio biography, retrieved 20 February 2011
  4. ^ Mick Lally - a man without measure (obituary) Galway Advertiser Kernan Andrews 2 September 2010."As a passionate Irish speaker, he was often to be heard singing a sean nós song or telling a folk tale."
  5. ^ "Well, Holy God! Mick Lally to be celebrated with major concert at Monroe’s Live" By Kevin Mcguire Galway Advertiser 16 December 2010 "He loved his comic songs and he had a vast collection of them. Mick would sing at the drop of a hat"
  6. ^ Frankie Gavin – ramblinghouse.com Archived 18 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 20 February 2011
  7. ^ Frankie Gavin – Galway Advertiser 20 December 2007, retrieved 20 February 2011
  8. ^ Frankie Gavin - dublinks.com Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 20 February 2011
  9. ^ Frankie Gavin – dedannan.com, retrieved 20 February 2011
  10. ^ Prosiect Teliesyn Archived 23 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine listing of productions
  11. ^ RTE radio biography, retrieved 20 February 2011
  12. ^ RTE Prix Europa 2008 awards - "No Cure for Mickey Finn" Archived 20 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 20 February 2011
  13. ^ Moonshine - kamcollective.com Archived 13 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 21 February 2011





http://www.gaelport.com/sonrai-nuachta?NewsItemID=5397[permanent dead link]


http://www.nattceol.org/wiki/tiki-print.php?page=Minstrel's%20Fancy[permanent dead link]




External linksEdit