Tributes paid at the passing of acclaimed folk singer Mary McPartlan

Galway Daily news Tributes paid at the passing of acclaimed folk singer Mary McPartlan
Mary McPartlan photographed by Aengus McMahon

Tributes have been paid to acclaimed folk singer Mary McPartlan, who has passed away from cancer at age 65.

A native of Drumkerrin, Co. Leitrim, the Mary McPartlan played a big role in the arts in Galway, going beyond music to work in theatre and promoting the arts at NUIG, where she served most recently as Creative Director of the Arts in Action Programme.

Her singing career began in the 1970s a part of the folk duo Calypso.

The chorus of tributes today have been led by President Michael D Higgins.

“It is with deep sadness that Sabina and I have heard of the death of a dear friend, Mary McPartlan, musical director, broadcaster, and one of Ireland’s great folk singers.”

President Higgins praised McPartlan for the incredible impact she had on the arts and music scene in Galway and beyond, from her work with Skehana theatre company and Riabhóg singers club, to the national Irish music centre in Ennis.

She also played a role in the introduction of the music show FLOSC on TG4 and the Gradam Ceoil National Traditional Music Awards.

“Acutely aware of the history of Irish music, song, dance and culture, Mary McPartlan brought the truth of emotion and empathy to her singing”.

“Her acclaimed debut album ‘The Holland Handkerchief’ established her as one of the greatest traditional singers of her generation, but there are so many songs including ‘Wild Mountain Side’. Her invocation of place, history and feeling was unique.”

“Sabina and I were among the many who were privileged to call her our friend, and we will all miss her so much.

“For myself, I will always hold wonderful memories of being on tour with her and of her singing her tribute to Victor Jara at those five gigs we did together in 2011.”

“Later I often admired how brave she was, indomitable, transcending loss and adversity with a nobility of heart and a powerful reach of humanity that was of course always there in her singing and in her life.”


image credit: Aengus McMahon/NUIG