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Statement by President Higgins on the death of Mary McPartlan

Date: Mon 6th Apr, 2020 | 13:57

“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.

She leaves a legacy of achievement for the arts that will endure.

She played an important role in so many initiatives, including the music show FLOSC on TG4 and the introduction of the Gradam Ceoil National Traditional Music Awards.

As founder member and producer, she was also pivotal in the Galway theatre company Skehana, the Galway singers club Riabhóg, the Galway Youth Theatre and Glór, the national Irish music centre in Ennis.

Acutely aware of the history of Irish music, song, dance and culture, Mary McPartlan brought the truth of emotion and empathy to her singing, and 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 in Leitrim, Donegal, Wicklow and Kerry; the wonderful company she was; and 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.

Sabina and I send our deepest condolences to Paddy, Mairéad, Meabh and all of Mary's family and many friends, and to all those who worked with her and shared her invaluable and original contributions to Irish culture.

Síocháin shíoraí dá hanam lách uasal.”