‘The bigger the personality the bigger the loss’

The late Séamus Begley singing a lament in concert at the INEC Killarney.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

A book of condolences for the late Séamus Begley will open at the Dingle area office of Kerry County Council at Milltown, Dingle, this Wednesday at 10.00am.

Members of the public are welcome to sign the book during office hours.

The death of the gifted musician and singer, at the age of 73, has caused widespread shock and regret and it robs the country of one of its greatest and most loved traditional musicians.

From Baile na bPoc, in the heart of the Corca Dhuibhne Gaeltacht, Séamus had been hospitalised over the festive season but he was making a steady recovery and, in fact, his great friend and fellow musician, Sharon Shannon, shared a video on social media of him sitting up in his hospital bed, humming a song and in great form when she visited him.

She said he was an amazing musician and singer but, most of all, an amazing person.

“I’m totally lost for words to describe how much I loved him and idolised him and always will,” Sharon wrote.

Séamus Begley and his daughter Meabh performing at the INEC

“The loss is enormous for all who knew him. The bigger the personality the bigger the loss and Séamus lit up every room that he ever walked into with his incredible energy and music and hilarious sense of humour,” she added.

A great wit, a noted practical joker, a genius with an accordion and blessed with a magnificent singing voice, Séamus leaves behind a rich musical legacy through his many recordings for future generations to enjoy.

They include his early work with his sister, Máire, and the hugely successful collaborations with Steve Cooney and everything in between.

Seamus Begley and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh at a festival launch

A farmer and agricultural contractor by trade, and a member of a great musical family, Séamus started out playing alongside his brothers and sisters and he eventually teamed up with stars of the calibre of Mary Black, Glen Hansard, Jim Murray, Dolores Keane and Australian-Irish musician Steve Cooney with whom he struck up a great friendship and a successful 12-year working relationship, the highlight of which was performing at Glastonbury.

Leading the tributes, President Michael D Higgins said lovers of Irish music across the world will be saddened by the musician’s death.

“Séamus will be remembered as one of Ireland’s finest accordion players as well as a beautiful singer,” he said, adding that the man from Baile na bPoc performances had performed in Áras an Uachtaráin in 2019 for a State dinner held for the King and Queen of the Netherlands.

Séamus is survived by his wife, Mary. daughter, Breandán, Eoin, Niall and Méabh, siblings extended family, neighbours and friends.

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