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A white-haired Ben Lennon sitting with a fiddle in his hand.

Ben Lennon (1928–2020) : The Grand Gentleman of Irish Traditional Music

Earlier this year Ben Lennon, the renowned fiddle player from Co. Leitrim, passed away at the age of 91. This blog by Alan Woods looks back over the life and music of a much loved member of the Irish traditional music community.

“If ever there was a grand gentleman of Irish traditional music, the honour should be his.”

Vallely & Piggott, 2008, p. 113
L-R: Patsy Lennon (née Eames), Ben Lennon, Thomas Feely (courtesy of Jim Connolly & Eugene Meehan)
Ben Lennon outside the post office in Rossinver (courtesy of Nutan Jacques Piraprez)

“When I come into Miltown, time stands still. I don’t look at the watch, I don’t look at the newspaper, I don’t listen to the radio [...] a standstill week. And when I leave on the Saturday, my head is just full of music. Tunes bubbling in my head, I get into the car and I drive out the Ennis Road, and I might stop to get petrol in Ennis and I get out and go into the supermarket and then ‘oh my God’ back to reality, what an awful thought.”

Ben Lennon, SSWC 2009

The girls of Banbridge, jig ; Larry the beer drinker, jig / Maurice, Ben and Charlie Lennon

Gilbride's pub, Rossinver, Co. Leitrim. 7 March 2020 (courtesy of Annie Quinn, Tara Diamond & Gerry McKenna)

“Phrasing is what it is all about. That’s where Coleman had a mastery. (5)”

Ben Lennon, (Vallely, 2011, p.69)

Speech about the importance of musicians having personal identity in their music / Ben Lennon

Speech about bowing style and demonstration of bowing technique ; The mountain top, reel ; Callaghan's, reel / Ben Lennon

Top L-R: CC51CD, 1989 ; CEFCD167, 1994 ; Bottom L-R: CICD139, 1999 ; CICD174, 2008
The Tailors Twist, FOBL, 2011 (courtesy of Nutan Jacques Piraprez)
Tara Diamond & Ben Lennon. Gilbride's pub, Rossinver. 7 March 2020 (courtesy of Dermot Diamond)

The blackthorn stick, reel ; [unidentified], reel / Ben Lennon, fiddle, Michael NcNamara, flute, & John McGuinness, bodhrán

Ben Lennon & Jim Connolly (courtesy of Jim Connolly & Eugene Meehan)
Ben Lennon and Máire O'Keeffe (courtesy of Nutan Jacques Piraprez)
Ben Lennon & Jim Connolly fishing on Lough Melvin (courtesy of Nutan Jacques Piraprez)
Liam O'Connor & Ben Lennon at the Joe Mooney Summer School (courtesy of Liam O'Connor)
Ben & Charlie Lennon at the Joe Mooney Summer School 2019 (courtesy of Philip O'Connor)

“Every note has a sweet spot. You should always try to find the sweet spot.”

Ben Lennon