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Neil Martin sitting beside Liam O'Flynn at a picnic table, with Liam's pipes places on the table.

Liam O’Flynn (1945–2018) : a tribute by Neil Martin

To mark the anniversary of the death of Liam O’Flynn, 14 March 2018, Neil Martin shares his memories of a deeply enriching friendship and musical journey with the master uilleann piper spanning over five decades.

Séamus Ennis; LP Cover Seoda Ceoil 2; Na Filí. Source: ITMA Image Collection

“Planxty was on the go and Liam’s music haunted and enthralled and moved me mightily. I remember Monday evenings sitting with my father in the kitchen listening to The Long Note and both of us in awe whenever Liam would be on – 'The Humours of Ballyloughlin', 'Johnny Cope', a host of vibrant reels, plangent airs, masterful hornpipes … the bar was set high.”

Neil Martin, 2022
lanxty Promotional Image. Source: ITMA Image Collection
Source: The Liam O'Flynn Collection ITMA

The wheels of the world, reel ; The pinch of snuff, reel ; Micho Russell's reel / Seán Keane, fiddle ; Matt Molloy, flute ; Liam O'Flynn, uilleann pipes

“That night, as every night, the anticipation and buzz before curtain-up was palpable and the subsequent electrical charge that shot around the pumped and primed audience as Liam shifted gear from 'The Raggle Taggle Gypsy' into 'Tabhair Dom Do Lámh' could have powered the national grid for a month.”

Neil Martin, 2022

No tongue can tell. Fourth movement. Sheltering sound / Liam O'Flynn, uilleann pipers ; Ulster Orchestra, instrumental music ; Neil Martin, composer

Liam O'Flynn and Seamus Heaney. Source: The Liam O'Flynn Collection at ITMA

Taisce 2013: Liam O'Flynn, Paddy Glackin, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Neil Martin / Source: ITMA Field Recording Collection

“A deeply-cherished memory, that Sunday afternoon. I listen to the phone recording of the piece from time to time, and so enjoy hearing Liam’s voice, just two words to Paddy at the very end - “good man”.”

Neil Martin, 2022

The boy in the Glen, air / West Ocean String Quartet, instrumental music ; composed by Neil Martin

“In all of this performing and touring across our thirty years, I never once stopped marvelling at Liam’s artistry, his vision, his craft. Being beside him on a stage was a privilege beyond words, sitting often to his left, drinking in that music, being transported time after time after time.”

Neil Martin, 2022

“He cared for the music he inherited and for the musicians that came before him and he never lost sight of the core of it all.”

Neil Martin, 2022

“Teacher, treasured friend, generous collaborator, a guiding light and the very finest of company on and off the stage – mo sheacht mbeannacht leat, Willie Flynn, a chara na gcarad. Go dté tú slán, pé áit ina bhfuil tú.”

Neil Martin, 2022