Joe Burke (1939–2021)

The Irish Traditional Music Archive greatly regrets the recent death of Joe Burke of Kilnadeema, Loughrea, Co Galway. We would like to express our deepest sympathies to Anne Conroy Burke, Joe's wife and musical partner.

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Joe Burke (1939–2021). Image: Tony Kearns

Joe Burke will be forever remembered as one of the most influential accordion players of his time. His lifelong passion for Irish traditional music was infectious to anyone who had the good fortune to speak or play with him.

As well as being an outstanding traditional musician, he was extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of the music, its history and development. In addition to the release of many outstanding recordings, his long and productive career included performance, teaching, and the presenting of concerts and programmes on both radio and television.

Renowned for his humour and wit, Joe was excellent company. 

Speaking to him on the phone earlier this week, the conversation ranged from Michael Coleman to Fritz Kreisler to Albert Einstein and we were even interrupted at one point by a barking Patsy Touhey —Joe's pet dog!
                                                                  Liam O'Connor, ITMA Director

Ever generous, Joe in recent months worked with ITMA on making previously unreleased private recordings of Michael Coleman available to the public. His acetates were digitised, preserved and shared with the public on Valentine's Day 2021. On the RTÉ Radio 1 Rolling Wave programme, Joe spoke about his relief and excitement at having delivered on one of his final musical ambitions. 

I have treasured these recordings all these years. The release of these highly rare recordings is a dream come true for me and I am very happy to be a part of it.                                                                                Joe Burke, February 2021     

ITMA would like to express our deepest sympathies to Anne Conroy Burke, Joe's wife and musical partner, and to thank her for all her help in recent months. 

Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann. 

Foireann ITMA