FRIENDS and family of Packie Manus Byrne, will come together in Ardara this weekend to celebrate the legendary folksinger, musician, songwriter and storyteller.
The highlight of the Packie Manus Byrne Centenary Weekend will be a concert featuring his songs and music on Saturday, February 18, on what would have been his 100th birthday.
Despite several bouts of ill health, Packie still managed to celebrate his birthdays with an evening of music and song right up until his 98th two years ago. On one such evening, Packie invited everyone present to come back in 2017, on the occasion of his 100th birthday, though he added with a mischievous grin that some people might not last that long.
Sadly, he was correct but it won’t stop the celebrations continuing, so on the weekend of February 17-19, the Packie Manus Centenary Weekend will continue the tradition of his annual birthday party, and many will gather to honour the man and his musical legacy.
Byrne was born on February 18, 1917 in the town-land of Corkermore half-way between Killybegs and Ardara, the youngest of the four children of Connell Byrne, a small farmer, and his wife Maria (nee Gallagher).
At 19 he emigrated to England. There he worked in many jobs, including as a railwayman, salesman and circus hand. From time to time to returned to Ireland. During one spell back home he worked for a cattle dealer and used to walk cattle from Pettigo to Derry and then accompany them on the boat to Scotland.
During a three year period when he was hospitalised with TB, he renewed his interest in traditional song and music. He won several singing competitions in the late 1950s, and then the All Ireland competition in 1962 and 1963. His singing was frequently broadcast by Radio Eireann.
From the mid 1960s he was a fixture on the English folk circuit. He also acted in the Ken Loach film Black Jack which won the Critics’ Award at Cannes in 1979.
In the late 1980s he retired to Donegal, where a steady stream of visitors made their way to his home in Ardara.
His autobiography, Recollections of a Donegal Man, was published in 1989, followed by a collection of his stories, My Friend Flanagan, in 1996. Packie’s singing was also included in The Voice of the People (1998), Topic Records’ landmark series of traditional music albums while the retrospective album Donegal and Back! was released in 1995.
The Packie Manus Byrne Centenary Weekend, takes place from February 17-19. All welcome.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (087(2941-406 for details.
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