Because his playing was so identified with the “east Clare” style, Canny’s passing is an important moment in Irish traditional music. He was born in 1919 into a musical family (his father was a fiddle player) and had music all around him from a young age. In 1947, he became one of the founding members of the infamous Tulla Ceili Band (that’s him, 3rd from left, I believe):
He was a Tulla Band member when he won an all-Ireland fiddle title in 1953 and was with them when the Tulla group recorded in 1958 (check out Echoes of Erin; Dublin Records DU-LP-1000). His seminal recording happened in 1959, when, along with PJ Hayes, Peader O’Loughlin and Bridie Lafferty, he recorded All Ireland Champion (Dublin DU-1003), one of the very finest albums ever made of Irish traditional music. (Shanachie reissued this album under the title An Historic Recording of Irish Traditional Music; Shanachie 76001–it is available on iTunes.) Later (late 50s-early 60s), Canny made a few 78rpm records for the Irish Gael-Linn label (these have been reissued on the Seoltaí Séidte box set; Gael-Linn CEFCD 184) and then, not a whole lot. For years, it seems, he shied away from recording. This changed in the 1990s–he appeared on concertina player Gearoid O’hAllmhurain’s album Traditional Music from Clare and Beyond (Celtic Crossings – OWR 0046) and made a solo record of his own in the mid-1990s (Paddy Canny: Traditional Music from the Legendary East Clare Fiddle; Cló Iar-Chonnachta CICD 129) but as far as places to hear his playing there’s not a whole lot out there.
Despite the relative paucity of recordings, Canny’s influence on a generation of musicians was incredibly strong and is one of those players everyone should be aware of. His passing is a great loss. The video above of of him playing with Frankie Gavin of De Dannan fame. Enjoy!