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Clare loses another music powerhouse in Brendan Mulkere

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Famous fiddle-player and teacher, Brendan Mulkere has died, he had tutored generations of musicians in London from the 1970s onwards.

Brendan comes from a family of musicians and teachers. His father, Jack Mulkere was a music teacher and farmer in Kiltartan, South Galway. Jack was also a colleague of Paddy Fahy and Paddy Kelly who set up the Aughrim Slopes Céilí Band. Stretching back another generation, Brendan’s grandfather, Pat, was one of the last known hedge-school masters and worked on translating myths and legends with W.B Yeats and Lady Gregory at Coole House.

Mr. Mulkere worked as a teacher at both primary and secondary levels, having moved over to London from his homestead in Clare, where he was born in 1947, he taught his craft in Bedford, Luton and St. Albans. He decided to leave his teaching duties in Hampstead in 1979 in order to allow his traditional music classes to flourish.

Brendan left his imprint on several generations of musicians emerging from London due to his unified love for both teaching and performing. Outside of teaching, Brendan would organise traditional music concerts. In 1974, he established Inchecronin Records, most notable for releasing the album Memories of Sligo by flute-player Roger Sherlock. He held a number of prominent positions throughout his career, working on the traditional Irish music programme of the European City of Culture Festival in 1979.

Four years later he founded the London Irish Commission for Culture and Education. He taught at the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith as part of the Mulkere Academy of Irish Music as well as the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick for almost twenty years.

Brendan’s genius was reflected in his ability to teach a number of different instruments such as the fiddle, box, banjo and whistle. His teachings were significant in the spread and revival of Irish music and culture in London during the 1970s. Among the many musicians that were lucky to have received musical tuition from Brendan were John Carty, Niall Keegan, John Blake, Claire Egan, John Whelan and Lamond Gillespie.

Brendan’s outstanding contribution to traditional Irish music was marked with a TG4 Gradam Cheoil Award in 2019. Brendan was described as ‘”a pivotal member of the Irish diaspora in London. Clare man Brendan Mulkere has worn many hats – as the unofficial ‘Irish music ambassador’ to London; Irish rights activist, record producer, promoter and musician. Despite all of this, he is perhaps best known as an Irish traditional music teacher. It’s safe to say that every London-born, Irish traditional musician has been pulled into his orbit at some stage or another… And, he has helped to put the London style of Irish traditional music firmly on the map.”

Brendan died peacefully at home, surrounded by his loved ones. Predeceased by his brother Kieran. Sadly missed by his partner Sharon and her daughters Claire, Collette and Sinead, sisters Hilda, Florence and Frances, brothers Des and Enda, brothers in law, sisters in law, nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours and friends.

Funeral mass for family and close friends will take place in Ennis Cathedral on Sunday at 2pm, followed by a burial in Drumcliffe Cemetery. In accordance with government guidelines, the mass will be a private affair

An avid reader from a young age, Cian’s love of the archives has been shared by Clare Echo readers who enjoy his Reeling in The Years section. Charles Dickens, Terry Pratchett and Michael Crichton were his favourites writers in his younger years while he was always a fan of studying the opinion columns in The Irish Independent. A past pupil of Lissycasey National School and St Flannan’s College, he is currently completing his final year studies at the University of Limerick in New Media and English. From September, he will be commencing a Masters Degree in Journalism at UL.

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