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KILFENORA native, John Lynch was honoured for outstanding achievement in banjo at this year’s Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

Leader of the Kilfenora Céilí Band for close to three decades, John received the Mike Flanagan Award for Outstanding Achievement in Banjo at St Paul’s Church in Mullingar with a special concert held for the Fleadh Cheoil on Saturday last.

A golden era of Irish music in America is celebrated through the annual Flanagan Brothers Award Concert. Mike and Joe Flanagan were two of the most talented Irish born musicians ever to perform in America. Their song and tune material was vast and novel. They played everything from Irish dance tune medleys to songs and comic routines from vaudeville. Their recording output was prodigious and set a level for exuberance and instrumental virtuosity that stands to this day

John’s grandfather, John-Joe was one of the Kilfenora’s founding members in 1909. His father, aunt and uncle were all part of the Band’s next chapter from the 1950s.

As well as being the band’s leader, he is also the banjo player, an instrument he only took up at the age of 23. He was part of the Band which entered the Fleadh for the first time in 1992 and later claimed a three in a row of All-Ireland titles in 1993, 1994 and 1995, seven of the original ten members from 95 are still in the Band.

1995 saw John and his wife move back to Clare, having lived in Kildare where he worked as a teacher. The Kilfenora also performed on RTÉ’s Up for The Match ahead of Clare’s senior hurlers managed by Ger Loughnane winning the All-Ireland SHC for the first time in 81 years.

Now based in Clarecastle, John said of his latest accolade, “I feel very humbled by it, to be honest. I feel like there are people out there who are much more deserving of it than I. I feel like the reason I’m probably getting it is because of the band and the association with the band”.

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