All bard associates and followers are deeply saddened at the passing of the great Michael Quinn on Sunday 31 May. Mick was one of the cornerstones of the Bard festival for 21 years and never missed a final in all that time. Although best remembered for his ‘The man that shot the dog’ his compositions were many and his ability to gain complete mastery of his audience was unparalleled.
Michael (Mick) Quinn was born in 1926 in the townland of Carricknagowna between the south Armagh villages of Mullaghbawn and Belleek where he lived all his life. He was born into a family and community where music, dancing, singing and storytelling were valued modes of community entertainment. Like his father; John Ned Quinn, Mick has been long known as a traditional singer with a vast store of songs. Despite failing health in his 88th year, Mick was a regular guest at singing festivals and fleadhanna throughout Ireland and beyond. For many years he accompanied his singing with humorous stories based on the characters, events, turns of phrase and expressions of his youth and early adulthood. His stories, carefully constructed from a lifetime of experiences, evoke times and a way of life now gone, that, however continue to resonate with audiences, both young and old today.
Mick has enthralled audiences at singing festivals, fleadhanna ceoil, concerts and storytelling festivals with his unique style, well honed sense of timing, and humorous turn of phrase. His soothing stories, and the intricate web of subplots that accompany them led his audience on a meandering journey back in time. In a world of so much manufactured and shallow fabricated entertainment, Mick’s performances were always refreshing, natural, compelling, masterful and his natural charm always shone through. You knew you were in great company when Mick was about. We have to be thankful for the maestro’s generosity of spirit in leaving us with us with the great legacy of stories and songs to cherish and absorb.
Dearly loved and adored by his great family and held in the highest esteem by all who had the privilege to have known him, the gifted Michael Quinn was a man of integrity, honesty and humility, his likes will never be seen again.