Bobby Casey (1926-2000)
One of the big names of Irish fiddle playing, Bobby Casey was born at
the Crosses of Annagh near Miltown Malbay, Co Clare. He has lived in
London since 1952. His father John 'Scully' Casey,
who died when Bobby was 15 or 16, was a well-known fiddler as well as
being a flute and concertina player. Scully gave lessons to Junior Crehan, as did Scully's
cousin, the noted dance master Thady Casey. Bobby
in turn learned much of his playing from Junior Crehan and the two
remained lifelong friends. Bobby was also influenced by the playing of Michael
Coleman, Michael Gorman and Frank O'Higgins.
Along with Willie Clancy
he went to Dublin about 1950 where he met, among others, John Kelly and the Potts
He moved to London around 1952. He was a regular at the Sunday morning
sessions in the Favourite and Bedford Arms pubs which became rallying
points for Irish musicians and rural emigrants in the Sixties.
In 1959 Ita Crehan helped him record Casey
in the Cowhouse, literally recorded in an old cowhouse, and
which along with four other tracks are now available on tape.
"A musician's musician," is how Muiris O Rochain of
the Willie Clancy Summer School described him. He had an easygoing and
likeable personality. His style was described as gentle, "with an
exceptional flair for variation". With Seamus
Ennis, he performed at the first Willie Clancy Summer School
in 1973 and returned frequently to Miltown Malbay to give classes,
noted for their informal style where people came and went. In later
years he moved from London to live in Northampton. Died May 13, 2000,
and is buried in his native Clare. He was survived by his wife Ann, son
Sean and daughters Susan and Angela.
Taking Flight, Bobby Casey, Mulligan, 1979
Ceol an Cláir, Traditional Fiddle Music from West Clare, Bobby
Casey, John Kelly, Junior Crehan, Joe Ryan and Patrick Kelly, early
Casey in the Cowhouse, Bobby Casey, Claddagh. Released 1991.
Music of Bobby Casey: The Spirit of West Clare.
Paddy in the Smoke, Topic CD 1997.