#OTD in 1971 – Death of Seán Ó Riada, founder, composer, and arranger for the Chieftains.

A true Irish Gift to the world, Seán Ó Riada left the world at the terribly young age of 40.

One of Ireland’s finest composers and a major influence on traditional Irish music, Seán Ó Riada (John Reidy) was born in West Cork in 1931. Ó Riada’s love of music came from parents who were both competent traditional fiddlers.

“My father had a wonderful store of music. I remember him telling me that he would walk seven miles, and do a day’s work, to learn a tune.”

After travelling in Europe for a number of years, Ó Riada became musical director of Dublin’s famed Abbey Theatre for a number of years. His most famous composition is probably the score for the film Mise Éire (I am Ireland). Ó Riada started a traditional Irish “band” called Ceoltóirí Chualann whch morphed into the Chieftains following his death.

He composed Mná na hÉireann (Women of Ireland). Guided by his vision, traditional music changed radically, and became accessible to a modern Irish audience, and through this traditional music, the cultural life of Ireland was invigorated.

Featured Image: Seán Ó Riada Sculpture in Cúil Aodha church yard

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