Academic journal article Folk Music Journal

John Campbell (1933-2006)

Academic journal article Folk Music Journal

John Campbell (1933-2006)

Article excerpt

John Campbell died on 2 October 2006. Storytellers, and those who love storytelling and traditional song, who knew him, would agree that he was the best, in every sense. Paddy O'Brien, a storyteller from Kerry said that when he first heard John Campbell, he knew that here was the genuine article. John always brought joy; for him every one he met and to whom he told tales was important, whether audiences at large festivals or individuals met at local sheep fairs or in passing. He happily told stories, but was as keen to hear others' tales.

John was born, reared, and died in Mullaghbawn, in South Armagh, on the hip of Slieve Gullion, a magic mountain much associated with Irish myth and legend. He was inspired as a schoolboy when his teacher read aloud a book by local folklorist Michael James Murphy. Until then, John had wanted to be a writer, but thought they all came from London or America and only wrote about foreign parts. He had never realized that the local could be told and written about. Years later, John became close friends with Murphy, who recruited him to collect songs and stories from his community for the Irish Folklore Commission.

John collected from a wide extended family, as well as friends and neighbours. He soon realized that the best way to gather material was to have some to share, so he expanded his own repertoire, and to join in music sessions he played the jaw harp, for which he also became well known. Working as a barman in local pubs, and later as a clerk and manager for a building firm, and also as a smallholding sheep farmer, John became widely known for his entertaining storytelling. Eventually he was asked by the British Council to join tours of Irish and Scottish poets and writers, and in the 1980s teamed up with noted traditional singer Len Graham. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.