Academic journal article Folk Music Journal

Charlie McGonigle (1936-2012)

Academic journal article Folk Music Journal

Charlie McGonigle (1936-2012)

Article excerpt

Charlie McGonigle, of Cloontagh, Clonmany, Co. Donegal, revered member of the Inishowen Traditional Singers' Circle, a central figure in the annual Ballyliffin International Seminar, and patriarch of a singing family, died on 13 August 2012 and is sorely missed.

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Charlie was born on 22 May 1936 in Cloontagh Glen into a close-knit grouping of family, friends, and. relations, but, like almost all of his generation, went to Britain a.s a young man, working in South Wales, Birmingham, and Scotland (at the infamous Shira Dam, where he learned songs from other local men). After some years he returned to marry Roseanne (nee Gillespie, member of another family of singers from the adjoining parish of Desertegney) and worked in construction while using the family land, as his father had, to raise sheep, of which he was a noted and respected judge. He and Roseanne had seven children, most of whom are singers.

He was the third of seven children or James 'Eoghain' McGonigle, a passionate singer, and his wife Susan (nee Harkin--the Harkins were great singers too). His life was filled with song. Uncles, aunts, grandparents, neighbours, and all but one of his siblings sang. Visits to grandparents, family gatherings, significant events such as Hallowe've, Christmas Eve, Christmas, 'wee' Christmas, St Patrick's Day, Ra' Monday (the first Monday of October, the day of the ram sales in Carndonagh, after which the rams bought by various neighbours were brought together for a final judgement) were all marked by gatherings, 'Big Nights', that always involved singing. Emigrant friends, neighbours, and relatives home on holiday were greeted with song, and farewells were sung too. …

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