Bringing it all back home to Glin 

Quintessential Dubliner and fiddler John Sheahan has deep Limerick roots

Norma Prendiville


Norma Prendiville

Bringing it all back home to Glin 

John Sheahan, the last surviving member of The Dubliners will appear in concert in Glin on December 16

WHEN fiddle-supremo John Sheahan picks up his bow in the parish church in Glin next month, it will be a kind of home-coming for this last surviving member of The Dubliners.

For this is the church where John’s father Paddy, from Ballyguiltenane would have come to worship. And it is where the heroism of his grandfather Patrick is also commemorated.

“John still has many cousins in the Glin area and a lot of them are musical too,” explained John Anthony Culhane, chairman of the Glin Development Association which has invited John Sheahan as its guest star at their annual Gala Christmas Concert on December 16. “We are looking forward to welcoming him back to his home-place.”

John’s father, Mr Culhane explained, was Paddy Sheahan from Ballyguiltenane, Glin who enrolled in An Garda Siochana was based in Dubliln. His mother, he added, was Drew, from Ardagh.

Moreover, his grandfather was Patrick Sheahan, also from Glin who was a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and who died, trying to rescue another man in the city in 1905.

A man of formidable size, 6’ 4” in height and 18 stone, he went on duty on May 6, 1905 to cover for a friend who had wanted to go to the theatre when a Dublin corporation workman got into difficulties while working underground in Burgh Quay. Constable Sheahan went down the sewers but died of suffocation trying to rescue the man who was overcome by deadly gas.

Thousands thronged the quays as Constable Sheahan’s coffin was brought to what was then Kingsbridge station, and from there, by train, to Foynes and on to Glin for burial.

Constable Sheahan’s grandson began his working life with the ESB but gave it up to join the Dubliners in 1964 and played with the group until 2012 when the Dubliners name was retired following the death of founding member Barney McKenna.As Barney McKenna once said, John is the 'memory chip', the part of the band who never forgets, 'the mortar between the bricks' that kept the band together.

John Sheahan has toured the world and played with many great artists including the Chieftains, Pogues, U2 and the Clancy Brothers. A renowned fiddle and mandolin player, John has composed many musical pieces including his chart topping hit, The Marino Waltz. And more recently, John has become a published poet with his collection A Fiddler’s Dream.

Appearing with John in Glin will be Bagatelle, the band whose hits are the sound-track to many people’s younger lives. Their songs, including Summer in Dublin, Second Violin, Leeson Street Lady and the very popular emigration song, the Flight of the Earls, were all charts topping hits in the 80s and 90s.

Formed in Bray in 1978, they have shared stages with U2, Van Morrison, Bob Marley and Don McLean and this will be the last chance to hear Bagatelle live in concert.

“This, their final tour should prove to be a very memorable and nostalgic occasion,” Mr Culhane said.

Tickets for the concert on December 16 are available for €25 in local shops , from members of Glin Development or by contacting Siobhan at 087 9944245.

Meanwhile, the old-time December Fair in Glin will take on Saturday, December 3 when there will also be a Christmas market in the local community hall, Ceol Corbraí.