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Do You Remember?

"Andy McGann, the Bronx Fiddler"

(Reprinted from the Bronx Times Reporter 3-15-2007)

 

Andy McGann was born on October 5, 1928 in the Bronx. His father, Andrew Sr., came from White Gates, Ballymote and his mother, Margaret Dwyer, hailed from Keash, also in County Sligo. The family settled at 140th Street and Cypress Avenue and attended St. Luke’s Roman Catholic Church on 138th Street. Andy and his brother took step-dancing lessons from Sean Murphy and at about age seven, Andy began taking lessons on the fiddle from Catherine Brennan Grant. He continued those lessons throughout grammar school.
Upon graduation from grade school, Andy attended Cardinal Hayes High School on the Grand Concourse at 151st Street and immediately joined their orchestra. He played the violin with them for his full four years of study. While at Hayes, he also played on the class basketball team and his hobby was collecting war pictures. He also belonged to the Business Club in his senior year and that helped pave the way for a career in bookkeeping and accounting. He graduated from Cardinal Hayes in 1945.
 

Andy McGann

Michael Coleman was friendly with Andy’s father and would occasionally visit the McGann family providing an opportunity for Andy to play with the most renowned Sligo fiddler of the day. This greatly influenced his playing style so much so that Andy’s first commercial album, recorded in 1965, was titled “A Tribute to Michael Coleman.” James “Lad” O’Beirne and Paddy Killoran were also among the leading fiddlers of the era and Andy had something to learn from them also. Eventually, Andy McGann would become the fiddler whom others strove to emulate. One all-time great, Brian Conway, gives Andy credit for influencing his playing and paving the way for up and coming fiddlers.

Andy met Paddy Reynolds from County Longford in 1948 and they played together for many years thereafter and recorded an album together in 1976. Joe Burke from Galway was another good friend with whom Andy recorded his first album. Although he played widely and was regarded as one of the finest fiddle players in the country, McGann recorded only a few albums. Those albums, however, are treasures and every musician who played with Andy can attest to his influence on Irish music today.

Andy McGann passed away on July 13, 2004 and was interred at St. Raymond Cemetery. He left his wife, Patricia, along with four children and eleven grandchildren. And the world is a better place thanks to one of the greatest fiddle players to come out of the Bronx.

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