Jimmy Mc Bride (1962-1984)
Greysteel and the Illies, Buncrana
Jimmy was born in Greysteel, Co. Derry, in 1962. His parents Manus and Margaret had six children – John, Brendan, Martin, Margaret, Anne, and Jimmy, who was the youngest. It was a musical family. Manus was a competent fiddle player, as were Jimmy’s older brothers. Tragically, Jimmy’s brother Brendan was killed in a car accident in 1968 at the age of 22.
From the age of 10, Jimmy began playing fiddle and showed enough promise to convince his brother John that he might have a future in music. When Jimmy was 11 John brought him to meet Dinny Mc Laughlin, the renowned fiddler and music teacher from Shandrum, Buncrana. Under Dinny’s guidance Jimmy made remarkable progress on the fiddle.
Jimmy admired the playing of the remarkable fiddler Tommy Peoples, originally from St Johnston in County Donegal, and would have learnt many of his tunes. The Antrim fiddler Jim McKillop had a huge influence on Jimmy’s music. After meeting and hearing McKillop, and being exposed to his style and approach to tunes, Jimmy’s playing took on a completely new dimension.
Jimmy came to live in the Illies, outside Buncrana, after his brother John married and moved there. Jimmy had a great love for playing in sessions, whether it was a quiet tune in a house with friends and family or a late night in the pub. Teresa McClure (née Doherty) would have played a lot with Jimmy at sessions and would have learnt many of his tunes.
Jimmy won the All-Ireland Oireachtas title on two occasions, once at junior level and once at senior level. He won three All-Ireland fiddle titles, with under-age titles in 1978 and 1980, and the coveted senior fiddle title in 1983. He went on to play with the group Aileach and toured the UK and Europe.A shy and modest young man, Jimmy, like his brother Brendan, was killed at the age of 22 in a car accident in 1984. It happened near Raphoe, County Donegal. The tragedy of his loss still resonates among many who had the privilege to hear him.
(Information compiled by Jimmy’s niece Teresa McBride, also a fiddle player, for the Donegal County Fleadh programme, Culdaff, 2012.)
Dinny Mc Laughlin wrote the poem ’The Golden Chair of Music’ for Jimmy McBride, his former student. It was published in ‘From Barefoot Days’ (2005), a collection of stories and music from Dinny, compiled by Liz Doherty.
The Golden Chair of Music
When the smoke goes up in the morning and the night reveals the day,
What joy or sadness awaits us?
In October ’84, when a knock came to my door,
The rays of dawn just peeping, fell to darkness.
I saw him through my tears, as my mind flashed back through years
Of all those happy memories shared between us,
As I curved his fingers round and placed them nicely down
To coax out this beauty that surrounds us.
I saw him as a youth, through those years of love and truth,
Like a flower sprouting out unfolding genius,
And then to fade away, as he braced his summer’s day
With nothing left but memories to cheer us.
He could rustle up a storm of music that was warm
From a heart that was wisely unselfish,
Or take slow airs at his ease, like a gentle summer’s breeze
That tickles leaves to wake them from their slumber.
It was a tree that gave life to the beauty of his strife,
And how often he caressed and loved his fiddle,
But it marks the spot today, for no more I’ll hear him play,
Which points to us that life is but a riddle.
I feel his presence here tonight, I feel he’s whispering, “Aroon”,
Give my heavenly thanks to all, with love and care,
And together we will play, and I’ll help you all the way
From the comfort of this lovely golden chair.
By Dinny Mc Laughlin
‘From Barefoot Days’
Craobh Sheamuis Mhic Giolla Bhríde
The Jimmy McBride branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann
Craobh Sheamuis Mhic Giolla Bhríde was formed in the late 1980s by Teresa Mc Clure (née Doherty), a good friend of Jimmy Mc Bride, to honour his life in music.
In the 1990s Craobh Sheamuis Mhic Giolla Bhríde hosted the County Fleadh in Buncrana. It went on to host the County Fleadh in Culdaff in 2012 and 2013, and in Moville in 2018 and 2019.
Over the years the branch has enjoyed great success in fleadh competitions at county, provincial and All-Ireland levels, taking various All-Ireland Fleadh titles back to Inishowen, from solo to Grupaí Cheoil.