His father Paddy the Tae was born in Ardara in 1900, and started playing the fiddle at a young age. He lost his sight while still a young man, and to ease the economic burden, his wife served teas in their house on fair days.
Paddy’s reputation as a fiddler ensured that every fiddler and music enthusiast took their meals there, and Paddy’s nickname was established.
His son, John, inherited not only the nickname, but more importantly, the musical ability, style and repertoire of his father, playing his first public concert in 1928, aged just six before going on to play all around Ireland over more than half a century.
In 1956 John won the Oireachtas fiddle competition and in 1959 the All-Ireland fiddle competition at the Fleadh in Thurles. His technical ability was highly accomplished and his musical sense uncanny.
The “Cup of Tae” festival of traditional music in Ardara was initiated in 2002, when it was decided by local people that people should be honoured during their lifetime, and not, as is so often the case, posthumously.
Prominent people in the music scene suggested that the May bank holiday, which was not utilised in the music calendar, would be an appropriate date, and suggested that it be held in honour of John “the Tae” Gallagher, the only man alive to win the Oireachtas fiddling championship.
Since then, the festival has become an annual event, attracting the cream of traditional musicians to this beautiful area, and ensuring the perpetuation of the famous style of Donegal fiddle playing.
Today at 10.30am, John’s remains will leave St Shanahan House at 10.30am for funeral Mass at Church of the Holy Family, Ardara. Burial will take place afterwards in the adjoining cemetary.Tags: