Tony McMahon when he won the Gradam Saoil in 2004. Photo: TG4
Renowned button accordion player and radio and television broadcaster Tony McMahon was a leading force amongst traditional musicians and most notably within the heartland of traditional music, his native County Clare.
Tony McMahon gained his early inspiration from legendary accordionist Joe Cooley while other influences from the locality were piper Willie Clancy and fiddler Bobby Casey.
After moving to the United States in the mid-1960s McMahon shared an apartment in New York with piper and singer Seamus Ennis, whom he credits as an important influence on his playing.
In 1974 he was a founder member of the band Seachtar, which later became The Bothy Band.
Tony enjoyed a long and successful career with RTÉ where he produced such classic traditional music programmes as The Pure Drop and Come West Along the Road.
While he had strong views on modern trends influencing the performance of traditional music, Tony McMahon was recognised and respected as one of the ‘old-guard’ and key exponents of the tradition.
He had a very broad interest in the arts and had ambitions to write his memoirs. He donated his own personal archival collection to the Irish Traditional Music Archive who had also been helping him document his memories in traditional music.
In 2016 Tony released his final CD, Farewell to Music, a series of carefully chosen slow-airs, in partnership with fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallagh which was funded by the Arts Council.
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