President Michael D Higgins has led the tributes to "one of Ireland's great folk singers", Mary McPartlan, whose death has been announced.
Born in Drumkeeran, Co Leitrim, McPartlan formed folk duo Calypso in the 1970s, and was also the founder of Galway singers club An Riabhóg and theater company Skehana, while serving for many years as an arts PR and consultant, as well as the administrator of Galway Youth Theatre. In 2002, she directed the opening of Glór, the national Irish music center in Ennis, Co Clare.
Our beautiful friend Mary McPartlan has died. Here is a glimpse of her life, a fragment of her singing. More later. All our love goes out to Paddy, Mairead, Meabh and the family. pic.twitter.com/I1d0tpABOd— Susan McKay (@SusanMcKay15) April 6, 2020
Serving for many years as producer and director of a number of musical projects, her longterm involvement with TG4 saw her develop the Gradam Ceoil National Traditional Music Awards, now a fixture of the Irish music calendar, and co-produce two series of the award-winning TG4 music show FLOSC.
In 2004, aged 50, she released her belated debut album, The Holland Handkerchief, which was voted MOJO Magazine's folk album of the year. Bolstered by its success, she continued to record and tour to considerable acclaim - her last release was From Mountain To Mountain, released in 2016.
Creative director of the Arts in Action programme at NUI Galway (NUIG), in 2013 McPartlan received a Fullbright Scholarship to the US - last year, she received an Ireland United States Association (IUSA) Distinguished Alumni Award for her "outstanding contribution to culture, education and music".
"It is with deep sadness that Sabina and I have heard of the death of a dear friend, Mary McPartlan, musical director, broadcaster, and one of Ireland's great folk singers," said President Higgins in an official statement.
"For myself, I will always hold wonderful memories of being on tour with her and of her singing her tribute to Victor Jara at those five gigs we did together in 2011 in Leitrim, Donegal, Wicklow and Kerry; the wonderful company she was; and later I often admired how brave she was, indomitable, transcending loss and adversity with a nobility of heart and a powerful reach of humanity that was of course always there in her singing and in her life."
"Sabina and I were among the many who were privileged to call her our friend, and we will all miss her so much."
Mary McPartlan is survived by her husband, Paddy, and daughters Mairéad and Meabh.