President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to well-known traditional musician and singer Séamus Begley, who has died aged 73.
President Higgins said Séamus Begley will be remembered "one of Ireland's finest accordion players as well as a beautiful singer".
He said his recordings and performances "captured not only the music of his upbringing but also a knowledge of music far beyond these shores".
"As with all those who knew Séamus, we will remember him for his talent, his warmth and his sense of fun, that lasting impression which he left on all those who he met. He will be deeply missed," President Higgins said in a statement.
The west Kerry man was widely regarded as one the country's finest accordion players, while his gentle style of singing endeared him to audiences the world over.
Part of a family steeped in a rich musical tradition, Begley acquired much of his repertoire by the hearthside at home in Baile na bPoc in the west Kerry Gaeltacht and was heavily influenced by the songs and music of his native Paróiste Múrach.
Releasing his first album, in the company of his sister Máire, in 1973, Begley enjoyed a fruitful career, performing extensively across the world and establishing himself as one of the leading lights on the traditional music scene.
Begley's collaboration with Australian guitarist Steve Cooney produced the ground-breaking album 'Meitheal’ (1992), which received international acclaim.
He would later partner with the likes of Jim Murray and Tim Edey, producing further award-winning albums.
Begley was a charismatic performer, renowned for his sharp wit and colourful turn of phrase.
He was equally as comfortable negotiating the intricate grace-notes of a sean-nós lament in Irish as he was delivering the melodic roll of an old ballad in English.
His style of accordion playing was regarded as unique - a rare mixture of wildness and subtlety.
While his musical talent carried him around the world, he continued to farm the family holding in Baile na bPoc and was a popular figure amongst the farming community of west Kerry, where he operated as a silage contractor for many years.
Séamus Begley is survived by his wife, Mary, his children Breandán, Eoin, Niall and Méabh, along with an extended musical family of sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, fellow musician and friend Donal Lunny described Begley as "a larger than life figure" and said that his death "leaves a huge void" in the world of traditional music.
"He was a natural entertainer. There was no real division between his daily life and being on stage. He always performed in a most natural way… I think everyone is suddenly aware of the huge place Séamus occupied in the soul of the country."
Sharon Shannon described the "amazing power" in Begley's music.
"He had the ability to lift the roof of any pub or house in which he was playing. Then, he had the most beautiful singing voice - effortless and calm.
"He was also brilliant craic, he had a very quick wit. You’d be belly-laughing in his company he was good for your health."
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'Voice of an angel'
Singer Mary Black said that Séamus Begley had "the voice of an angel".
She said that she wanted to cry the first time she heard him perform Bruach na Carraige Báine.
"It just moves you so much and he had that quality that just brought you right into the music...beautiful, a voice of an angel."
She said that he was rooted in the west Kerry community and she first met him 23 years ago when she had a house there.
She said that it is a huge loss to the people of west Kerry and the wider community of traditional musicians throughout the country.
Posting on social media last night Mike Scott of the Waterboys said that Séamus Begley was "the finest of all Irish musicians, and perhaps the most beautiful singer I’ve ever heard… he was a friend, a king and a god".
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin described the west Kerry man as "a music icon for over 50 years", adding that his music was "deeply rooted in his beloved home place of Corca Dhuibhne".