Honored May 9, 2015
Brendan Fahey was raised in a family where traditional music was revered. His mother, Bernadette Lynch (RIP), was from Miltown Malbay (Co. Clare). She was a niece of Junior Crehan and spent much of her younger years on his farm in Mullagh. Tom Fahey (RIP), Brendan’s father, had Galway and Mayo roots and a genuine love of the music. It seems as though Brendan was destined to inherit the musical gene – “it’s just in him,” as Martin Mulhaire would say.
At a very young age, Brendan’s Dad began to take him to the Post Avenue (Westbury, NY) sessions, where Brendan cultivated his appreciation and understanding of the music. And the tradition. While in high school, he played drums in a local marching band and in a drum and bugle corps while in the Navy. While Brendan also plays the whistle and flute, it is the céilí drums that are his true musical love, and playing for dancers is his passion.
Brendan’s traditional musical style was greatly influenced by the drummers of the Laichtín Naofa Céilí Band, Paddy and Martin Malone, as well as drummers from other County Clare céilí bands. The 1950s recordings of the Laichtín Naofa, Tulla and Kilfenora céilí bands were a tremendous influence on Brendan’s musical development. He has, quite literally, “studied” the great céilí bands, their drummers and styles… and he continues to do so.
For countless years, Brendan played for sessions and céilithe at the Post Avenue hall, as well as at the Irish American Society and CCÉ gatherings in Mineola. Through the music, he met and had the privilege of playing with (and behind!) some of the greatest musicians of our time, masters of the tradition: Martin Mulhaire, Joe Madden, Matty Connolly, Jack Coen, Lou Quinn, John Fitzpatrick, Mike Rafferty, James Keane, and many more too numerous to mention. He considers himself fortunate that New York was and remains a mecca for the best of the best! Brendan has also played with the Kilfenora and Four Courts Céilí Bands when they’ve visited the US.
In 2000, Brendan founded the popular Ceol na gCroí Céilí Band. He also performs regularly with the Green Gates Céilí Band, as well as at the Doonbeg Society of NY. Ceol na gCroí has been the “house band” for the monthly Craobh Úll Mór CCÉ céilí since its inception in December 2005. He is well-known and particularly appreciated by dancers for the energy and lift he brings to the music.
Highly regarded as a music instructor, teaching remains Brendan’s primary passion. He provides instruction in both céilí drums and bodhran in the NYC area, and his students have placed at both the Regional Fleadh and Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Brendan is widely respected by musicians and music instructors alike for his knowledge of traditional music and bands. He is often called upon to help coach Groupa Cheoil and céilí bands in preparation for fleadhanna.
Brendan is dedicated to preserving the respect for the past, the music and musicians who have gone before him. Of greatest importance to Brendan is his commitment to passing on his love of and passion for “the spirit of our music” by teaching and nurturing the next generation.