Donegal man Tom Byrne has been named Male Musician of the Year in liveIreland Music Awards 2016.
Critic Bill Margeson, had this to say about Tom's talent.
“From the first notes of Tom Byrne’s self-titled album you are stunned.
“You are in the presence of a master musician and you may well have never heard anything like this before.
“It is not enough to say that Tom Byrne plays the harmonica. He is the Paganini of the harmonica. Think we’re exaggerating? Get ahold of this cd, listen to it all in one sitting, and you will be speechless. As were we.”
Tom told the Democrat, “I was absolutely delighted to receive the award from Liveireland. I immediately thought of my late parents Bridie and Paddy Byrne from Magilligan and Malin respectively and what it would have meant to them in terms of the sacrifices they made for myself and my brothers and sisters.”
He recalled being given his first harmonica as a Christmas present when he was 11. “I will never forget that magical Christmas when I opened up the present from Santa and there was the magic of music in my grasp!”
Tom, who plays harmonica, accordion and piano, grew up in Cheshire where the Byrne home was “always filled with music”. His father Paddy played fiddle and accordion, and his father's friends Con McGinley from Glencolmcille and Jim Sweeney from Ballinamore were regular visitors.
In addition, much time was spent in “Gleann an Bhaile Dhuibh, the magical glen in Kilcar” where Tom's grandfather John was from and where Tom's brother Colm still lives. His love of trad runs deep. “Sean McGuire, Joe Burke, Finbarr Dwyer and Des Donnelly were major influences along with countless others,” he says.
Tom has lived in Donegal for the last 20 years, playing and teaching throughout the county, and performing as far afield as Canada and Uganda.