The late Charlie Cannon pictured with the Travelling Folk Jack Ramsey, Gerry Meehan and Colette McAree
One of Donegal’s best known musicians, Charlie Cannon, was laid to rest today (Wednesday) in Killymard, just outside Donegal town.
A member of a very talented musical family, Charlie lived in Donegal town for most of his 80 years, but never lost his love for his native place, Kilcar.
It was there that his love of music was nurtured - in the Kilcar Pipe Band - where he played bagpipes, as did most of his family, in succession to his father, Michael. Charlie always returned to play with the band for those special occasions such as St. Patrick’s Day, etc.
But it was not just the bagpipes as Charlie played almost every instrument - whistle, accordion, guitar, saxophone, clarinet. He was a member of a number of showbands in the South Donegal area and then in Donegal town he teamed up with The Travelling Folk.
One of the founders of this group, Jack Ramsey, recalls that Charlie joined them close on 40 years ago.
“He was a very talented musician who could play so many different instruments,” says Jack.
At that time the Travelling Folk was made up of Jack, Charlie, Donal Britton and Alan Ramsey. Jack and Charlie became the mainstays as others such as Donal Gallagher and Brian Curristan joined, and in later years Colette McAree and Folksy Gerry.
“He was very comfortable on stage,” says Jack. “He never fronted the band but to me he was always the front man!”
The Travelling Folk became an institution and at one time were playing five or six nights a week as well as going on regular tours of England and Scotland.
Charlie was more than a musician; he was also a great singer and a great storyteller. Jack Ramsey tells the story of how they were given a song at the time of the 1992 All-Ireland and Charlie re-wrote it to include all the Donegal players, but sadly because they were touring, they never got to record it.
“It is one of our great regrets,” says Jack. Charlie is an uncle of Rory Gallagher of “Jimmy’s Winning Matches”.
Away from the music, Charlie was a contractor and a carpenter by profession. “He had great hands and could fix anything,” says Jack.
Charlie is survived by his wife, Maureen; sons Brian, Barry, Michael and Peter; daughters Brenda, Paula and Lisa; by his brothers John, Mickey, Anthony, Eamon, Columba and Eighneachain; sisters Maeve and Mary B and a host of relatives and friends.