Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In Memory of Mike Rafferty |

When Mike Rafferty played flute, it was with the unmistakable lilt and lift of his native East Galway. Named a National Heritage Fellow in 2010 by the National Endowment for the Arts, he was a bona fide national treasure. Through his teaching, recording and performing, he passed along the tradition to new generations.

Mike Rafferty, who was certainly no stranger to Philadelphia-area Irish musicians and fans of Irish music, died last week at the age of 84. Local flute players likely will not soon forget what a rare honor it was to sit by his side and soak of knowledge from a master, as they did at the Tom Standeven-Liz Crehan Anderson Tional at the Philadelphia Irish Center in 2006.

Rafferty’s passing struck a sad note with many, many musicians who knew him well, including singer-songwriter Gabriel Donohue (himself no stranger to Philadelphia).

Here is Donohue’s remembrance:

A lovely man was Mike Rafferty.

I met Mike Rafferty on what I believe was my first weekend in New York. ( I met Joe Madden one block over on the same night.) I had gotten a room above Christy O’Connor’s apartment off of Mosholu Parkway and every night would have to pass Kingsbridge Road to get home. Unless of course I wanted to take the short cut that bypassed Durty Nellie’s, The Archway and the Old Brogue, which was earlier called the Bunratty. Andy McGann and Johnny Cronin would hold court there and it was a magnet for people who loved the pure drop, surrounded by tenements, bodegas and across from the armory. The Irish still held out in these neighborhoods where cheap rent was the main attraction and, secondly, the pub scene which anesthetized them from the despair brought about by having traded the bucolia of Galway and Mayo for the tar and cement of New York.

In Memory of Mike Rafferty |

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