Tour 2 - Memorial to Sonny McDonagh, 1926–91
A great flute player of this area, he grew up with the Sligo style: among his influences were Jimmy McGettrick, Matt Molloy (uncle of Matt Molloy, of The Chieftains fame) and Willie Coleman. He played locally with Peter Horan and Fred Finn for country house dances and local sessions.
He was a mechanic by trade, and made his first flute out of a bicycle pump. He went to work in England in the early 1950s and played with the Tom O'Shea Ceili Band. He returned to Ireland in the early 1960s and played with the Sonny Flynn Ceili Band. He was also recorded on various radio programmes, such as Ceili House, Bring Down the Lamp and Ag Deanamh Ceoil (Making Music). He also had his own group, The Liffey Banks, with Andrew Davey, Josie Sheridan and John Looby. In 1976 he took part in a bicentenary celebration in America, the Festival of American Folk Life: 'Old Ways in the New World', together with 25 other invited musicians and dancers from Ireland.
He died suddenly at the age of 65, and is remembered by many younger musicians today for his encouragement and kindness as well as his beautiful flute style. All his sons and daughters play traditional music.

The town of Tubbercurry (or Tobercurry), at the foot of the Ox Mountains, is 16.4 km (10 miles) west of Gurteen, and is important for two major events in the year: its national Drama Festival in March (lasting up to ten days); and the South Sligo Summer School in July, for traditional Irish music and set dancing (see page 22). Accommodation should not be a problem as the town has an abundance of approved B&Bs. A drive to Loughs Talt and Easky in the beautiful Ox mountains is recommended. On the way to Lough Easky, stop off at Mass Hill, the location of a penal mass rock, where worshippers went to hear mass during the Penal Times.
A guide pack of this area is available entitled Sligo Spur Walks.

From Ceol‡ras Coleman, go right along the R294 for 4.2 km (2.5 miles), to the Killavil turnoff and continue on up this road to Bunnanaddan. The memorial is on the other side of the church which is on your left.


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