Margaret Barry

Margaret Barry
Birth name Margaret Cleary Barry
Born 1917
Cork, Ireland
Origin County Cork, Ireland
Died 1989 (aged 7172)
Lawrencetown, County Down, Ireland
Genres Traditional Irish, Sean Nós
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Banjo
Associated acts Michael Gorman

Margaret Barry (1917–1989) was an Irish Traveller, traditional singer and banjo player.

Born Margaret Cleary in Cork into a family of Travellers and street singers, she taught herself how to play the zither banjo and the fiddle at a young age. At the age of sixteen, after a family disagreement, Margaret left home and started performing as a street musician.

In the early 1950s she moved to London. With her flamboyant delivery and idiosyncratic banjo-playing, Barry became well known in the pubs and clubs of Irish London, where she was frequently accompanied by the fiddler Michael Gorman. Barry's singing and banjo playing became a major influence on the younger generation of ballad singers in Ireland and the UK, including Luke Kelly.

One song for which Barry is particularly noted is "She Moved Through the Fair". Asked by an interviewer, Karl Dallas, whether she had learned it from her family or from other Travellers, she replied cheerfully, "Oh, no. I got it off a gramophone record by Count John McCormack".

The accompanying book to the Topic Records 70 year anniversary boxed set Three Score and Ten lists Her Mantle So Green as one of the classic albums[1]:16 and The Factory Girl from Street Songs and Fiddle Tunes of Ireland with Michael Gorman is track 9 on the third CD in the set.


See also



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