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Johnny Patterson

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Biography

John (Johnny) Francis Patterson (1840 - 1889) was an Irish singer, song writer and circus entertainer.

He was born in Kilbarron, Feakle, County Clare. Both his parents had died by the time he was three years old and so he was raised by an uncle in Ennis. At the age of 14 he enlisted in the 63rd Regiment of Foot which was based in Limerick at the time. He learned to play various instruments especially piccolo and drums. When a circus came to Limerick he got a part-time job in its band and so bought himself out of the Army. He was soon given a long-term contract and billed as “The Irish Singing Clown.” He worked for other circuses in Ireland before crossing to England, In Liverpool he met and married a circus bareback rider, Selena Hickey. Around this time he composed the song The Garden Where the Praties Grow. His fame grew until he was offered a contract in America in 1876 separating from his wife and family.

In the United States he became one of most famous and highest paid entertainers at the time. He composed several more songs including The Hat my Father Wore, Bridget Donoghue, Shake Hands with your Uncle Dan, Goodbye Johnny Dear and The Stone outside Dan Murphy’s Door.
At the aged of 45, he was a wealthy man and so returned to Ireland buying a house in Belfast where he was reunited with his wife and family, but Selena died in 1886. He continued performing and created a circus of his own with an Australian called Joe Keeley. In April 1888 he married Bridget Murray at Castlepollard, County Westmeath.

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