29 August 1940
Inishbofin, County Galway, Connaught, Ireland
28 September 2019 (aged 79)
Dessie O'Halloran (Desmond O'Halloran, 29 August 1940 – 28 September 2019) was an Irish singer and fiddler.
A native of Inishbofin, O'Halloran emigrated to the United Kingdom in the 1950s, where he enjoyed regular success as a singer at the All-Britain championships. Returning to Inishbofin in the mid-1980s, O'Halloran joined the island's céilí band, with whom many visiting musicians would sit in, as well as playing at sessions on the island.
He gained chart success in 2001 with "Say You Love Me", which reached No. 4 on the Irish charts, and was later re-released as a remix. The song was taken from the Sharon Shannon album, The Diamond Mountain Sessions.
His 70th birthday party, held in Fagan's Bar, Hotel Meyrick, Eyre Square, Galway, on 29 August 2010, was attended by musicians such as Sharon Shannon, Joe Burke, Anne Conroy Burke, Frankie Gavin, Matt Keane, Mary Staunton, Tommy McCarthy, Mick Crehan, Gerry Hanley, Rosie Stewart and Dick Hogan. Also in attendance were jockeys Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty and David Casey, as well as politicians Frank Fahey and former Mayor of Galway Pádraig Conneely.
O'Halloran performed with either Sharon Shannon's Big Band or the Fuaim Chonamara show by the Cuningham dancing family during the years he was active.
O'Halloran died on 28 September 2019.
O'Halloran was from the island of Inishbofin where he learnt to play the fiddle and also built up a store of traditional Irish songs. Like thousand of his contemporaries, Dessie emigrated to London in the late 50's and worked as a bricklayer amongst other jobs. With his brother Vincent, he began playing on the Irish scene in places such as Camden town, Fulham and Wimbledon, and it was in this urban environment that he began mixing various singing styles, a good example of this is ‘Say You Love Me', an American country song which was a feature track on Sharon Shannon's album ‘The Diamond Mountain Sessions'. With the subsequent success of this the song and the album itself, Dessie has become the darling of the airwaves and has toured with Sharon Shannon and her band 'The Woodchoppers', delighting audiences in places as far a field as London, Paris, New York and Washington.
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