SEÁN RYAN (1919-1985).
Seán Ryan was born in Nenagh but moved at a young age with his family to Newtown. He started learning the fiddle at age 11, influenced by his father, Thomas, a good dance fiddler with a local reputation who gave Seán his first lessons. Apart from his father, Ryan was influenced by Dinny O'Brien, father of the accordionist Paddy O'Brien. Ryan also was influenced by his playing with local musicians, including members of the Aughrim Slopes Ceili Band, and with his time with the original Bridge Ceili Band. Later Ryan moved to Portarlington, where he continued to play with chili bands including Danny Coughlan's Ballyoran Ceili Band and Marie Tyrrell's Band from Edenderry. In 1961 he formed his own Sean Ryan Ceili Band, winning third place honors in the All Ireland Band Competition in 1963. In 1968 the Seán Ryan Trio (Ryan, Paddy O'Brien of Daingea and his second wife Kathleen) toured America, with Seán and Kathleen returning the next year with a tour of Irish Champions. Later he formed a quartet with Kathleen on piano, Mickey Campbell on drums and Pat Lyons on accordion.
Ryan won a number of competitions in the late 1940's and 1950's, including back-to-back Senior All-Ireland competitions in 1956 and 1956, a duet competition with Ellen Flanaganm and the trio competition with Ellen and John Brady. A prolific composer (he is said to have composed some 250 tunes), his compositions were placed 1st in the Newly Composed Tune competition at the All Ireland on several occasions. He also recorded several albums (mostly with other musicians) and was broadcast on RTE. Two of his most famous recordings were for Avoca Records, with Galway flute player P.J. Moloney, and with Peter Carbury.