CCÉ Northeast Regional Hall of Fame Inductee Bridget Fitzgerald (née Coyne)
Hall of Fame’s First Year Inductee
Sean nós singer Bridget Fitzgerald (née Coyne) , a member of the Reynolds-Hanafin-Cooley branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, was inducted into The Hall of Fame by The Northeast Region of the North American Province on November 1, 2014.
Bridget Fitzgerald (née Coyne) is one of the great musical treasures in New England. A sean nós singer born and raised in Lochán Beag, Inverin, in Connemara’s Gaeltacht, she grew up awash in music. Often, she listened to the likes of Elvis Presley, Cliff Richards and Mel Tillis on Radio Luxembourg, but sometimes attention was given over to the family’s own music. This is when she would hear her mother Ann and her uncle Johnny sing the beautiful old sean nós music that virtually defined the west of Ireland in song.
On occasion, the great Joe Heaney stopped by. Although it might mean having to turn the radio off, there wasn’t anything unusual about her father coming home from the pub with Heaney (a family friend) for a bit of a sing. The depth of her family’s own songs and the grace of Heaney’s music made no difference to Bridget at the time, because she saw it all simply as a part of growing up. She didn’t realize until much later, even after immigrating to the United States in 1964, how important and special this upbringing was. Then (and even somewhat now), she scarcely considered herself a “singer” in the performative sense, and didn’t see her particular connectedness to the music as anything other than unworthy of note.
Performances and Recordings
Then things changed. In 1984, Mick Moloney introduced a traditional music group called Cherish the Ladies. He invited Bridget in, and it was on their debut album in 1985 that she first recorded. She remained part of Cherish for five years.
Afterward, she worked with other groups including the Women’s Singing Traditions of New England and Fourin a Feire. In the early 1990s Bridget forged a great friendship with guitarist Carol Barney. The two found a special bond through music and performed often. They had just started work on an album when Barney was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She passed away before work was complete, and the album lay fallow until 2013 when Bridget found a way to re-engage with the recordings and the memory of her friend. The result was a brilliant CD: Two Sides of a Coyne.
Master Sean Nós Singer
Today, Bridget is recognized as a master sean nós singer. Her work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and the Southern New England Arts Council. She has taught workshops on Irish Language and singing at music camps in North America and Ireland. She has performed for two of Ireland’s presidents, Michael D. Higgins and Mary MacAleese.
In 2014 she was named to the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann’s Northeast Regional Hall of Fame. Bridget teaches traditional singing for the CCÉ Boston Irish Music School.
Link to Bridget’s website and listen to her sing: http://www.bridgetcoynefitzgerald.com
Return to Hall of Fame