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Widely acclaimed as the greatest Irish fiddle player of all time. Michael Coleman was born in Killavil, South Sligo and passed on, aged 54yrs., in New York City, U.S.A. Like so many, before him and since, Michael Coleman emigrated to the U.S. in 1914 aged 23yrs. Destiny was to put Michael and his Sligo Style of fiddle playing in the right place at the right time. The new gramaphone technology developed in the U.S. at the early part of this century ensured Michael's legacy to us of his gifted music. Even today, his particular magic comes across in those old recordings.

The influence Michael Coleman had on the traditional music scene was enormous. He changed the course of fiddle playing as the Sligo style was admired and emulated. Michael did not invent this style of playing nor was he the only musician playing this style. It had been played in the Killavil area long before Michael's time and passed down by the master fiddlers. Many traditional musicians from the South Sligo area including Gurteen, Tubbercurry , Castlebaldwin, Ballymote , etc. were taught and played in the same style but Killavil is seen as the source. This was the background and basis for Michael Coleman to develop his own particular skill and magic.

The monument (above) to the memory of Michael Coleman was erected in 1974 by the the Coleman Traditional Society in co-operation with the Coleman Memorial Committee. It is placed close to his birthplace in Killavil and directly opposite the
Coleman Heritage Centre on the Tubbercurry to Gurteen road.
The Centre consists of a replica of the original Coleman home, and also a traditional style forge. A music archive, managed by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, forms an important part of the project. The primary focus of the Centre is to promote the living tradition.

The inscription on the Monument reads as follows:

to the memory of

Michael Coleman

master of the fiddle
saviour of Irish traditional music
born near this spot in 1891
died in exile 1945

To the Traditional musicians of an older generation who in this area inspired his genius.

To those of a later generation who after his passing fostered and preserved that tradition for posterity.

Copyright ©Áine 2005.

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