THE composer and musician Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin has died aged 67.
Notable for his gift in languages, music, teaching, and contemporary as much as traditional Irish culture – the musician had an extraordinary vision for the arts that embraced other worlds and all ages.
The Tipperary native died last night at Milford Hospice in Limerick, and tributes have poured in for the musician since his death was announced by his family.
The University of Limerick posted to Twitter saying “Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin left a rich legacy through his own music” and the Irish World Academy he founded “which attracted students from over 50 countries”.
The late Emeritus Professor of Music at UL was hugely instrumental in the relocation of the Irish Chamber Orchestra from Dublin to its current home at the University of Limerick.
The Irish Chamber Orchestra said, “It is with a heavy heart that we at the ICO have learned of the passing of Mícheál O Suilleabhain, musician, composer, leader and great friend….”
President Michael D Higgins said in a statement, “His music and outstanding work will forever be enjoyed by countless people, celebrating his humour, his fearless sense of exploration and his talent for harmony, joy and mobilising the peerless power of music.”
Mícheál (b December 1950, Clonmel, County Tipperary) was one of Ireland’s best-known musicians, composers and academics, born in Clonmel County Tipperary.
Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of Limerick and founder/Director at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance which he created in 1994, Micheál Ó Súilleabháin also recorded a series of pioneering solo albums which re-positioned his chosen instrument, the piano, at the heart of Irish traditional music – while also revealing the intersections where classical and traditional music could co-exist.
His richly evocative collaborations with Mel Mercier, who succeeded him as CHAIR at UL, were a celebration of Ó Suilleabháin’s flinty sense of humour and love of musical exploration.
He produced a series of CD recordings in America, the UK, and Ireland on the traditional music of the Shetland Islands, Donegal, Cape Breton Island and on Irish traditional musicians in the USA and in England.