Rita Keane (1923-2009) R.I.P.

I wish that my great enthusiasm for the art of Irish traditional singing were matched my by an ability to talk knowledgably about the genre and its practitioners. If it were, then I’d still not be waiting to see in print a considered obituary for the great Irish singer Rita Keane who died in the early hours of Monday morning. I’d be writing it myself.

 In the meantime, and until something better comes along here is how The Irish Times has marked the passing of this remarkable singer.

 RITA KEANE, an internationally acclaimed traditional singer and member of one of Galway’s best-known musical families, has died. She was 86.

Ms Keane, an aunt of singers Seán and Dolores Keane, was regarded as one of the most influential traditional singers of the past half century or more.

Three years ago Rita, along with her older sister Sarah, were awarded the TG4 Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their outstanding contribution to traditional music and song.

Sarah Keane continues to live in Galway.

Their careers began more than 60 years ago in a céilí band which involved the wider Keane family.

The pair came to national and, later, international prominence through their highly acclaimed album, Once I Loved, a collection of songs in Irish and English recorded in 1968.

It took almost 20 years before their second collection of songs was released in the mid-1980s, At the Setting of the Sun.

Several well-known musicians and singers have paid tribute to the Keane sisters for having a major influence on them, including Paddy Maloney of the Chieftains.


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