Anne Byrne RIP: a gem of Irish music, 'my immensely talented mother'
January 23, 2021
Just over three years ago, I published a whimsical edition of the Cover Story series about The Croppy Boy, a melancholy song of rebellion, capture and execution from the Irish rising of 1798. One version I briefly discussed was by the Dubliners, the other Anne Byrne.
Ronnie Drew, who took the lead vocals for the Dubliners' interpretation, died in 2008, aged 74. Anne, who grew up a few streets from Ronnie's home in Dun Laoghaire and knew him well, was 78 when she passed away between Christmas and New Year.
The Cover Story article was whimsical because it was inspired by the appearance of an Irish-owned cafe to take the place of a recently closed Nepalese restaurant around the corner from my home in west London.
The nameplate I watched being installed announced the cafe as The Croppy Boy, though this proved a short-lived choice and it is as The Horseshoe that it now trades in takeaway-only lockdown form.
My 2017 article drew a belated response from Anne's son Jason after her death. He was correcting my mistaken memory that his mother was a native of Belfast.
And of course, he broke the sad news. I posted a mention on the Mudcat folk music message board since I had seen no report in any media outlet of Anne's death. I invited Jason to contribute a few words about a woman we agree was "immensely talented" and this is the result:
The portrait of Anne, supplied the the family, was taken by the German photographer Evelyn Hofer in 1967
* From Lin at the Mudcat thread:
'I am so very sad to hear of Anne Byrne's passing. I have been a huge fan of her music for many years. I was lucky to have found most of her albums over the years. I live in California and found a few of her albums in used record shops here but found most in record shops in London when I was visiting there in the 1980s. I just had to try and find all her albums including the ones where she sang on some of the Abbey Tavern albums.I'm not sure if I have everything she ever recorded but probably have the majority of albums (all vinyl). My sincere condolences to her husband, sons and all her family members and friends. What an incredibly talented lady!'
* Beachcomber: 'How sad. I always thought that Anne Byrne had a beautiful voice , she rivalled Joan Baez for me.'
i am shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Anne, my friend.
Posted by: ann kennedy frances Kennedy | March 24, 2021 at 12:34 AM
Great shock to hear of Anne's death. She should be widely REMEMBERED - her singing surpasses many of the time. a talent few are gifted with. May she rest in peace - condolences to family.
Posted by: Margaret Kennedy | March 24, 2021 at 03:49 PM
Just heard of the death of Anne Byrne, i was a big fan of hers. She was beautifull and very down to earth, always had time for a chat after a show. My sincerely sympathy to Paddy and the family.
Posted by: Ann Kelly | March 26, 2021 at 07:55 PM
Didn't know she had passed away. She did surpass Joan Baez who was also 🏆wonderful and could stay ❤ listening 🎶 forever. 👍Great times furthermore now trying to live with Covid.
Posted by: Mary | December 11, 2021 at 12:55 AM
We remember Anne and Jesse very well from early Abbey Tavern days most weekends..packed house every session.:
Pre ODonohues for ballads and blarney..
Posted by: Colum alexander | December 31, 2021 at 08:49 AM
I have only discovered her and a numerous number of songs she sang. I loved her voice; it was incredible. I am so sorry to here of her passing.
Posted by: Richard Harrison | February 07, 2022 at 11:10 PM
Very sad to read of Anne's passing, I remember her very well I was in her class at Domican Dun Laoire (where I was a boarder) and can remember her singing at school and Sr. Angelo being so taken with her voice!! My thoughts go out to you and her family, May she rest in peace..she had the voice of an angel and I still listen to her often.
Posted by: Pat (Bambrick) | March 28, 2022 at 05:02 AM
Saddened to hear of the passing of Anne, I offer my sympathies to her family, I was a fan of her most beautiful voice, now in my seventies I remember her right back to the sixties with Jesse, may she rest in peace,
Posted by: Garry Buicke | July 18, 2022 at 11:21 PM
To-day I heard of the death of Ann, my condolences to her family. Ann and I were class mates in Dun Laoghaire and sang together in the school choir. We did meet on rare occasions in Dun Laoghaire. Her son Patrick was a month older than my daughter. My thoughts and prayers are with her Mam, sisters Angela and Maureen, her husband and sons.
Posted by: Jean Confrey | August 06, 2022 at 05:29 PM
In 1963, my family moved to Ireland for a year from the US; my father, Prof. Paul Pfretzschner, taught at Trinity College during that time. My parents fell in love with Ireland, and all things Irish, particularly the music. They frequented the Abby Tavern where they met Anne, and later Paddy. My parents were so enamored with Anne's beautiful voice that they encouraged her to come to America to perform. My father met Anne at Kennedy International Airport in New York where he was vetted by two nuns, and Anne was off to tour. She went on to meet well known American folk singer Judy Collins who was taken with Anne's voice and the song "The Patriot Game." Anne taught her the song which Ms. Collins later recorded, and credited Anne for teaching her the song. My parents spent another year in Ireland in 1973, and were able to see Anne and Paddy many times; I spent that summer with them and remember seeing them as well. I am fortunate to have inherited my parents love for all things Irish, along with their Irish music collection, and have Anne's albums and many fond memories. RIP dear Anne.
Posted by: Susan Pfretzschner | November 10, 2022 at 04:51 PM
What a beautiful, evocative and informative comment, Susan. I shall make it sure it is seen by the family member I was in contact with. Thank you
Posted by: Colin Randall | November 11, 2022 at 05:41 PM
Sad to hear of Anne's untimely passing as listen to her first album many years ago. Had the pleasure of seeing her perform three or four times, Slattery's and once in the Teachers Club were the popular folk scene venues then in the 70's. Beautiful silky voice in the Joan Baez mode with similar social conscience. See retired from the music scene far too early becsuse of family commitments. May she RIP and will always be remembered by those she touched!
Posted by: David Owens | March 03, 2023 at 06:58 PM