Slan agus Beannacht to Chieftains whistler

Sean Potts

'Goodbye and blessings' to Sean Potts, founding member of The Chieftains. This 'champion of Irish culture' was laid to rest in a Gaelic Mass, his coffin inscribed: 'For the glory of God and the honour of Ireland,' – the maxim by which he lived.

Seán Desmond Potts, Irish musician.

Born 1930; died 2014.

Sean Potts, who has died aged 83, was best known for playing the tin whistle with The Chieftains, the traditional Irish band he helped found. The band put traditional Irish music on the map.

Mr Potts was born in the Dublin suburb of Drimnagh in 1930, into a musical family. His uncle John Potts was an uilleann piper from Wexford; other uncles included the multi-instrumentalists Tommy and Eddie Potts, and his aunt Teresa played the accordion.

His most significant musical grounding, however, came when he was recruited into Sean O'Riada's group Ceoltoiri Chualann, which played Western classical music strongly influenced by Irish folk styles, and which played a key role in triggering the revival of Irish traditional music in the 1960s and 1970s.

With one of his great friends in the group, the uilleann piper Paddy Moloney, Potts often played at impromptu sessions and gigs, looking to hone his skills while earning some cash. In November 1962, having left Ceoltoiri Chualann, the pair teamed up with a group of other musicians to form The Chieftains, which during the next 30 years became Ireland's best-known traditional group .

Moloney has something of a genius for marketing. In the 1990s this saw The Chieftains embark on an ambitious and eclectic range of collaborations with the likes of Luciano Pavarotti, Ry Cooder and The Rolling Stones, among many others, helping to bring the total number of Grammys the band received to six.

In the early days, however, the band's success was achieved through relentless touring. 

After a particularly hair-raising episode flying through a storm while on tour in America in 1979, Potts left the Chieftains for good, opting for a quiet life with his wife Bernadette, an Irish traditional singer whom he had married in 1960.

Sean Potts is survived by his wife and four children.

Read full obituary: Sean Potts - obituary (The Telegraph)

More coverage: 

Traditional musician Sean Potts laid to rest after Dublin funeral (The Irish Times)

Obituary in The New York Times


Sean Potts 2010 (YouTube)

The Corrs and the Chieftains (YouTube)

Mass on Demand


From Parish of Our Lady of The Way, North Sydney & Lavender Bay. The first Mass of the day on YouTube

Mass Online


Live streamed from Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, Waitara


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