|Ben Lennon was brought
up in Kiltyclogher (Ireland) - a village in North Leitrim near the border with Co.
Fermanagh. The eldest of 4 sons, in a very musical family, he started to play the fiddle
at 10 years of age. His father, uncle and granduncle, all played fiddles and his
mother played piano, although also adept at coaxing a tune out of fiddle, accordion, or
Ben got his first lessons from a
dancing master named Sean O'Donohue, who came from Ballyshannon to teach music and
dancing, just prior to the outbreak of World War No 2. A local man, Francis John McGovern,
who played many instruments, had an early influence as did, of course, his mother and
father. The house was always open to callers and many musicians were regular visitors.
During the war years emigration ceased and a lot of
young people were around and quite a few were playing instruments, including a fine fiddle
player from Co. Fermanagh named John Joe Gordon, who became an inspiration to all.
The old 78's began to come from America and those lucky
enough to own a gramaphone were blessed. The influence of this music began to
supercede the local tradition, but the older musicians had difficulty in trying to copy
such masters as Coleman, Morrison, etc. People like John Gordon, however, were undaunted
and quite capable of executing this style. Ben Lennon thought, if it could be done,
he would have a go. It was however many years later that he found the time for practice
and so ended up with a mixture of North Leitrim/ Fermanagh/Sligo styles.
Ben left Kiltyclogher in 1949, as did John Gordon a
little earlier, both going to England. Ben's youngest brother Charlie had begun playing
the fiddle and was left behind to keep the musical home fire alight. Ben did not then play
for another 10 years, until he met up with Seamus Connolly in Killaloe in Co. Clare in the
The 60's saw a great revival in the folk scene and a
myriad of young talent appeared and this carried on into the 70's with groups and bands
popping up all the time. Ben's family took up the music including Maurice on fiddle and
Brian on flute.
It was in 1988 when Ben retired that he first
recorded an album on the Claddagh label entitled "Dog Big Dog Little" with
Fermanagh musicians Seamus Quinn, Ciaran Curran and Gabriel McCardle.
He was involved in a family album on the Gael Linn label
in 1993 entitled "Dance of the Honey Bees" and recently on "The Natural
Bridge". He now lives with his wife Patsy in Rossinver just 4 miles west of his
native Kiltyclogher. He is primarily involved in teaching, especially at the Willie
Clancy School in Miltown Malbay and the Joe Mooney Summer School in Drumshanbo, Co.
Leitrim. He also runs workshops at various festivals, lectures and gives recitals.