Cathal Gannon

(01/08/1910 - 23/05/1999)

Cathal Gannon, celebrated as an Irish harpsichord maker, fortepiano restorer, and amateur horologist, left his mark on Dublin’s cultural landscape with his craftsmanship, passion for music, and commitment to preserving historical instruments. Born on August 1, 1910, into a family of carpenters with ties to the renowned Guinness Brewery, Gannon’s early life was steeped in a blend of craftsmanship and musical inspiration.

Raised in Dublin’s Liberties,, later moving to Longford Terrace(now Crumlin Road), Gannon’s journey into the world of music began with humble roots. Despite receiving rudimentary education, his innate curiosity and love for the arts led him to immerse himself in evening classes and cultural societies. It was during this time, living in Longford Terrace,Crumlin that he fostered friendships with influential figures like Grace Plunkett and Carl Hardebeck, whose mentorship ignited his passion for traditional Irish music and instrument-making.

Gannon’s fascination with harpsichords was sparked by a chance encounter with an article about their revival. Undeterred by initial setbacks, he embarked on a remarkable journey of self-discovery, meticulously crafting his first harpsichord in 1952. His dedication and talent soon garnered recognition, with his instruments gracing prestigious venues and performances nationwide.

Throughout his illustrious career, Gannon’s workshop in Knockmaroon Farm, Castleknock, became a haven for aspiring musicians and enthusiasts alike. His generosity extended beyond craftsmanship, as he mentored young talents and shared his knowledge with the community, ensuring the legacy of fine keyboard instruments lived on.

Gannon’s contributions to Irish music and culture were further honoured with honorary degrees from Trinity College Dublin and NUI Maynooth, recognising his tireless efforts in promoting authentic performances of early music. Despite facing health challenges in his later years, Gannon’s legacy endures, immortalised in the Cathal Gannon Early Music Room at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

As Dublin bids farewell to one of its most beloved artisans, Cathal Gannon’s enduring spirit continues to resonate through the timeless melodies of his meticulously crafted instruments, a testament to his unwavering dedication to the art of music and instrument-making.

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Connection with area: Celebrated as an Irish harpsichord maker, who lived and grew up on Crumlin Road.