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Fergus O'Byrne    

Born in Dublin, Ireland Fergus immigrated to Canada in 1967 where he became a founding member of the Irish folk band Ryan’s Fancy.  In 1971 the trio moved to St. John’s Newfoundland and for the next fourteen years toured extensively throughout North America and Ireland.  Ryan’s Fancy recorded thirteen albums and their popular television show was broadcast on the CBC national network for five years. He has since followed a busy solo and freelance career, touring throughout Canada the United States, Europe, and Hong Kong.   

Since 1987, when he graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a degree in Education, Fergus has developed and produced a program of songs, stories and slides exploring the connection between Ireland and Newfoundland. He continues to tour this program in schools throughout the Atlantic Provinces. He has also contributed to the Newfoundland School Curriculum for Music at the intermediate level and has been involved in several ArtsSmarts projects. . Fergus also gives lessons in Bodhran and Banjo 

From 1994 to1997, Fergus served on the Board of Directors of the St. John's Folk Arts Council, where he played an active role in producing special events featuring the song, story, music and dance traditions of Newfoundland. He also served on the programming committee of the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival in St. John's, the province’s longest running and largest folk festival. He is currently facilitating a program for young traditional folk musicians and singers under the auspices of the St. John’s Folk Arts Council. 

His album Wave Over Wave, with singer/songwriter Jim Payne, garnered them a nomination for East Coast Music Association 1997 Roots/Traditional Artists of the Year. Fergus was also a member of the legendary Newfoundland band Tickle Harbour, whose album Battery Included, besides being an ECMA nominee, won three awards at the 1999 Newfoundland Music Industry Association Awards. In 2001, along with Dermot O’Reilly, he produced a Ryan’s Fancy retrospective CD Songs From The Shows, featuring songs from the acclaimed 1970’s CBC National television series, Ryan’s Fancy. He also can be heard on recent recordings by Newfoundland artists Great Big Sea, and he has contributed to several anthologies of Newfoundland music Fegus recently wrote, in collaboration with Kalem Mahoney, the soundscape for Rising Tide Theatre’s production of Kevin Major’s acclaimed play No Man's Land.  He presently records and tours nationally and internationally with Jim Payne and the band A Crowd Of Bold Sharemen. He also still performs with Dermot O’Reilly around St. John’s on a regular basis.  

In February 2004, Fergus, as part of Ryan’s Fancy, was awarded the ECMA Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes an individual or group who has had a profound and lasting effect on the Atlantic Canadian music industry. In April 2005, along with Jim Payne, he was the recipient of the inaugural Arts In Education Award by the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. 

He plays banjo, guitar, concertina and bodhran. 

“…hard-driving balladeer with a voice the size and strength of an oak barrel.”

Evening Telegram 

…plays the banjo like he was born with it, and sings with a freshness not to be found in plush nightclubs downtown.

Daily News, New York

*Lower photo by Rick West



      
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