Joe Shannon a legendary Irish musician, National Heritage fellow and mentor to
countless musicians in Chicago’s fertile Irish music scene died December 26 at
the age of 88.
Shannon came to the U.S. from his native county Mayo at the age of 13,
eventually settling in Chicago, where he worked for many years as a firefighter.
As a teenager he took up the Uilleann pipes, learning the rudiments of the
instrument from a cousin. He learned much of his repertoire form recordings of
classic 19th and early 20th-century musicians Patsy Tuohy, and Michael Carney. Alongside legendary musicians like Johnny McGreevy, Jimmy and Eleanor Neary,
Seamus and Joe Cooley and Terry “Cuz” Teehan, Joe Shannon played a part in
keeping Irish instrumental music alive and thriving in Chicago when it was in
decline elsewhere. He served as a mentor or inspiration to younger generations
of Irish musicians including Liz Carroll, John Williams, Jimmy Keane and Michael
Flatley among many others. He recorded one album with long-time musical partner
Johnny McGreevey. He performed in the UK, Ireland, and at Irish events
throughout the U.S. In 1983 he received a National Heritage Fellowship Award
from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 1989 he received Illinois’
[Obituary courtesy of the Folk Alliance].