Ben Lennon is known widely as a stylistic performer and teacher in the national and international world of Irish Traditional music.
He began playing the fiddle at the age of ten, growing up in an atmosphere of home, céilí-house music-making and served his time with his father as a tailor. He developed his skills in post-World War II London among superb artisans and there immersed himself in a cosmopolitan city lifestyle.
Back on Irish soil he returned to traditional music in its headiest revival years, first in Limerick and then Cork, while also engaged as an innovator and organiser in major clothing businesses.
He returned north to Leitrim after twenty five years and relocated himself in local music, going on to teach his instrument, and to record and broadcast.
The Life and Times of Ben Lennon
- Early 1800s: Ben’s paternal great-grandfather Jimmy marries Ann O’Reilly; both are from Fermanagh. Their sons Maurice and Patrick move to Kiltyclogher.
- 1850s: Ben’s paternal grandfather Patrick grew up in Kiltyclogher
- 1895: Patrick marries Catherine Meehan in a wedding ‘match’.
- 1927: Patrick Lennon’s son Jim marries Kilty woman Sally McGriskin - convent educated and a piano player.
- 1928: Ben is born at Kiltyclogher, eldest of four brothers.
- 1934: Johnny McGivern’s ‘Ballroom of Romance’ opened at Glenfarne.
- 1938: Ben’s first fiddle lessons.
- 1940: Fiddler Frank Morrison of Co. Sligo plays for céilí dancing in Kilty square at the laying of the foundation stone of the Sean Mac Diarmada monument; music and dance again at the unveiling in 1942.
- 1940s: Tunes played in local bar céilís by the Timoneys and others.
- 1943: Ben leaves school at fifteen to serve his time as a tailor with his father.
- 1944: Ben plays for his first house-dance at McGovern’s, near Rossinver; Ben invited to play in The Blue Haven Dance Band
- 1947: Ben fails in his attempt to join the Garda Síochána.
- 1948: First trip to Dublin with his life partner to be, Patsy Eames of Rossinver at a Temperance rally.
- 1949: Ben’s tailoring apprenticeship time now served, he goes to London to develop his tailoring skills.
- 1949-54: Training in London, no fiddling and little music; attendance at concerts of all kinds of music.
- 1953: Marriage to Patsy Eames in London.
- 1954: First child born, and return to Ireland; rescued from Canadian exile by job offer from Danus in Limerick city.
- 1956: Ben attends an All-Ireland fleadh at Ennis; hears Paddy O’Brien.
- 1960: Participation in sessions in Co. Clare.
- 1961: Ben elevated to chief designer with Danus.
- 1964: Purchase of a stereo reel-to-reel tape recorder and developing his music.
- 1966: Move to Dwyer’s of Cork city to develop his business skills.
- 1968: Part of Shaskeen band with Charlie Piggott and others; sessioning in Cork city.
- 1972: Move to management position with Magee in Donegal.
- 1973: Move to live in Rossinver.
- 1974: Border roads from Leitrim to Fermanagh closed.
- 1983: Ben plays with Charlie and with Mick O’Connor on Lucky in Love album.
- 1988: Retirement from the clothing trade, and full application to music and teaching fiddle.
- 1989: Dog Big, Dog Little album recorded with Claddagh.
- 1993: Lennon family album Dance of the Honeybees with Gael Linn.
- 1996: Border roads from Fermanagh re-opened.
- 1996: Ben honoured by Leitrim People’s Association, Mayo.
- 1997: Honoured by Leitrim Rehab Hall of Fame.
- 1999: The Natural Bridge album recorded.
- 2005: Within a Mile of Kilty recorded.
- 2005: Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy honours Ben in a concert presentation.
- 2007: Ben and Charlie honoured by Leitrim County Council with the Freedom of Leitrim - “The right to graze animals wherever we please”.
- 2007: Ben honoured by the Cavan Nyah Festival.
- 2007: Ben and Charlie honoured by being featured on TG4’s ’S é Mo Laoch television biography.
- 2008: Rossinver Braes album recorded with Tony O’Connell.
- 2009: Joe Mooney Summer School Appreciation honour.
- 2011: Ben awarded TG4’s Gradam Saoil for lifetime achievement in music.
- 2011: Nominated for Ceannródaí award by CCE.