Actor Brendan Gleeson uncovers the extraordinary story of the life and music of the man they call ‘The Godfather’ in an upcoming TG4 documentary.
Leitrim fiddler player Bryan Rooney emigrated in the late 1960s, at the age of 16, to London where he found work in construction, but the promising young musician has since achieved global recognition within the traditional Irish music world.
With a depth of astonishing music that provides the underlying sound track of his life, the big man with the ready smile and the lonesome sound is recognised as one of the master fiddlers of his generation who brought the heart of the tradition with him to London and kept it safe.
The special one hour documentary, airing on Monday, December 29 at 8:30pm, explores Bryan’s journey from a family of thirteen siblings to a seemingly familiar emigrant life working in England’s capital.
This is both a physical journey and a musical journey and as the story of his life unfolds so too will the story of the unparalleled traditional Irish music scene which existed in London during the 1950s, 60s and 70s and is a much celebrated period in Irish musical history.
Leading us on this journey will be actor and fellow fiddle player, Brendan Gleeson. Bryan Rooney is one of his heroes and he has been yearning for years to find out more about the man, the music and that golden era in London.
Through this journey we will get an insight into the man, his music and of the wider Irish experience of life in London. We will learn of his humour, generosity and willingness to share his story and the wonders of his music and of the influence he has had on other musicians particularly the younger generation and finally we will understand why this man is known simply as ‘The Godfather’.
The show will also be available for UK viewers to watch online at www.tg4.tv for 35 days after broadcast.
For YouTube footage of the two in action (including 1980s footage of Rooney) have a look here: