Traditional musicians are in mourning this week after the sudden death of Kevin Dorris.
Kevin (53), who had been suffering health issues for many years, was found dead of natural causes in his Tullagh Park home in Andersonstown on Monday afternoon.
The hugely popular Kevin – known to his friends as ‘Dod’ – played with Ireland’s top musicians, travelling Europe and beyond.
Kevin played for many years with famous West Belfast group Tamalin along with four members of the McSherry family. Band member Tíona McSherry said Kevin was “like our brother”.
“He was the fifth McSherry, part of the family,” she said.
“I’m devastated, in shock. We went around the world together to Europe, New Zealand, Australia. We did everything together and Dod was great craic.
“We all had a ball, bouncing off each other. We were really tight musicians and were like a single unit.
“We knew what we were all thinking – there was an unspoken thing between the five of us.”
Kevin played with other top musicians, including greats Dónal Lunny and Andy Irvine.
“He was part of the higher echelons of Irish music and was so respected,” said Tíona. “He was a great musician, playing the bouzouki but also the bodhrán and mandolin.
“He was a one-off, simply brilliant,” she said. “And he was naturally hilarious and generous to a fault.
“I remember we stayed up all night before we flew to Australia for the tour in case we missed the flight, and Kevin caught his finger in a door. We got it bandaged up and when we arrived he played the bouzouki with this huge bandage at the top of his hand.
I remember we stayed up all night before we flew to Australia for the tour in case we missed the flight, and Kevin caught his finger in a door. We got it bandaged up and when we arrived he played the bouzouki with this huge bandage at the top of his hand.
“And then he got bitten by a spider in Sydney and in the next few gigs his face was up like a bap. We laughed all the way through every gig.”
In more recent years Kevin would travel to Castlewellan to support the Soma
Festival, set up by Tíona after she moved to the County Down town.
“He’d play but he’d also help out in the kitchen, feeding the musicians,” she said.
Kevin was also a talented artist – many of the traditional Irish designs inside and outside of popular restaurant Goodfellas were painted by him.
He painted many of the famous murals in Andersonstown, including the first Joe McDonnell mural on the old Rosnareen Park flats and the GAA mural on Shaws Road.
Other friends told how he was always down-to-earth and modest.
His brother Fra said Kevin spent most of his life travelling to play music, spending many years in Galway. “He’s got a picture in the house of him sitting beside Ronnie Drew on his way to Australia,” he said.
Although his first love was traditional music, Kevin never really left his punk past behind, having set up a band called Bad Babies when he was a teenager. One friend said at sessions “he’d be the only musician who played traditional music wearing a Clash T-shirt."
Kevin was a regular at the Friday night sessions at Madden’s Bar and last year he played a brilliant St Patrick’s Day gig at The Empire with friends including Noel Barr and John Fitzpatrick. “That was one of the best gigs I’ve ever played in,” said Noel this week.
Kevin was the youngest surviving member of his family and has five brothers – Pól, Sean, Francis, Brendan and Colm – and was predeceased by his sisters Catherine and Una.
Kevin will be buried on Friday at Milltown Cemetery after 11am Requiem Mass at St Teresa’s church.