Paddy Graber is a traditional singer and story-teller who
Vancouver, B.C. He was born in 1923 in Clonmel, County Tipperary,
southern Ireland. He grew up in a rich musical family. His mother was a
Jewess, whose lineage can be traced back to the Spanish Inquisition.
ancestors came to Ireland about ten generations earlier. She was also a
traditional singer in Counties Limerick and Tipperary. His father,
Irish born, was a political/labor activist. As a youth, Paddy also
in China and England before coming to Canada many years ago.
I met Paddy about seven years ago through the Seattle Song Circle at
Rainy Camp, a weekend singing retreat outside of Seattle. He is a
frequent performer at Northwest Folklife and other festivals and
traditional Irish venues. With little formal schooling, Paddy is an
expert on Irish history, folklore, and music. He has a phenomenal
memory, and probably knows most Irish folk songs and stories sung or
told. Much of his musical repertoire comes from his family in Ireland
and often includes local variants of traditional Irish songs.
Paddy has suffered some small strokes in recent years and uses a cane,
but mostly as a backup for balance if needed. I have seen him break
into a jig on stage after throwing his cane aside (gasps from the
audience!), or he will
use the cane as a prop in his story telling.
As Paddy grows older and is subject to more strokes, we are all-too
aware of the treasure contained in his mind. Paddy says these songs and
stories “stand a real chance of being lost forever, much like when the
sea washes over a beach, then recedes, washing all that was left on the
beach away.” It is important that we preserve these traditions from
people like Paddy who
have experienced much of it themselves, otherwise they will be lost
In November, 2003, I spent a couple of days with Paddy in Seattle,
recording his stories and songs in my living room. Here is a sample of
some of them; there are more to be released in the future. I hope you
will preserve these and pass them on to future generations.
Stewart Hendrickson, November, 2003
STORIES AND SONGS FROM MY IRISH HOME
PADDY GRABER – A NEW
to Hendrickson's Music Page