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Anniversary launch for new biography of composer Percy French

By Alf McCreary

Published 06/05/2016

Percy French
Percy French

A new biography of Irish songwriter Percy French has been launched in Belfast's Linen Hall Library to honour his birth on May Day in 1854.

French was responsible for such standards as The Mountains Of Mourne, Are Ye Right There Michael? and Come Back Paddy Reilly To Ballyjamesduff.

The launch of Tones That Are Tender took place in the presence of author Berrie O'Neill, who was celebrating his 86th birthday, and Sam McCready (79), whose one-man show on French - Memories Of Unforgotten Years - is running at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast until Sunday.

Mr O'Neill has been working on the book for the past two years.

He said: "My motivation was largely due to my belief that French is undervalued to the fullest extent of his unique array of creative talents as a poet, painter, parodist, journalist, songwriter and entertainer, and in his overall cultural legacy.

"During the past two years the book was very much a part of my life as I tried to get everything right. I think a part of my soul went into it as well."

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