Irish Community Connections by Irish Community News
Traditional Irish music pioneer Larry Reynolds dies
Posted on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 06:58 AM
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|Larry Reynolds, RIP|
With the passing of Larry Reynolds, the Irish community of Boston and New England mourns the loss of a great friend and a great cultural icon. Over the course of almost 60 years, Larry Reynolds' name became synonymous with the explosion in popularity of traditional Irish music throughout the Northeast and for that matter he is recognized the world over as one of the leaders in the resurgence of this genre.
Larry emigrated from Ballinasloe, Galway to Boston in 1953, fiddle in hand, and quickly immersed himself in the thriving dance hall scene of the day. In 1975 he helped found the Boston chapter of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, which he grew into one of the most active branches in the world. Larry was inducted into the Comhaltas Hall of Fame and was honored by the Irish Cultural Centre of New England.
Through all the accolades, Larry remained grounded in his love for his family, his dedication to his day job as a master carpenter and always sharing his passion for traditional music. Politicians from Tip O'Neill to Billy Bulger often called on Larry and friends to bring a bit of Ireland to their event or celebration. And of course there were the seisiúns - Larry could be found every Monday night at the Green Briar, plying his craft and leading the way for successive generations of musicians.
Mike Quinlin of Milton said of his friend, "As well as being an accomplished musician, Larry was a leader in the Irish American community. The Boston Comhaltas chapter he helped create has kept Irish music vibrant in the New England region for the past four decades."
"Larry is rightly being praised as a natural leader and a fine musician. I'll remember him as a generous and loyal friend who always sought to bring out the best in people. He loved his family deeply and he made friends everywhere he went. He represented the Irish in America in an authentic, dignified and uplifting way throughout his life."
Richard Archer, president of the Knights and Ladies of St. Finbarr announced to the Cork club, " Larry will be missed by his many friends and musicians that he helped over the years. Now that his work is complete I'm certain that the Man 'Up There' has a nice place waiting for Larry for all the work he has done. May he Rest in Peace."
LAWRENCE F. REYNOLDS Sr. RIP
Waltham – Mr. Lawrence F. Reynolds, Sr., of Waltham, died Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He was 80.
Larry was born in a little town called Ahascragh in County Galway, Ireland on September 22, 1932 and was raised there, the 12th of 13 children, 6 girls and 7 boys born to the late Cornelius and Mary (Kenny) Reynolds.
Larry's boyhood home was a well-known gathering place for music and house dancing, where there was "never a shortage of either." He began to learn the fiddle at age 10 when his oldest brother Harry bought one for him and his sister Betty, working as a domestic for a family in Ballinasloe, paid for lessons.
He played with a couple of different bands in Ireland before immigrating to Boston in 1953, where he met his future bride, Phyllis M. Preece, a piano player. They were married on April 30, 1954 at Saint Bernard's Church in Concord and were blessed with 7 children—6 boys and 1 girl. Over the years, Phyllis imparted her knowledge of music to their children, meanwhile graciously hosting in their Waltham home innumerable musicians, singers, dancers and friends from across the United States and Ireland.
The couple lived in Somerville and in Lexington for a time before moving to Waltham in 1964. Larry worked all of his life as a carpenter with Local 67 of the Carpenters Union in Boston. His family and friends attest to the fact that Larry was a man of boundless energy, devoted to his family and to his Church and was filled with a generosity of spirit that infected those around him. Larry's word was his bond and his vise-like handshake assured those he loved and cared about his enduring loyalty.
Although he earned his living using his hands to build things his real passion in life was to use those hardworking, coarse hands for a gentler purpose . . . to build beautiful music. Having hosted the Comhaltas Concert Tour Group in 1973, '74, and '75, Larry and others founded the Boston Hanafin-Cooley Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCE) in 1976, an organization promoting traditional Irish culture, music and dance in the Boston area. He had served as chairman of the group and treasurer of the North American Provincial Council of CCE. Larry was inducted into the organization's Hall of Fame in November, 2002.
Since coming to the States in the 1950s, Larry played with several groups: The Tara Ceili Band, The Connaught Ceili Band, The Boston Ceili Band, Tommy Sheridan Band, Tara Hill and The Boston Comhaltas Ceili Band. Larry recorded with The Connaught Ceili Band and with Comhaltas band members and guests on the album We're Irish Still, produced in 1980.
In 1984, Seamus Connolly and Larry began broadcasting a one-hour radio program on Boston radio station WNTN, 1550 AM on Saturday mornings, the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Hour, a show that brought traditional Irish music and banter into the homes of listeners worldwide.
In addition to his beloved wife of 58 years, Phyllis, Larry leaves his children, Lawrence F. Reynolds, Jr. of Waltham, Deborah A. Bendall and her husband, Sean, of Maynard, Michael J. Reynolds of Norwood, James J. Reynolds and his wife, Diane, of Belmont, Sean W. Reynolds and his wife, Sheila, and Kevin P. Reynolds and his wife, Lisa, all of Waltham; his grandchildren, Brian, Megan, Andrew, Sara, Emma, Michael John, Tena, Eric, James, Jennifer, Tara, Kasey, Shannon, Sean, Jr., Liam, Declan, Brigid, Molly and Kevin; his great-grandchildren, Austin and Cara; his sister and brother, Eleanor Courier of Orange, California and Sean Reynolds of Ahascragh, Co. Galway and many nieces and nephews.
Larry was also the father of the late Brian E. Reynolds and a brother of the late Harry, William, Michael, Martha, Eileen, Patrick, Elizabeth, Nan and James Reynolds and Mary Guider.
Family and friends will honor and remember Larry's life by gathering for calling hours in The Joyce Funeral Home, 245 Main Street (Rte. 20), Waltham on Wednesday, October 10th, from 3 to 9 p.m. and again at 9:15 a.m. on Thursday morning before leaving in procession to Saint Jude Church, 147 Main Street, Waltham where his Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Burial will follow in Saint Mary's Cemetery, Needham.
Memorial donations may be made to The Larry Reynolds Memorial Scholarship Fund for the CCE Boston Music School in care of Michael Hickey, Treasurer, 100 Woodpecker Road, Stoughton, MA 02072.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam (May he rest in peace).