Legendary Players - 2 John Rea, Ireland Jun 12, 2007 21:01:23 GMT 1
Post by Dick Glasgow on Jun 12, 2007 21:01:23 GMT 1
Legendary Players - 2 John Rea, Ireland
Here's some info on the legendary Co Antrim Hammered Dulcimer player, John Rea, copied from my own website:
However the most famous Co. Antrim Hammered Dulcimer player of them all was John Rea of Glenarm.
He started out on the Dulcimer at the age of eight, and says his brothers all got fiddles but he was too small, so he got the dulcimer!
John worked on the tug-boat in Belfast Lough and lived on board a lot of the time, which I suppose gave him plenty of time to practice.
Today people play the dulcimer with little wooden hammers but John Rea used hammers made of thick steel wire, wound with wool, which were his own idea.
John, in his day, was very famous. He performed on the TV, played with ‘The Chieftains’ and recorded two LPs.
In Scotland the players used to play a lot of old song airs, and of songs which were popular between the wars, but John Rea tended to play the old traditional tunes he learned from his dad’s fiddle playing.
So Reels, Jigs, Marches and Strathspeys were more his cup of tea and a fine healthy mix of Scottish and Irish tunes he played too.
John Rea, before he died, used to regularly play duets with his brother William Rea, and thankfully Willie is still going strong, as is Nat Magee, so the glens still ring to the sound of these two men playing their Hammered Dulcimers.
Causeway Dulcimer site
P. S. Sadly we lost Nat Magee earlier this year.
Here is a short piece I wrote for another music forum, on Nat:
All of you, who have heard the magical sound of the Hammered Dulcimer being played by the likes of the late Derek Bell or the late John Rea of Glenarm, will know what a wonderful sound this instrument produces.
So it is with sadness that I must write to tell you that one of the last of the Co Antrim Dulcimer players, Nat Magee, passed away on Wednesday the 28th of February.
Nat Magee, of Larne, was one of only a handful of Co Antrim Hammered Dulcimer players who still play this instrument.
Nat, who’s Dulcimer was an exact copy of John Rea’s instrument, was a warm, friendly individual who was a great ambassador for this rare instrument.
He was a very natural performer & I have seen Nat take out his Dulcimer in a crowded Bank to show slightly bemused staff & customers & I have also seen him produce his Dulcimer on a busy street pavement to entrance young children with the magical sound of this instrument.
Nat was a performer at both the Cork Dulcimer Festivals and the Causeway Dulcimer Festivals and he also performed, over the years, at various concerts and sessions around the Glens of Antrim & Causeway Coast, always eager to demonstrate the Dulcimer to anyone who was even the least bit interested.
I know Nat will be sadly missed by many Dulcimer players around the World.
To see some photographs & video clips of Nat playing his Dulcimer at the ‘Causeway Dulcimer Festival’ in 2005, go to
Christy Burn’s web page