Brendan O’Dowda, tenor, was born in Dundalk, Co Louth, on October 1, 1925. He died in Southampton on February 22, 2002, aged 76.
The Irish tenor Brendan O’Dowda was held in great affection in his home country for his quirky interpretations of the popular composer Percy French, whose biography he also wrote. He was a gifted singer, who featured on BBC Radio, the Royal Command Performance and the Ed Sullivan Show, and appeared on the night of Irish television’s very first transmission.
One of nine children, Brendan O’Dowda was educated by the De la Salle Brothers in Dundalk. One year, on a boating holiday on Carlingford Lough, his singing was heard by residents of an hotel across the water. A guest invited him to meet a priest who was a cousin of the director of the Palestrina Choir. A successful audition in Dublin followed.
O’Dowda soon crossed the water to further his career, where he became founder member of BBC Radio’s Four Ramblers. On the strength of his performance, Val Parnell signed him for the London Palladium.
His first album, Emerald and Tartan, a collection of ballads, was followed by a season heading the bill at the Theatre Royal, Dublin. His second album, in 1958, was devoted to the works of Percy French. His versions of French’s The Mountains of Mourne, Phil the Fluter’s Ball and Are You Right There Michael Are You Right? ensured his popularity in Ireland and further afield. O’Dowda’s biography, The World of Percy, was published in 1981.
O’Dowda’s voice became a constant to listeners of Radio Éireann and in 1962, he appeared on Telefis Éireann’s first night of broadcasting. He was a promising Gaelic footballer as a youth for CoLouth.
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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