The late Nora Butler Swan and her late husband Pat Swan, Nenagh. Described as two of the nicest people you could ever meet and who distinguished themselves on the Fleadh Cheoil circuit. Photograph: Brid Ryan

Fond recollections of acclaimed singer Nóra

On May 4th, 2020, we heard the sad news that our friend Nóra Butler had passed away. Nóra was one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. My wife Anne and I were lucky enough to have been friends with her for many years. Nóra was a native of Clash, Toomevara.

Nóra’s first Fleadh Cheoil was in Roscrea, her mother brought her to sing in the Tipperary singing contest, which she won. After that, I used to meet her at the dances with her sister Mary. They were friends with the late Seán Cleare, Glasshouse - another great singer and an All-Ireland champion - Seán was also a neighbour of my own.

I met Nóra at many a Fleadh Cheoil - we were in Derry, Cavan, Sligo, Tullamore, Ennis, Drogheda, Listowel and many more. Please God, we will see those days again but sadly Nóra won’t be there in person. Every year after the Fleadh, we met in Bourkes of Cangort Park, Shinrone, where we enjoyed wonderful music. The Bourkes are great Irish musicians who came home from England for the Fleadh. All the musicians from around came and we often stayed until all hours of the morning. Nóra was one of the leads along with many other great musicians.

We also met Nóra and her husband Pat (Paddy) Swan in the Rambling House in the Pastoral Centre in Nenagh regularly over the years. Nóra had a generosity of spirit and love which touched many people and nurtured many young musicians in the Rambling House. She did not care how talented anybody was, she gave every single person who rambled in to the Rambling House a chance to listen, perform or both.

Another great memory I have is when Social Services and the Active Retirement Groups from Shinrone went on trips, we often stopped in Ború Ború in Cashel for a cup of tea. Nóra and Paddy were always there with a welcoming smile, a few songs and tunes and were ready to chat with us all. Nóra was true to Tipperary, she always finished up with some good Tipperary songs, ‘Slieve na mBan’ or ‘My home lies in Tipperary’. A frequently requested song from Nóra and Paddy was ‘Davey the Drover from Ballyporeen’. Nóra’s husband Paddy was a lovely man. He was a drummer for a céilí band and a pure gentleman. If we hadn’t had lockdown we would have celebrated her great contribution to life and music but it was not to be due to the pandemic. I recall a friend and a neighbour of ours, Tadgh Maher, singing beautifully at her funeral Mass. It was an honour knowing Nóra and her husband over the years, they really were some of the nicest people you could ever meet and ramble with through life. May they both rest in peace.

- John Ormond of Birr Comhaltas

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