Dermot O'Reilly, whose musical trio Ryan's Fancy introduced Canadians to traditional Newfoundland folk music in the 1970s, has died.
O'Reilly, 64, died of a heart attack Saturday morning in St. John's, his family said.
He formed the folk bandRyan's Fancy with Denis Ryan and Fergus O'Byrne in 1971. O'Reilly sang and played guitar and mandolin and last performed the nightbefore he died.
The group receivedthe East Coast Music Association'slifetime achievement award in 2004. In all, itreleased 12 albums, performed at pubs and kitchen parties across the country and hosted two syndicated television programs before breaking up in 1983.
The three musicians, who all moved to Canada from Ireland, met in Toronto in the late 1960s and started playing music together.
When they relocated to Newfoundland for university, they discovered traditional songs similar to the folk music of their native country, and Ryan's Fancy was born.
Many Ryan's Fancy songs are still performed by popular contemporary musicians, including Great Big Sea and the Barra MacNeils.
O'Reilly kept making music long after Ryan's Fancy disbanded. He played with O'Byrne at gigs in St. John's for years, and started his own production company to release local music in 1993.
His company, Piperstock Productions Ltd., has produced 25 albums.
O'Reilly once said that he was determined to preserve Newfoundland's rich cultural background.
"It's a very fragile thing," he said. "Sometimes people get sick and tired of hearing about it, but it's like everything else — you can't forget. We have to be reminded not to forget about who we are and where we came from."