Mayo author, artist, musician and historian Steve Dunford dies


Steve Dunford, Killala and Castlebar, whose deaths took place today. PHOTO: JOHN O’GRADY

The death of Steve Dunford, Killala, and formerly of Marian Row, Castlebar, has sparked tremendous sense of loss across the county.

The deceased was a retired author, artist, musician, historian and banker.

But he was perhaps best known as the inspiration behind “In the Footsteps of Humbert,” an initiative that in many ways celebrated the Rebellion of 1798 and the Year of the French in Mayo.

On its Twitter page today, In Humbert’s Footsteps said it was with deep sadness and heavy hearts that they shared the news of the passing of “Our General Steve Dunford”.

“We will never see his fellow man again. Sincere condolences to Bernie, John, Romy and all the family. May his noble soul rest in peace. Erin va bragh, Vive la France,” the tweet added.

Paying tribute to him, Councilor Ger Deere, who worked closely with him on the award-winning reenactment of ‘In Humbert’s Footsteps’ in Castlebar in August 2013, said Steve had a great passion for local history and in particular the events of 1798., which he promoted nationally and internationally on every occasion.

He offered his condolences to his wife Bernie, his son John, his daughter Romy, his brothers John, Dublin and Jarlath (Chuck), Ballina, his sister Derval, Westport and his extended family to their loss.

He was predeceased by his parents Stephen and Bernie and his brother Tom.

Steve was the author and illustrator of a number of critically acclaimed books, including TIrish bandits; Killala: Aspects of its heritage; A walk in old Killala; In Humbert’s footsteps: Mayo 1798, and Le Táin Bó Flidhais: “Le Mayo Táin”.

A founding member, along with Mary Black, of the legendary traditional ’70s band General Humbert, Steve has worked as a musician, producer and promoter with many of the country’s most famous artists including Luka Bloom, Brian Kennedy, Eimer Quinn, Máire Breatnach, Sharon Shannon, Declan O ‘Rourke, Niamh Parsons, Dolores Keane, Sonny Condell, Jim McCann, and he has produced CDs for record companies in Ireland, the United States, France, Germany and Japan.

He had the distinction of having a song written in his honor by The Waterboys, a piece called “Dunford’s Fancy”.

Steve worked for several years with Gael Linn on their cultural series Slogadh, organizing art workshops for children and designing sets.

He was an accomplished published poet and speaker, addressing many prestigious Mayo gatherings over the years including Turas na mBan, The Humbert Summer School, and The Connaught Fleadh.

He has worked extensively in television and in the film industry as Music Director and was Music Director of the RTÉ Voyage series with Dick Warner, as well as the Irish film Angela Mooney Dies Again, with Mia Farrow and Brendan Gleeson.

In 2000, he produced and co-wrote his own documentary for TG4, Solas sna nDorchadas, chronicling the life of Mayo-born writer, patriot and seanchaí, Michael Mac Ruairí.

The deceased was also a talented artist, cartoonist, illustrator and designer whose work has featured in many Irish periodicals and publications, including his own books.

He received the Mayo People of the Year award in 2018 in recognition of his outstanding work and accomplishments.

May her sweet soul rest in peace.

Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.

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