John Prine, the postman turned legend of country music, died yesterday. Prine grew up around Chicago but Ireland can claim him. Prine would claim Ireland as well. Prine was married to a Donegal woman. He owned a house near Kinvara, in one of the most beautiful parts of this country. He would visit Galway in the summer and was famous for dropping into the trad session held every Monday evening in the summer in Green's pub in the coastal south Galway town.
It was something that I always found made both Prine and Ireland so unique. A legitimate giant of American music could be found playing tunes on a Monday night for free in the corner of a Galway pub.
Prine told the Irish Times that Ireland brought him back to his childhood.
"I think it was because it reminded me of America in the 1950s and 1960s when I was growing up. It was my favourite time.”
And so today, along with the rest of the music-loving world, Ireland mourns John Prine.
While trawling through the countless tributes to Prine on social media, it was amazing to see just how many times Ireland came up. Perhaps it's people who discovered Prine through Greens, or perhaps Americans who were shocked to encounter him in Galway or Clare on a summer night. Clearly, that south Galway landscapes had etched themselves on his voice and mind.
RIP John Prine. He loved Ireland, way out west near Seamus Heaney's Flaggy Shore', Kinvara & more.
'And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.' pic.twitter.com/37jjdoBQnm
— Joe Ó Muirċeartaiġ (@muirioch) April 8, 2020
John and Fiona Prine own a place around Kinvara, Co. Galway, and John would come into Mary Green's pub and join the session. No muss, no fuss. Just another guy enjoying a pint and playing music for the love of it. (1)
— Dan Barry (@DanBarryNYT) April 8, 2020
The night before I moved to the US, family and old friends (incl. the Prines) gathered in Green’s to meet and listen to John do a set. It was my “American Wake” of sorts. The lovely irony of it including the music of America’s greatest songwriters wasn’t lost on me.
— Iarla (@iarlaoh) April 8, 2020
My family was with me, including my niece who has long-standing health issues. Local artist sketched the scene & John Prine - plus all the musicians who joined - signed & presented it as a gift to my niece. Saddened by news 2day, but cherish the memories he made. #JohnPrine RIP
— David Nally (@dpnally) April 8, 2020
Saw Prine for the first time in the early 90s at a music festival in Ireland. Not main stage, but a side tent. The place was full of people who knew and hung on his every word.
Have listened to John Prine Live as much as any other album in the interim to recapture that magic.
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) April 8, 2020
Tonight on his essential programme, John Creedon played an hour of Prine songs. You got the sense that he could have played 8-10 hours if the station would allow him. His death is an extraordinary loss. Singers like John Prine don't come much any more and we send our condolences to his family.
For what it's worth, Springsteen's tribute was pretty good.
Over here on E Street, we are crushed by the loss of John Prine. John and I were "New Dylans" together in the early 70s and he was never anything but the lovliest guy in the world. A true national treasure and a songwriter for the ages. We send our love and prayers to his family
Here's a recording of Prine from Green's back in 2011.