James Francis (Jimmy) Lavin was born in the Bronx, New York on September 30, 1961. His father Dominic Lavin (Clontarf Co. Dublin) and mother Marianne Lavin (Bronx, NY) had deep family roots in Ballymote Co. Sligo and a love of its renowned tradition of Irish music, and so in 1970 Jimmy, his sister Teresa (R.I.P.) and brother Dom began piano accordion music lessons with Hall of Fame Co. Galway fiddler Pete Kelly.
All three siblings were original members of the Shannonaires Ceili Band that toured Ireland in the summers of 1973, 1974, and 1975 where they also competed in the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann competitions in Listowel Co. Kerry (’73, ’74) and Buncrana Co. Donegal (’75).
Jimmy began working summers in the Shamrock House in East Durham NY in 1976 where he met and started playing with great Irish Alps musicians such as “Mr. Catskills” Peter McKiernan, Joe Brennan, and John O’Hare.
It was also in the Catskills while playing at Gavin’s Golden Hill in the mid 1990’s that he met the love of his life, Nannette Torchia. They married in 1996 and had a daughter Emma, the light of Jimmy’s life.
Influenced by the virtuosity of his accordion idol Dermot O’Brien, over the course of his life Jimmy played with so many other great musicians: Jessie Owens, Willie Lynch, Tommy Dunn, Dennis Gallery, Muggs O’Dalaigh, Victor Cunneen, Gerry Hughes, and Tommy Mulvihill to name just a few. Jimmy also enjoyed playing house sessions and local shows with his Long Island circle of friends including Billy Furlong, Sean Quinn, Niall Mulligan, Sean Roarty, and Kathleen Lavin.
In 1981 at his sister Teresa’s wedding he first met Dermot Henry, leading to a lifetime of fun and wonderful music playing festivals, cruises and weddings with Dermot and Frank McKenna all over the USA.
Jimmy was a graduate of Manhattan College and after working at HIP for over twenty years became Director at Northwell Health Care Connect.
After a long and courageous battle with cancer Jimmy tragically passed in January 2020. His joyful playing brought a wonderful lift to every band he ever played with, but it was Jimmy’s true, generous and loving nature as a husband, father, brother, uncle and friend that brought a smile to everyone’s face.