Honored February 16, 2001
Kevin McGillian, a soft spoken, modest man was born in Legfordrum in Tyrone, one of 14 children and moved to Philadelphia at the age of 26. Kevin relates fondly the story of how his mother sent to England for an accordion for him and paid the sum of 7 shillings and it was money well spent given his long musical career. Kevin has been a mainstay of Irish Traditional Music in the Delaware Valley area playing at every Irish Society monthly ceili and hoolie from Trenton to Bucks Co. to South Jersey to Wilmington, and he pays particular tribute to his partner of 22 years, Pancho. In 1955 (and continuing for 11 years) Kevin started playing frequently at the Emerald Bar in Philadelphia every weekend, where he also established a following. Kevin used to sit in on sessions with “Old Man Reavy” (Ed Reavy Sr.), John Vesey, John Kelly, Tommy Caulfield and Pete Ward – all legendary giants in traditional Irish Music in Philadelphia for many years. Kevin married Mary Boyce in 1959 and together they raised 6 children. His love of music has been passed on to his children all of whom play Irish music on a variety of instruments. In 1997 at the main stage of the Philadelphia Ceili Group Traditional Festival where Kevin has played for over 20 years, the audience rose to their feet to acclaim the entire McGillian family playing together. It was a fitting tribute to Kevin and Mary and their talented family of musicians. While shy and soft-spoken Kevin, obviously lets his accordion express the love of native land, his heritage and Irish music playing with great ease and respect.