Jim McKillop
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Jim McKillop

An early photo of Jim McKillop taken in the 1980's

Jim McKillop was born in the village of Cushendall, located in the beautiful Glens of Antrim, Ireland. From an early age, he was interested in playing music, beginning with the accordion and later guitar and banjo. He joined the merchant navy as a Marine Engineer: a career which took him all over the world. At the age of 26, he became interested in the fiddle and just four years later (without formal tuition), he won in the same year the three most important Irish Traditional Fiddling competitions in Ireland, i.e., The All Ireland Fleadh Ceoil (Senior Title), The Fiddler of Aileach and Fiddler of Oriel competitions.

Jim McKillop in his workshop in 2002.
His interest in many styles of music and in particular the music and technique of Fritz Kreisler, (whom he first heard on Count John McCormack recordings), led him to explore the technical requirements necessary for good tone production, and fingerboard positions other than first position. However, because of his marine career and the relatively late age at which he began his fiddle studies, Jim had no access to violin tuition.
Taken in Cootehill Co Cavan prior to filming for the Floating Bowhand video.
He overcame these difficulties by combining his natural mechanical ability with his artistic capability to enable him to gradually develop a unique system of violin/fiddle studies designed to produce a full and colourful tone. The result is that Jim's live performances and recordings have been described by music critics as "emotionally charged", "an "outstanding talent", "a virtuoso fiddle player", and "a man whose soul sings through his music".