Tones that are Tender PB 2020 Cover v1-1

Tones That Are Tender

Percy French 1854-1920

By: Berrie O’Neill

Publication Date:


This richly illustrated biography of Percy French gives renewed Focus to the life of the great Irish artist and entertainer. French was born in 1984 at Cloonyquin, County Roscommon. Although his father has hoped he would be an engineer, French found his true metier through songwriting, watercolour painting and performance.

Tones That Are Tender tells the story of his colourful career, from stints as ‘Inspector of Drains’ in Cavan, journalism with the Irish Cyclist and Athlete and The Jarvey, to years in private drawing-rooms and on stage. Rarely has so much talent for music, art, poetry and comedy found expression in one person. French was to delight countless audiences with his travelling variety shows, composing some of Ireland’s most beloved songs, including ‘The Mountains o’ Mourne’, ‘ Come Back, Paddy Reilly’ and ‘Phil the Fluter’s Ball’.

Photographs, playbills, song covers and watercolours fill these celebratory pages. They yield a unique glimpse of French in context, with verses as evocative today as when they first entranced his listeners.