Butcher, Edward (‘Eddie’) (1900–80), traditional singer, was born 8 May 1900 at Tamlaght, Magilligan, Co. Londonderry, third son among six sons and four daughters born to John Butcher, casual labourer, and Elizabeth Butcher (née Clyde). His father was a noted singer and all but one of the children carried on the family tradition, Eddie being the best and most committed. He was not a well known public figure and never sang professionally, but lived in Magilligan throughout his life where he was employed initially as a farm labourer and later as a road worker. He became more widely recognised through the work of the folk-music collector Hugh Shields. Shields met Butcher in 1953 and began to write down and record the many songs in Butcher's repertoire. These numbered as many as 200 traditional songs, classical ballads, or song fragments he had learned from his father and also from the family of his wife, Gracie Carr, whom he married in 1933. Many of these were published by Shields in Adam in paradise (1969) and Shamrock, rose, and thistle (1981). Butcher also composed material, choosing as his subjects topics of local interest and personal experience. He made recordings on the Outlet, Leader, and Ulster Folk Museum labels and was the subject of a number of broadcasts. Leading figures in the folk resurgence of the 1960s, such as Paul Brady and Andy Irvine, were influenced by him. He died at home 8 September 1980, leaving two sons and three daughters.
Hugh Shields, ‘Some bonny female sailors’, Ulster Folklife, x (1964), 35–45; Hugh Shields (ed.), Adam in paradise: traditional songs on courtship sung by Eddie Butcher (1969) (reviewed, Ceol, iv, no. i (1972), 26); ‘Recent meetings: Eddie Butcher’, Ceol Tíre, v (1975), 2; Len Graham, ‘Eddie Butcher: an appreciation’, Ulster Folk News, vii (Sept. 1980), 9; Hugh Shields, ‘“An old friend”: Eddie Butcher’, Ceol Tíre, xviii (1980), 9–11; John Fry and Eamon Ó Cathain, Irish folk guide (1981); Hugh Shields, Shamrock, rose, and thistle (1981); id., Narrative singing in Ireland (1993); McRedmond