COLUMN: The sound of music on St Patrick's Day

It's St Patrick's Day and the sound of music will be filling many a pub and hall to celebrate.

More than likely accordions will somewhere be squeezed and the fiddles well bowed.

But a place in Paradise Square – near the Anglican Cathedral in Sheffield City Centre – was a venue to hear the sound of fiddles and good music, at any time of year.

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In the corner of this historic place of atmospheric cobbles and proud Georgian buildings, was once a public house known as ‘The Q in the Corner.’ The one-time landlord of this tavern, now a solicitors, was a man named Samuel Goodlad.

He was there between 1740 to 1790 and as a fiddler himself, was a lover of a good tune. Samuel was a philanthropist too, and encouraged a group of blind fiddlers to play at his place and form an organisation dedicated to good music.

The fiddlers continued to meet at The Q in The Corner until the 1840s.

Now there is a blue plaque on the building, paid for by Sheffield’s traditional music community, to remember this talented group of people who once filled its walls with reels and jigs.

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Another artistic connection in the square is that it was once the haunt of the sculptor Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey, one of the most important sculptors of the early 19th century. Chantrey was born in Norton, then a small village in Derbyshire, on April 7 1781. He had a studio at the opposite corner to The Q. Perhaps if the fiddlers were still meeting there he nipped in to hear a good tune in between his artistic endeavours.

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Chantrey moved to 24 Paradise Square when he had finished his apprenticeship, and whilst living there he advertised in the local newspaper then, The Iris, asking for clients for portraits.

As his confidence grew, he moved to London, in 1802, working as a woodcarvers apprentice.

A local example of his work is a bust of the Rev. James Wilkinson is in Sheffield Cathedral, by the North wall of the High Sanctuary. Also in Sheffield are his statues of Hope and Charity, on the old Royal Infirmary on Infirmary Road, now a supermarket.

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So, if you venture into the old square tonight, maybe you will hear the strains of fiddle music drifting into the night –and if it is not ghosts from the old Q tavern, it may well be from another ale house nearby, as the music tradition is still very much alive in Sheffield today.

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