Percy French

percy french

(William) Percy French (1 May 1854 – 24 January 1920) was a painter, songwriter and entertainer.  He was born at Cloonyquin House, near Elphin, County Roscommon.  He graduated from TCD as a civil engineer in 1881 and joined the Board of Works in County Cavan as an Inspector of Drains.  It is said that he wrote his best songs during this period.  He was a prolific painter of landscape watercolours and during this period considered art to be his true vocation.
French's long and successful career as a songwriter and entertainer began when the Board of Works reduced its staff around 1887.  He became renowned for composing and singing comic songs. "Are Ye Right There Michael" ridiculed the state of the rail system in rural County Clare.  When the rail company took a libel action against French, he arrived late for the court hearing and blamed the West Clare Railway for his lateness.  The case against him was dismissed.  In 1920, he took ill while performing in Glasgow and died some days later.