Roseville Irish folk musician Charlie Taylor was mourned and celebrated at a wake March 24. Loved by many in the Detroit community, Taylor started the Fraternal Order of United Irishmen and helped found the Old Shillelagh and Emerald Isle Irish pubs.

Roseville Irish folk musician Charlie Taylor was mourned and celebrated at a wake March 24. Loved by many in the Detroit community, Taylor started the Fraternal Order of United Irishmen and helped found the Old Shillelagh and Emerald Isle Irish pubs.

Photo provided by Sean Taylor


Roseville singer honored after prolific life and career

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published April 2, 2019

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ROSEVILLE — Hundreds of friends and well-wishers turned out March 24 to pay their final respects to famed local singer and Roseville resident Charlie Taylor.

A traditional Irish wake took place in his honor at the Gaelic League/Irish American Club in Detroit. Throughout his more than 50-year career, Taylor’s tenor voice and repertoire of Irish songs made him a Detroit-area favorite.

“The traditional wake celebrated my father’s great memorable life with food and Irish music,” said his son, Sean Taylor. “The club likely saw more people than during its St. Patrick’s Day party.” 

Taylor died Feb. 5 at the age of 90. Raised in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, he followed his love for music all the way to Milan, Italy, where he trained as an opera tenor. He eventually returned to Detroit and transitioned to specialize in Irish folk music.

“He had a tremendous voice; he was a classic Irish tenor. He had a beautiful voice,” said Sean Taylor. “He grew up in Corktown near the old Tiger Stadium. He was of Irish heritage and grew up in a largely Irish neighborhood. It’s difficult to break into the opera field — there aren’t a whole lot of other people making a living singing opera in this country — so he made that transition, and it was something he loved.”

Sean Taylor added that his father became well-loved to his fans not only for the quality of his voice, but also for his skills as an entertainer.

“My dad wasn’t just a singer; he considered himself an entertainer,” he said. “He would always tell stories and talk with the audience. He would always do Irish toasts with the audience.”

Well-known for his many performances at pubs, concerts and fundraisers, Taylor also was a founding partner in Detroit Irish pubs the Old Shillelagh and the Emerald Isle. 

“He was a tremendous family man who believed Detroit would come back,” said his son. “When he started the Old Shillelagh in 1975, Detroit was in a bad place — and he opened it up and he always maintained Detroit would come back. … He was very encouraged by the turnarounds that happened in the city in the last years of his life.”

Additionally, Taylor was the founder and first president of the Fraternal Order of United Irishmen, a charitable group created to help Detroit’s Irish-American community.  

“Back in 1978, St. Patrick’s Senior Center (in Detroit) wanted to have a festival to raise some money to keep doing their work over there,” explained longtime friend and FOUI member Joe Parsky. “Charlie came to us in the pubs and said he needed some help to help the senior center, and that got the ball rolling of the organization. We probably raised $1 million for charitable organizations over the years, and that was all thanks to Charlie. He cared about people. Anytime anyone needed someone to sing at a fundraiser, he was there.”

Taylor was married 64 years to the late Joan (Shinavar) Taylor, who died in August 2018. The couple had five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Taylor was the proud father of Sean, Kevin, Garrett and his daughters, Siobhan Hodgson and Sheila Taylor.

Taylor’s children will transport his ashes and those of their mother to the Taylor Cemetery in West Virginia, where his family came from before moving to Detroit.

“He was around for a long time, and he was one of the greatest Irish singers I’ve ever heard,” remarked Parsky. “I’ve known him since 1974. I heard him sing once, and I was hooked.”

Call Staff Writer Brendan Losinski at (586) 498-1068.

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