Tom Walsh (1927-2018) was a potato farmer and fiddler who lived his life on Railway Farm, Trentham, Victoria. Tom's musical genes came from an Irish ancestry that immigrated to Australia in the 1850s and 1860s. They took up land in the on the rich red soils near Trentham, in the hills to the north and west of Melbourne. Tom lived in the house built by his grandfather and made a living by growing spuds.
Tom's musical inspiration came primarily from his mother’s side, learning tunes from his maternal grandfather. He learned fiddle from the local nuns. Family and those local musicians who took an interest in him, helped develop his skill and ability through playing at house concerts and the like. These associations turned into bands that played for community balls, dances, socials, birthday parties and kitchen teas. Tom preferred to learn by ear and his influences led him towards the jigs, reels and set tunes from Ireland and Scotland and England, although he was quite happy to pick up tunes from the radio.
Music took a back seat through the middle years while Tom and his wife Mary raised nine children but the muse swept him up again in the mid 1980s. Softly spoken with a warm and gentle nature Tom always took a personal interest in those he met. For the last several decades of his life Tom convened and led sessions and music nights in various public places around Trentham. Always well attended these nights were memorable for their warm welcome, inclusive ethos and spirit of encouragement.
Alan Musgrove, Rob Willis and John Meredith interviewed Tom; their recordings are available from the National Library of Australia.