Born in Dublin, Ireland, Fergus emigrated to Canada in 1967 and, while living in Toronto, became a founding member of the Irish folk band, Ryan’s Fancy. The group moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1971 and for the next fourteen years, Fergus toured extensively throughout North America and Ireland as part of the trio. They were featured on the CBC network series, Ryan’s Fancy, for five years, and on the Tommy Makem/Ryan’s Fancy show, which was syndicated throughout Canada and the world. Ryan’s Fancy was also featured in the CBC TV production of The Last Run, which is part of the Newfoundland curriculum for Music (Exploring Music) at the intermediate level.
Ryan’s Fancy recorded fourteen albums during its tenure and songs from these albums can still be heard on local and national radio playlists. As a solo performer, Fergus has performed on numerous anthologies and collections of folk music, and has contributed to recordings by Newfoundland artists such as Great Big Sea, Jim Payne, Minnie White, The Sons of Erin, and Christina Smith. He recently produced a double CD collection called Ryan’s Fancy: What a Time, featuring material culled from the Ryan’s Fancy vinyl recordings of the 70’s and 80’s.
In 1987 Fergus graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a degree in Education. Since then he has been bringing folk music to children both as a classroom teacher and a performer. He has developed a program of songs, stories and slides related to his native Ireland for use in schools and leads a series of initiatives around the province through the auspices of the St. John’s Folk Arts Society called Young Folk at the Hall, designed to get young people playing traditional music.
Fergus has served on the board of directors for the St. John’s Folk Arts Society and spent several years volunteering at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival. He organizes the St. John’s Canada Day Concert on Confederation Hill, and was Chair of the Education Committee for the 2010 Juno Awards in St. John’s.
Fergus has been a member of the award-winning band Tickle Harbour, and is a past recipient of the NL Arts Council’s Arts in Education Award, as well as Music NL’s Music Educator of the Year Award. In 2004, Ryan’s Fancy received the ECMA’s Dr. Helen Creighton Award, in recognition of three individuals who had “a profound and lasting effect on the Atlantic Canadian music industry”.