For other people named John Rea, see John Rea (disambiguation).
John Rea was a hammered dulcimer player from Glenarm in County Antrim, Ireland.
Born in 1915 (some sources say 1922), John was the youngest of ten children. His six older brothers were all taught to play the fiddle by his father. However, as he was too small, his father had a dulcimer made by John's brother Alexander (a carpenter), using a borrowed dulcimer as a pattern, and that became John's instrument. This instrument was in turn used as the pattern for many other instruments made for other local people. In contrast to the wooden hammers generally employed by today's players, John used hammers made of thick steel wire, wound with wool; he made these himself from old bicycle spokes. His repertoire consisted mostly of traditional Irish tunes, though with a significant Scottish influence (he also played a number of strathspeys, which he referred to as "highlands"). His father taught him a number of jigs by the 18th century composer Walker "Piper" Jackson (from the townland of Lisdaun, parish of Ballingarry, Aughrim, County Limerick). John appeared on stage with the well-known group, The Chieftains. John died on November 15, 1983.