Category Archives: Irish Music

Tony MacMahon

tony macmahon - Tony MacMahon

Tony MacMahon was an Irish accordion player from Ennis in Co. Clare, and an influential figure in the world of traditional Irish music.

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Joe Cooley – accordion

Joe Cooley - accordion

Irish accordion player Joe Cooley was born in 1924 in Peterswell, County Galway. A builder by trade, he was a charismatic figure in traditional music scenes in Clare, Britain, and the USA. Both his parents played the melodeon, and most of his older brothers were musicians. The Cooley house was a popular gathering place for dances, with music provided by the family.

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Belfast TradFest 2024

belfast tradfest

Belfast TradFest, now in its sixth year, returns from July 21 to 28, offering a week-long celebration of traditional music, dance, and culture. This vibrant festival features a summer school, concerts, album launches, céilís, and a session trail, making it a must-attend event for enthusiasts of Irish and Scottish traditions.

Summer School

The festival’s summer school is a highlight, providing masterclasses for participants of all ages and skill levels. Held at Ulster University from Monday to Friday, the summer school covers various instruments, singing, and dancing. Renowned tutors include Mary Bergin, Joanie Madden, Derek Hickey, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Ryan Molloy, Zoë Conway, Tara Breen, Mick O’Brien, Cathal Hayden, Padraig Rynne, and Aisling Lyons.

Specialized classes feature unique instruments and styles:

  • Cello with Neil Martin
  • Sean Nós Singing with Diane Cannon
  • Snare Drum with Mark Wilson
  • Smallpipes with Fin Moore
  • Bagpipes with Grahame Harris
  • Sean Nós Dancing with Mary McGuiggan
  • Bodhrán with Aimée Farrell Courtney and Robbie Harris
  • Flute with Kevin Crawford, Catherine McEvoy, and Gary Hastings

Set dancing classes are available throughout the week. Booking for the summer school can be done through the festival’s website.

Concerts and Album Launches

The festival kicks off on July 21 with an opening concert at the Empire Music Hall, featuring Moya Brennan, Zoë Conway, and John McIntyre. Highlights of the concert schedule include:

  • July 22: Flutopia at the Black Box, and performances by Diane Cannon, Mick O’Brien, Derek Hickey, Ryan Molloy, Lorraine Ní Bhriain, and George McAdam.
  • July 23: Na Máistrí / Masters Of Traditional Music concert and a tribute concert dedicated to Seán Maguire.
  • July 24: A concert at Crescent Arts Centre celebrating the Belfast Harpers Assembly of 1792, and performances by Bow Brothers, Mary Dillon, Dónal O’Connor, and Neil Martin.
  • July 25: “With Pipe and Drum” concert at the Titanic Hotel, Lúnasa, and Seamie O’Dowd.
  • July 26: Jiggy, and a performance by Tara Breen, Pádraig Rynne, and Jim Murray.
  • July 27: Cherish the Ladies.

Additional notable events include a Solo Highland Piping Competition on July 21, album launches by Conor Caldwell and Ryan Molloy, and traditional singer and poet Paddy Tunney on July 27.

Céilís and Session Trail

The festival also features a traditional sessions trail in pubs and venues across Belfast, providing an authentic Irish cultural experience. Céilís include the Titanic Slipway Céilí on July 21 and a Pride Céilí at the Black Box on July 24. Festival club gigs will be hosted at the John Hewitt Bar and The Deer’s Head, ensuring the festivities continue late into the night.

For more information and booking details, visit the official Belfast TradFest website at Join in celebrating the rich traditions of Irish and Scottish music and dance at this unforgettable festival.



Micheal O’Raghallaigh – concertina

micheal o raghallaigh - Micheal O'Raghallaigh - concertina

Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh is a concertina player from County Meath, Ireland. Growing up in a musical family, he developed a strong foundation in traditional Irish music from an early age and has led to a significant career as a performer, recording artist, and teacher.

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Scoil Acla 2024

scoil acla

The Scoil Acla Summer School will take place on Achill Island from July 28th to August 3rd, 2024. This annual event will feature traditional Irish music, culture, language, and heritage, drawing participants from various locations.

Attendees can participate in workshops, performances, and music sessions. This year, the festival will highlight the banjo’s role in Irish traditional music, with a focus on this instrument.

Theresa O’Grady, a well-known banjo player from Sligo, will be the Artist in Residence for 2024, continuing a tradition of distinguished artists.

For more details and registration, visit An Early Bird offer is available until the end of June.

International Festival for Irish Harp – July 2024

Harp Festival 2024 - International Festival for Irish Harp - July 2024

An Chúirt Chruitireachta Festival – Termonfeckin

The Irish harp is celebrated by An Chúirt Chruitireachta, one of the premier international festivals. The diverse and expansive world of harping, both in Ireland and internationally, is explored through the 2024 festival theme, “Voice and Harp.”

Festival Details

This year’s festival will be held from Sunday, 30th June to Friday, 5th July at An Grianán, Termonfeckin, Co. Louth. Options for residential and day-student bookings will be offered alongside evening concerts. Participants will be engaged with fellow harpers, a deeper understanding of Irish music, song, and dance will be gained, and the intricacies of the harp will be explored. An exceptional celebration of harp music is promised by the panel of tutors and talented artists.


For full details, visit
Book tickets at

Event Schedule

Evening Concerts at An Grianán (8 pm):

  • Sun 30th June
  • Mon 1st July
  • Tues 2nd July
  • Wed 3rd July
  • Thurs 4th July

Workshops at An Grianán (2.30 pm and 3.30 pm):

  • Mon 1st July
  • Tues 2nd July
  • Thurs 4th July

Lunchtime Concerts at the Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda (1 pm):

  • Tues 2nd July
  • Thurs 4th July


  • Anne-Marie O’Farrell
  • Cormac De Barra
  • Deirdre Granville
  • Gráinne Hambly
  • Kim Fleming
  • Deirdre Ní Bhuachalla
  • Máire Ní Chathasaigh
  • Kathleen Loughnane
  • Áine Ní Dhubhghaill
  • Úna Ní Fhlannagáin


  • Aisling Urwin
  • Niamh O’Brien
  • Eilís Lavelle
  • Robert Harvey
  • Zoë Conway
  • John McIntyre
  • Méabh McKenna
  • Gerry Cullen and the Drogheda Singers
  • Séamus Ó Flatharta
  • Caoimhe Ní Fhlatharta
  • Seosaimhín Ní Bheaglaoich
  • Cormac de Barra
  • Suntou Susso

Artist in Residence

  • Gráinne Meyer

Michael Rooney – harp

michael rooney - Michael Rooney - harp

Michael Rooney is a composer and traditional Irish harp player from Scotstown, County Monaghan, now residing in County Sligo. He has composed 19 suites of music over the past 20 years, including notable works such as ‘The Ulster Suite’ (2022), ‘Clairseoireacht’ (2022), ‘Constance’ (2020), ‘The Famine Suite’ (2019), ‘The Macalla Suite’ (2016), ‘Boróimhe Suite’ (2014), ‘The Second Coming’ (2014), ‘De Cuéllar Suite’ (2011), and ‘Battle of the Books Suite’ (2007).

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Laoise Kelly – Irish harpist

Laoise kelly

Laoise Kelly is an Irish harpist known for her contributions to traditional Irish music. She has played a significant role in shaping the contemporary landscape of Irish harp music with her distinctive style and dedication.

In 2020, Kelly received the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Traditional Musician of the Year award. She co-founded the band Bumblebees and is a founding member of the traditional group Fiddletree. Her collaborations include working with The Chieftains, Sharon Shannon, and Matt Molloy, as well as international orchestras and traditional music ensembles.

Kelly has released several solo albums featuring traditional Irish tunes and original compositions. She also appears on numerous collaborative recordings, contributing to a variety of projects within the traditional music community.

In addition to her performing career, Kelly is actively involved in teaching. She conducts workshops and masterclasses for harp students around the world, promoting the Irish harp and traditional Irish music.

Kelly performs at major festivals and venues globally, including Celtic Connections and The National Concert Hall in Dublin. Her efforts in performance, recording, and education continue to support and enhance the appreciation of traditional Irish music.

Going further

The Instruments of Irish Traditional Music

Laoise Kelly Website

Cormac Breatnach – Low whistle

The Irish Low Whistle – A Complete Introduction

Photo: Laoise Kelly

Noel Hill – concertina

Noel Hill Concertina

Noel Hill, is a prominent Irish concertina player known for his influence on modern Irish concertina music and on Irish traditional music in general.

Noel Hill grew up in a musically rich environment. His family, including his parents, grandparents, and their siblings, were all concertina players. His uncle, Padraig A Chnoic (Paddy Hill), played a significant role in his musical development. Hill’s home was the last in the area to host traditional Irish house dances, providing a lively atmosphere for learning music. He started playing the concertina at the age of nine, initially guided by his mother.

Although Hill was interested in the uilleann pipes, he focused on the concertina due to its availability. He was influenced by renowned musicians such as Willie Clancy, Paddy Canny, Peter O’Loughlin, Paddy Murphy, and Micky Hanrahan. By age seventeen, Hill had formed the group Inchiquin with Tony Linnane, Tony Callanan, and Kieran Hanrahan. After Callanan and Hanrahan left to form Stockton’s Wing, Hill and Linnane continued as a duo.

Noel Hill’s career is marked by several key recordings:

  • Noel Hill and Tony Linnane (1978): Featuring Tony Linnane (fiddle), Matt Molloy (flute), and Alec Finn (bouzouki and mando-cello).
  • Í gCnoc na Graí (1985): Recorded live with Tony MacMahon and Clare set dancers.
  • The Irish Concertina (1988): His first solo album, which became an important reference for concertina playing.
  • The Irish Concertina 2 (2005).
  • The Irish Concertina 3 ‘Live in New York’ (2016).

Hill has toured extensively, performing in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, China, and Hong Kong. He also teaches at the Willie Clancy Summer School and runs the Noel Hill Irish Concertina Schools in Ireland and the United States.
In 2011, Hill received TG4’s Gradam Ceoil award, acknowledging his contributions to Irish music. His performances and recordings are well-regarded for their technical skill and depth.

Going Further

Mrs Crotty – Concertina

The Irish Concertina

Irish Concertina Fingering Chart

Kitty Hayes – concertina

Tune Types in Irish Traditional Music

Ornamentation in Irish Music

Noel Hill website

Image: Noel Hill

Liam O’Flynn – uilleann pipes

Liam O'Flynn

Liam O’Flynn, also known as Liam Óg Flynn, was an Irish uilleann piper. Born on 15 September 1945 in Kill, County Kildare, he was as a prominent figure in the world of Irish traditional music.

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