Cormac Breatnach is an influential Irish whistle and low whistle player from Dublin, co founder of the band Deiseal. His style on the low whistle is a unique fusion of traditional Irish music with innovative jazz and blues influences. He is known for his deep, resonant tone and fluid, lyrical phrasing. His use of intricate ornamentation and rhythmic versatility, combined with elements of improvisation, sets his style apart. His distinctive approach makes his low whistle playing not only technically impressive but also deeply emotive and engaging.

His professional career took off in the mid-1980s, starting with his involvement in Donal Lunny’s Celtic Orchestra in 1985, where he contributed to a recording for RTE’s PanCeltic TV Programme. In 1987, he joined The Donal Lunny Band, performing for the O’Riada Retrospective at the National Concert Hall and releasing an album under the Gael-Linn Label. This period marked the beginning of several collaborations with artists like Elvis Costello and others.

Breatnach also explored independent ventures, founding Méristem with fellow musicians in the late 1980s. The band released a 4-Track recording and toured in Finland and Estonia. Another significant project was co-founding Deiseal in 1983, which led to two albums with STARC Records, receiving positive reviews and international attention.

Apart from group projects, Breatnach has been involved in various solo and collaborative works. His whistle playing featured in the theme for RTE’s Glenroe TV series and on albums such as “Riverdance” and “A River of Sound”. He also participated in Donal Lunny’s “Sult” and the TV series “Bringing it all back home”. One of his notable works is the Concept CD “Éalú,” launched in March 2012. The album features a mix of Irish, Basque, and Castilian influences and includes new compositions and songs. It also features an introductory animation and a spoken introduction available on his website.

A recent project combines film, live music, and imagery to explore and respond to a traumatic event from his youth – the wrongful arrest and conviction of his brother, Osgur Breatnach, in the Sallins Mail Train Robbery in 1976. This deeply personal project reflects on the impact of this miscarriage of justice on Breatnach’s life and aims to use the power of storytelling and music to encourage healing and awareness about such injustices.

More information

Cormac Breathnach website

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