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The Best Of Irish Music, Dance and Entertainment

The Egan Family

The Egan family includes Siobhan, 16, Seamus, 14, Roryann, 12, and Shiela, 11. Born in the United States, they moved at an early age to Co. Mayo in the west of Ireland where they learned traditional music. They have won numerous North American and All-Ireland titles. Between them they have approximately 15 solo, duet, and trio awards. Seamus at the young age of ten won the gold medal in the senior flute competition at the Oireachtas in Dublin – the youngest competitor ever to win this prestigious event.

The Egan Family ahs performed widely in the Philadelphia area and have just completed an appearance in the Villanova Summer Theatre’s production of "The Playboy of the Western World" in June. Seamus has been recorded on several tracks of a soon-to-be-released record produced by Mick Moloney.

Jerry O’Sullivan

Jerry O’Sullivan was born in New York and has been playing the uillean pipes since 1975. He describes his style as being most strongly influenced by Johnny Doran whose music is known for its liveliness and inventive variation. Jerry won and All-Ireland title in 1979 for piping and also at the Oireachtas for Duets. He is currently playing with a number of people including Joe Burke (accordionist), Jimmy Crowley, Seamus Connolly from Boston, as well as other Irish musicians in New York.

Andy McGann

Andy McGann began playing the fiddle at age 7. His first teacher, Katherine Brennan, taught him the elements of classical violin technique as well as the Sligo style of traditional Irish fiddling. Later, Andy perfected his style by playing with Paddy Kiloran and Michael Coleman, both of whom were great exponents of the Sligo style.

In the late 1950’s, Andy joined the New York Ceili Band, which featured such great musicians as Felix Dolan, Steve Quinn, Paddy Reynolds, Jack Coen, and Laddy Radican. Andy also played with fiddler Paddy Reynolds for many years in and around New York City. Andy has been recorded on several albums, including a solo album as well as one which features himself and Paddy.

Skip McKinley

Skip McKinley was born in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1951. His first instrument was the saxophone, which he played for ten years. Skip then picked up the tin whistle and soon after, the flute. Around this time, Skip met fiddler Seamus Connolly with whom he has been playing music for several years. He sites Boston flutist Jimmy Hogan as a major influence as well as Matt Molloy.

In the relatively short time that Skip has been playing the fiddle, his achievements have been remarkable. He qualified in the U.S. for the All-Ireland competition in 1980. He also plays old-timey music in the Canterbury String Orchestra.

Mick Moloney

Mick Moloney was born in Limerick in 1944. He began playing the tenor banjo at the age of 16. He spent five years touring Europe with a group known as the "Johnstones".

Mick came to the U.S. in 1973 to begin doctoral work in folklore and folk life at the University of Pennsylvania. He is recognized as an authority on traditional Irish music in America, and is a well known performer and collector, as well as a producer of concerts and records.

Mick has been recorded on the Green Linnet and Transatlantic labels.

John Vesey

John Vesey is known in traditional Irish music circles as one of the finest living exponents of the Sligo style of fiddling. He came to Philadelphia in 1949 and ahs carried on the great Sligo tradition popularized by musicians such as Michael Coleman, Paddy Killoran, James Morrison, and Paddy Sweeney.

John has been recorded on the Shanachie label.

Matt Molloy

Matt Molloy was born in Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon, an area known for many fine flute players. Matt began playing the flute at an early age, learning to play from his father, James, himself a fine musician.

Matt has been a member of several important Irish groups, i.e. Planxty, the Bothy Band, and currently, the Chieftains. He ahs been recorded on numerous recordings including two solo albums, an album with Paul Brady and Tommy Peoples, and in the near future will be recording an album with Sean Keane, also with the Chieftains.

Maire Ni Chathasaigh

Maire Ni Chathasaigh/Miriam Casey was born in Bandon, Co. Cork into a family of musicians and singers who introduced her to traditional and classical music at an early age. She acquired her first harp at the age of twelve having already gained proficiency on the piano, violin, and tin whistle.

She has been recorded as an accompanist on several recordings as a member of a group, on a record (as yet unreleased) for Claddagh Records.

Eugene O’Donnell

Eugene O’Donnell, well known not only for his fiddle playing but also as a champion step-dancer, was born in Derry City, Co. Derry. He was named All-Ireland step-dancing champion for five consecutive years – an unprecedented feat.

Eugene’s unique fiddling style results from exposure to Ulater fiddling styles coupled with formal, classical music training. With his background in dancing, he is extremely sensitive to the needs of dancers and is well known for his exquisite playing of intricate set pieces.

Eugene has been recorded on the Green Linnet and Leprechaun labels, and by the Smithsonian Institution.

Rosalyn Briley

Rosalyn Briley, born in Dallas, Texas, began the study of pedal harp in 1971 under Dorothy Knauss, as student of Alfred Holy. She has since developed a well established career as a solo harpist. In 1981, Rosalyn won first place in the harp competition at the Fleadh Cheoil, the annual competition acknowledging outstanding Irish musicians held in NYC. In addition, Tosalyn holds harp classes for the Ceili Group at the Irish Center.

Rosalyn has relatives in County Sligo, Ireland.

Tim Britton

Tim Britton was born in Philadelphia in 1960. He grew up in a very musical environment-his sisters are musicians and singers and his father, George, is a well known folk singer.

Tim began playing the tin whistle at the age of 12 and soon after acquired a set of practice pipes. He learned from Philadelphia piper Tom Standeven and from records. In 1976 he attended the Willy Clancy School in Co. Clare. He has been featured on several recordings and plays at various festivals around the country. Tim also makes and teaches pipes.

Kevin Burke

Kevin Burke, born and raised in London, picked up his first fiddle at the age of eight. In his teens, he discovered Irish music, learning much of his style during his family vacations in Sligo, an area whose fiddlers are known for their sophisticated use of ornamentation.

Kevin became a member of the Bothy Band in the late 70’s where his elegant and witty style was a cornerstone of the pioneering group's legendary sound. When the group disbanded, he and Bothy Band founder Micheal O’Domhnaill performed as a duo and they recorded two albums. In addition, he is recorded with Christy Moore, former Planxty member, the Bothy Band, Jackie Daly, and Andy Inine and Paul Brady. Kevin also has two solo recordings.

Jack Coen

Jack Coen, the older brother of Fr. Charlie, learned to play the flute under the influence of such flutists as Eddie Moloney and Jack Coughlan from Galway as well as his father. He moved to NYC in 1949, where he currently resides with his wife and children.

Jack was a member of the New York City Ceili Band in the late ‘50’s and ‘60’s. In 1960, Jack took first place in the All-Ireland Trio competitions with himself on the flute, Paddy O’Brien on the button accordion and Larry Redican on the fiddle. Jack also participated in the 1976Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of American Folklife as well as the 1978 Endowment for the Arts’ Irish traditional music tour.

Matt Connolly

Matt Connolly was born in New York in 1940, and moved with his family six years later to Scottstown, Co. Monaghan.

Matt ahs played the pipes since the age of 13. He learned from the Fermanagh piper Shawn McAloone and his own mother, Helena. He says he has been musically influenced by Leo Rowesome, Liam Flynn, Paddy Moloney and Willie Clancy. He calls his won style "LeoRowesome’s style".

In 1960 Matt moved back to New York. In 1980 he was All-Ireland champion on the Ulillean pipes.

Eddie Cahill

Eddie Cahill, known for his duets with John Versey, was born in Curry, Co. Sligo, in 1929. His father played the flute and his mother had a keen ear for music.

Two of his neighbors, Tom Healy and Pat Waters, gave Eddie instruction on the tin whistle. He later learned the flute and played with local musicians.

Eddie came to the U.S. in 1950 and settled in Philadelphia. He played at bars, clubs, weddings, and on the radio.
Eddie has been recorded on the Shanachie label.

Eileen Clohessy

Eileen Clohessy was born in New York and began playing the tin whistle and piano accordion at age 10 taking lessons from Maureen Glynn Cronin. Eileen holds many awards including the 1977 All-Ireland Championship on the tin whistle in her age group. That year she also placed second in slow airs on the whistle and third on piano accordion.

Eileen has been greatly influenced in her playing of airs by the great Galway sean nos singer, Joe Heaney. She has collaborated with him playing the air while Joe sings. This collaboration has been recorded on video.

Eileen is also an accomplished step-dancer, a former student of Don Golden. She has won many championships including the 1979 North American Championship.

Father Charlie Coen

Father Charlie Coen was born in Woodford, Co. Galway and learned Irish music from such players as Tommy Gaffney and the Conway Brothers and his father, a concertina player. At the age of 21 he emigrated to the U.S. and worked for several years before he entered the priesthood.

Fr. Charlie won three All-Ireland Senior Championships in 1976 on tin whistle, flute, and concertina. That year he also participated in the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife and, in 1978, was a member of a nationwide tour presenting Irish music and dance produced by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Currently based in a parish on Staten Island, Fr. Charlie holds classes in Irish music and sean nos singing for children.

Seamus Connolly

Seamus Connolly was born in Kilaloe, Co. Clare. He taught himself to play the fiddle, having been introduced to it all the age of twelve by his uncle. He learned to play from recordings of Michael Coleman, James Morrison, and Paddy Killoran. Seamus cites Clare musicians Willie Clancy and Bobby Casey as important influences.

Seamus has won 10 All-Ireland championships: 3 in the senior division and 7 in the junior. He won his first tile at the age of 13. He has also won the Fiddler of Dooney competition. Seamus toured the U.S. in 1972 with Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. He then emigrated here in 1974. Seamus now teaches the fiddle in the Boston area and one of his students, Shiela Falls, won the All-Ireland fiddle championship in 1983.

John Cunningham

John Cunningham is a Scottish fiddler who was brought up with, and influenced by, both Scottish and Irish music. He has been playing since the age of seven.

John was a founding member of the group "Silly Wizard", with whom he recorded three albums. He has been recorded on several recordings, including two solo albums, "Thoughts form Another World" and "Fair Warning".

John has performed at most festivals of note throughout Britain, Europe, the U.S. and Canada, and ahs recorded, arranged, and performed his music for film, radio, television, and theatre.

The Emerald Pipe Band

The Emerald Pipe Band, in existence since the early 1970’s, carries on the tradition of the Irish Pipe Bands in Philadelphia. The band was started by Peter Kelly, the late pepe major of the Clan Na Gael Pipe Band. The members are dedicated to preserving the traditions of the "Irish War Pipes", which almost disappeared in Ireland as a result of the Penal Laws which forbade the playing of this instrument.

The band, under the direction of Pipe Major Philip Walsh Townsend, has expanded its repertoire to include traditional Irish marches, jigs, reels, airs, and hornpipe.

Bridget Fitzgerald

Bridget Fitzgerald, sean nos singer, was born in Inverin, Co. Galway, in 1947. A native Irish speaker, she first learned to sing from her mother, Ann Coyne, and her uncle, Johnny Coyne. She later learned many songs from recordings of Joe Heaney and Sean AcDonnacha. Bridget also cited Dolores Keane as an important influence.

Bridget emigrated to the U.S. in 1964 and now lives in Boston. In 1981 Bridget placed first in the Fleadh Cheoil in New York in English sean nos style singing and second in Irish sean nos singing. She can be heard on the album "We’re Irish Still" produced by Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann.

Kathleen Guilday

Kathleen Guilday decided to learn to play the harp at the age of 24. She lived in Dublin in 1978-79 where she studied with harpist Noreen O’Donoghue. In 1981 she won a silver medal in the senior All-Ireland harp competition at the Fleadh Cheoil in Listowel.

For the past four years Kathleen has performed in the Boston area with the group Blackbird. She has also made several radio and television appearances. Kathleen attributes her playing style on the influence of Maire Ni Chathasaigh.

Gerry O’Beirne

Gerry O’Beirne plays guitar, is a songwriter and singer. In his 10 years as a professional musician, he ahs performed with tradidional Irish artist such as Kevin Burke, Joe Burke, Donal Lunny, Dolores Keane, and John Faulkner. He also toured with Andy Irvine in 1980 and 1982.

Gerry was born in Ennis, Co. Clare. In his early years he moved from there to Ghana, back to Dublin, and then to London in his teens where he fist became interested in traditional Irish music. Gerry now lives in Los Angeles.

In addition to performing. Gerry has produced albums, including Kevin Burke’s  released solo album.

Robbie O’Connell

Robbie O’Connell was born in Waterford in 1950. He took up the guitar at age thirteen, and most of the songs he learned were American folk songs. After coming to the U.S. in 1972 he realized that his musical identity lay in his past. Robbie is a nephew of the legendary Clancy Brothers and spent his childhood surrounded by many of the treat Irish singers and Musicians who emerged in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s.

In Ireland, In 1979, he formed a band called "The bread and Beer Band". Upon returning to the states he worked full time as a musician, both as a solo act, and touring as a full-fledged member of the Clancy Brothers.

Robbie has been recorded on the Green Linnet label.

The Irish Tradition

The Irish Tradition was formed in Washington, D.C., in 1975 and is largely responsible for the introduction of genuine traditional Irish music to that area.

Billy McComiskey is an outstanding accordion player who picked up many tips from Sean McGlynn. He and Brendan Mulvihill won first place in the All-Ireland duet championship in 1978.

Brendan is one of the most accomplished and exciting fiddlers today. He learned from his father Martin.

Andy O’Brien, who was born in Co. Kerry, emigrated to the U.S. in 1974. He has a vast repertoire of songs learned in Ireland and America. His solid guitar playing adds drive and intensity to the group sound.

The Irish Tradition records on the Green Linnet label.

Andy Irvine

Andy Irvine is best known as a founding member of Planxty, a popular and influential Irish folk group. Born in London to Irish parents, Andy studied acting and classical guitar as a teenager. At 19 he moved to Dublin where he was introduced to traditional Irish music. Andy spent a few years playing with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, among others. In the mid-sixties, he formed Sweeney’s Men with Joe Dolan and Johnny Moynihan. Nowadays, Andy records regularity (both solo and with Planxty) and spends much of his time on the road.

An extraordinary singer-songwriter-musician, Andy plays the mandolin, guitar, harmonica, hurdy gurdy, and bouzouki.

Brenda Sweeney

Brenda Sweeney has been interested in music from an early age. She first started on the tin whistle and took part in various fleadhs, feis, etc. She has a large collection of medals and trophies. Brenda represented Connaught in the flute and tin whistle competition for a number of years and in 1982 she was the All-Ireland winner on the flute at the Fleadh Cheoil in Listowel. Brenda also plays the fiddle. Brenda currently lives in County Sligo.

Gerald Trimble

Gerald Trimble was born and raised in Kansas City. His musical background is diverse, including jazz, country, and rock. His childhood exposure to Scots bagpipe music ultimately shaped his musical direction. Gerald plays the cittern, a relatively new instrument complementing instruments such as the fiddle or pipes. His feelings for Celtic music is in part due to the great amount of time he has spent overseas listening to and playing and local musicians.

Festivalgoers may know Gerald from his radio shop "Ballads, Bards, and Bagpipes" on WHYY which featured the music of Ireland and Great Britain.

Jimmy Keane

Jimmy Keane (piano accordion) was born in London in 1958 of Irish parents. He moved with the rest of the family to Chicago in 1960, Irish culture played a prominent part in his life from the very beginning. His father, James, who is a great sean nos singer from Connemara, Co. Galway, actively encouraged Jimmy to take up traditional music. At the age of fourteen he started on the piano accordion. By the time he was sixteen, he made such great progress that he qualified for the Fleadh Cheoil in Ireland (1979), which he won. He subsequently returned and won four more All-Ireland titles in consecutive years.

Jimmy has toured extensively in the United States and London, including the Bicentennial Festival of American Folklife (1976), the World’s Fair in Tennessee, and numerous fold festivals in the Midwest.

He is featured with fiddler Liz Carroll on a Rounder record, "Irish Traditional Music in Chicago."

John Kelly

John Kelly began playing the fiddle at the age of eight. He was born in Co. Sligo in 1906 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1928. When he first came to the states John was active with several bands in the Philadelphia area, but then he stopped playing for a number of years. John became active again after his retirement and is now the senior musician for the Philadelphia Ceili Group’s weekly ceilis and various performances. His playing is lively and well-suited for dancers.

John placed first in the senior fiddle competition, slow airs, at the New York Fleadh Cheoil in 1979. He performs regularly at clubs and ceilis in the Philadelphia area, and also teaches fiddle.

Mickey Kelly

Mickey Kelly is from Ballinascreen, Co. Derry. He moved to NYC in 1972 where he became involved with the Irish Arts. Mickey is an excellent storyteller, having first been introduced to this art at the age of 9 in an Irish language class. The stories he tells today include some recently collected from northern Irish counties as well as older folktales form all over Ireland.

A traditional singer, Mickey sings in both English and Irish. He also plays the mandolin.

Dan Flynn

Dan Flynn, of Philadelphia, has been playing the accordion since the age of 6. An accomplished showman as well as studio musician, Dan has been a member of a local Irish band, Claddagh Folk. Dan is no stranger to Ceili Group events, having provided music for ceilis, performances and the Festival’s dance area for several years.

Kevin McGillian

Kevin McGillian began playing the button accordion at the age of 12 in Legfor Drum, near Strabane, Co. Tyrone. He is self-taught, and says that he was influenced by two accordion players of that area, Edward McNamee and Robert Finley. He came to Philadelphia in 1954. He plays for ceilis and in pubs in the Philadelphia area, and also plays for local Feisanna.

Joan Madden

Joan Madden was born in 1965 in New York and began playing the tin whistle at 13. She received her first flute from Sean McGlynn when she was 14. Joan was taught by Jack Coen and is a six-time North American champion on the tin whistle and flute. She was also runner-up in 1981 and 1982 on the tin whistle at the All-Ireland competition.

In 1983, she won the All-Ireland gold medal on the tin whistle and flute. Joan won the duet championship with Kathy McGinty and a bronze medal with the Sean McGlynn Ceili Band. She was a member of the Tara Ceili Band. She learned much about music from her father, Joe, a button accordion player from Galway. They frequently play together in New York. Joan in also a member of the Michael Coleman branch of Comhaltas.

Josie McDermott

Josie McDermott has lived in Ballyfarnam, Co. Roscommon all of his life. By the time he reached 5 or 6, Josie had already begun to play the tin whistle. While traditional Irish music is his first love, Josie’s musical horizon is much broader. At 14 he became a singer in a local "modern" band. Since then he has played in various kinds of groups and on various instruments including the trumpet, sax, whistle, fife, and concert flute.

In 1964, Josie won the All-Ireland championship on the tin whistle. In 1967, he became champion liter, and in 1974 he won the flute crown. He has also been runner-up several times in the ballad singing competition.

John McGrory

John McGrory, age 19, was raised in Irish musical surroundings. His grandfather, Jimmy McDade, was a popular banjo player in the Philadelphia area and his mother, Maureen McGrory, a popular Irish dance teacher throughout the Delaware Valley area.

John started his Irish music training at the age of 3, driving everyone crazy with a tin whistle, step-dancing at 5, then on to serious studies with classical piano at the Bryn Mawr Conservatory. For years, John was instructed by Jimmy Early, All World Piano Accordion Player, of New York.

John has been playing piano accordion at the Feisanna in various states and is currently a part of the Tom McCloskey Trio, who toured Ireland for three weeks in August, 1984, ending up in Kilkenny for the Fleadh Cheoil where John could compete in the Piano Accordion Competition.

Charles (Charlie) Meiris

Charles Meiris is currently the secretary of the Ceili Group. He is relatively new to Irish music and fiddling, having started with lessons with John Kelly three years ago. He also plays the man-jo, a cross between a mandolin and banjo. You will often see him at the Friday night ceilis playing for the dancers. Charlie also occasionally performs on stage with the Irish Players, the Ceili Group’s drama wing.

Charlie is a life-long resident of Philadelphia.

John McGrory

John McGrory started playing the button accordion at the age of nine, his first teacher Pat Mahon, from New York. John is now 16. His current teacher is John Whalen, All World Champion on Button Accordion.

John has competed in many competitions over the last six years. In 1979, he won third place in the All-Ireland Solo Button Accordion Competition with his sister, Shiela, on violin. In 1980 John placed second in the All-Ireland Solo competition. He has also won numerous awards in competitions throughout the United States and is a popular player at the Feisanna.

Eileen Golden

Eileen Golden began her dancing career at age seven as a student of Jim Erwin. She has won many step-dancing championships including winning every year she has entered in the North American Irish Dancing Championships. From here she went on to successfully compete in the All-World Irish Dancing Championships in Dublin.

Eileen dances solo and, on occasion, with her brother, Don. More recently she has performed in Asia and Africa on the U.S. State Department tours.

Jim McGrory

Jim McGrory, 16 years old, began his classical music training at the Bryn Mawr Conservatory and Main Line Conservatory and is presently studying under a member of The Philadelphia Orchestra.

He started his Traditional Irish Music sessions at the age of 7 with Sligo player John Vesey,, and is currently under the instruction of John Cunningham.

In May of this year, Jim, on violin, and John McGrory on button accordion, qualified to compete in the Fleadh Cheoil in August, 1984 in the Duet Competition. Jim also qualified to play in the Slow Air Competition in Kilkenny.

Don Golden

Don Golden is a former student of Jim Erwin, and a former North American step-dancing Champion. He is considered to be one of the best step-dancers in America today, and was the first American to place in the All-World Championships in Dublin.

Don is now director of the Erwin School in New York. He is also a certified adjudicator for dance competitions.

The McDade Irish Dancers

The McDade Irish Dancers, under the direction of Mrs. Maureen McGrory, are popular entertainers in exhibitions throughout the Delaware Valley area. They have performed numerously on TV shows and at ethnic events, especially Irish Cultural appearances.

The dancers have traveled throughout the Eastern Seaboard to the Feisanna. At first, it was only during the summer; now they compete all during the year.

Oonagh McGrory and Bridget Fullerton, age 19, have been performing and competing as members of the McDade Irish Dancers since a very early age. They are also accomplished musicians, Oonagh on piano accordion, and Bridget on piano accordion and tin whistle.

Sheila McGrory, age 9, also a member of the McDade troupe, was 5 when she first performed at Fischer’s Pool. Sheila plays the tin whistle and is currently playing classical music on violin.

Philadelphia Ceili Group Dancers

Philadelphia Ceili Group Dancers perform and teach regularly throughout the Philadelphia area. Many of the members have won numerous medals in step-dancing and eight-hand competitions. The Ceili Group Dancers strive to communicate the idea that dancing is enjoyable for the dancer as well as the audience, by presenting traditional ceili dances in a relaxed, spontaneous atmosphere.


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