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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
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 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 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
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 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 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
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 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
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
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, 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 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, 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, 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
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 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
In 1960 Matt moved back to New York. In 1980 he was All-Ireland
champion on the Ulillean pipes.
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 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 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
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 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, 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
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 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
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 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 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 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 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 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 (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
He is featured with fiddler Liz Carroll on a Rounder record,
"Irish Traditional Music in Chicago."
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
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, 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 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 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 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, 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 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 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, 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 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
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