Who We Are
Kirsten Allstaff - Director
I was introduced to both Classical and Irish music as a child. Unlike Classical, Irish music deeply resonates with me. I love the social and casual aspects of the Irish music tradition and community as much as the music itself.
After graduating with a joint honors degree in history and Celtic studies in 1998, I was determined to spend time honing in on my passion - traditional flute playing. I spent time in Dublin, Donegal, Limerick and West Clare (where I currently reside), attending festivals and sessions all over the country, learning about the different styles and nuances within the tradition.
In 2002, I completed my Masters in Irish Traditional Music Performance at The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of LImerick under the expert tutelage of flute master Niall Keegan.
Since then I have toured with various internationally acclaimed bands and dance shows - Gaelforce Dance, Celtic Legends, Rhythm of the Dance and most recently Clare based band The Fiddle Case. I am also a resident flute and whistle tutor at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at University Limerick.
Three years ago, I began to miss rural life and the ocean, so decided to move to Liscannor Co. Clare, and it was here in 2009 that the concept of OAIM was born. How convenient it would be to both learn and teach from home, without having to drive for an hour to reach the nearest town centre, and to be able to provide the highest level of tuition streamed directly into peoples living rooms and kitchens via the internet.
I envisage OAIM as a global community of Irish music lovers and learners, offering people around the world the chance to access quality, genuine Irish music tuition when and where they desire, at an affordable price.
Born in Birmingham, England to parents from Miltown Malbay, Co Clare, Kevin Crawford’s early life was sound-tracked by the resonance of the lively traditional music scene in the midlands city.
Moving to Co. Clare in 1989, he soon became a pivotal member of the effervescent session trail in the Banner county before enhancing his burgeoning reputation in the group Grianán and the trio Raise the Rafters. He then propelled himself to international recognition with Moving Cloud, with whom he recorded Moving Cloud in 1995 and Foxglove in 1998. Kevin joined Lúnasa in January 1997 for a tour of Australia and has been ever-present in the group since. To date, the instrumental quintet have eight albums to their credit while Kevin has released two solo records, ‘D’ Flute Album (1994) and In Good Company (2001). He joined fellow band member, piper Cillian Vallelly for a critically acclaimed duet album, On Common Ground, in 2009. The innovative flute player has appeared as a guest on several albums, including singer Seán Tyrrell’s Cry of a Dreamer (1994) accordionist Joe Derrane’s The Tie That Binds (1998). and American singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant’s 2010 release, Leave Your Sleep.
A year earlier along with his four fellow members of Lúnasa, he performed on The Leitrim Equation. One of Kevin’s latest side-projects is the formation of a new super-trio, The Teetotallers alongside John Doyle and fiddler Martin Hayes.
Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh
TG4, Gradam Ceoil 2011 winner, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, grew up immersed in the vibrant West-Kerry tradition with its wild dance music, soulful slow airs and many beautiful songs. Her father, a fiddler, would bring her to music sessions from a young age. There she began to play music on the flute and tin-whistle and to sing sean-nós songs, learning from wonderful local singers. She also attended Siamsa Tíre, the National Folk Theatre of Ireland, for several years. She was awarded an M.A. in Traditional Music Performance from the University of Limerick in 2002. She currently tutors both flute and singing in the University.
Muireann toured and performed with various musicians and groups before joining the group Danú in 2003. In 2004 Danú won the BBC 2 Folk Award for "Best Group". At the same awards, the song "The County Down" by Tommy Sands that Danú had recently recorded, won "Best Song". Muireann herself won "Best Singer" at the liveireland.com Awards in 2005. She has toured the world with her music visiting countries as far flung as India, Bulgaria and Jordan and performed for such dignitaries as An tUachtarán Mary McAleese, An Taoiseach, The President of Bulgaria and the EU Assembly. She continues to tour regularly with Danú whose new album "Seanchas" was released in April 2010.
Now a regular contributor to television and radio programmes at home and abroad, she featured prominently in the"Highland Sessions" BBC television series, celebrating the best of Irish and Scottish traditional music and song. She also co-hosted and performed at the 2007 and 2009 Gradaim Cheoil TG4 and has presented many music programmes. Muireann is extremely sought after both as a vocalist and flute player and has collaborated with many musicians at home and abroad such as Julie Fowlis, Darrell Scott, Liam Clancy and The Bulgarian Womenֳ Choir. She released her solo album 'Daybreak: 'Fáinne an Lae' in 2006 to great acclaim. In 2008 she recorded "Dual", a collaborative project with Julie Fowlis, Éamon Doorley and Ross Martin exploring the links between Irish and Scots Gaelic music and song. Muireann also gives workshops regularly at home and abroad and has been an adjudicator the past three years for the Gael-Linn "Siansa" competition for young Traditional Irish bands
Derek Hickey hails from Adare, Co. Limerick. He started playing accordion at a young age. By the age of 18 he joined the band Arcady and then at 21 was invited by Frankie Gavin to join De Dannan. He recorded two albums with the band during the time he spent with them. Derek Hickey is a regular tutor at The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University Limerick. In his rich and varied performing experiences, he has shared the stage with some of worlds greatest talents including Stephan Grappelli and The Rolling Stones.
Edel Fox is a concertina player from Miltown Malbay Co. Clare. She began playing at the age of 7 and was fortunate to be brought up in an area and environment where traditional music was in abundance. Edel learnt much of her music from concertina players Noel Hill, Dymphna O’Sullivan, Tim Collins and Tony O’Connell as well as local musicians such as Pete Haugh, Michael Mahoney and Peadar Crotty. Over the years, Edel’s playing has been hugely influenced by the music and recordings of Willie Clancy, Bobby Casey, Junior Crehan and Mrs. Crotty, to name but a few. Edel spent much of her teenage years playing with, and learning from Jackie Daly, who she cites as one of her influences. In 2004, Edel was awarded the TG4 Gradam Ceoltóir Óg na Bliana (Young Musician of the Year). Since then she has travelled extensively as both a teacher and performer of the tradition. She released an album to critical acclaim with Ronan O’Flaherty in 2006. Edel spent some time studying in the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick where she received a BA in Irish Music and Dance in 2007. Edel is a recent graduate of the MA in Music Therapy. In addition to her work as a music therapist, Edel continues to teach concertina and perform extensively in the South-East of Ireland, where she now lives. Edel released her extremely popular debut solo album "Chords and Beryls" in 2010.
Tola Custy comes from Toonagh in County Clare. His father, Frank was the local primary school teacher and also inspired many people to play traditional music. Names such as James Cullinane, Siobhan Peoples Sharon Shannon, as well as Tola himself all owe their musical beginnings to him. Thus music has been a friend to Tola since he was able to walk.
Tola first cut his teeth by making the album “ Setting Free” with bouzouki player Cyril O'Donoghue in 1993. He then teamed up with the Moynihan Family from County Cork and , along with bouzouki player Pat Marsh, formed the group “Calico”. Next came a live recording with “ The Bowhouse Quintet”. A musical partnership with Piano accordion player Mirella Murray soon formed and the album “ Three Sunsets” was made. Later Tola made various musical collaborations with Piano accordionist Alan kelly and his brother John. Many albums and concerts followed. Lately he has been working and touring with the group “Guidewires” taking his musical influences to Greece, Macedonia and Bulgaria. He has ,on occasions , had the opportunity to share stages with people such as Heidi Talbot, Donogh Hennessy, the group Gráda, Arty McGlynn, Blazing Bows and Edi Reader.
Tola has also been a Primary teacher for many years and enjoys the process of sharing and developing the process of music in both children and adults. For him music should be personal, practical and malleable!
Jim hails from Renmore in Galway. Born into a musical family, he went on to study music in University College Cork under Micheal O Suilleabhain amongst others. While in Cork, Jim caught ‘the bodhran bug’, playing alongside players such as Mel Mercier, Colm Murphy and Frank Torpey. During this period Jim was an active member of ‘The Stunning’ rock band playing trumpet and keyboards as well as percussion. He went on to play drums with fellow Galwegians ‘The Sawdoctors’ following a four year stint with ‘The Riverdance Show’ which took him around the world.
He is an honorary member of the Donegal based traditional group ‘Altan’ having recorded and toured extensively with them for the last fifteen years from the Hollywood Bowl to the Sydney Opera House. He has recorded and performed with such luminaries as Paul Brady, Christy Moore, Liam O’Flynn, Donal Lunny, Bill Whelan, Martin O’Connor and Lunasa. Jim also specializes in ethnic percussion encompassing the djembe, the darabukkas, the dumbeq and the mbira.
Bringing a sweet, soulful yet energetic air to her music, Steph is a vibrant and versatile musician who officially debuted on the scene in 2009 with the release of her critically acclaimed album, The Open Road. Described by Irish Music Magazine as “one of the most promising young flute players around” and “an unexpected treasure”, The Open Road was also named as one of Folk Worlds ‘top ten trad albums of 2009’. Taking inspiration from the Irish greats, such as Matt Molloy, she has also delved deep into other world music traditions giving her music a fresh perspective with depth and maturity.
Steph performs and tours regularly as part of the Alan Kelly Gang. Over the last number of years, she has had the opportunity to perform and teach at top festivals across the globe and has also performed and toured with icons such as The Chieftains, Eddi Reader and Johnny ‘Ringo’ McDonagh. Though being a long-time Irish resident, Steph hails originally from New York where she first began playing traditional music. It was there she studied World Music, working with legends such as experimental jazz hero, Anthony Braxton. She later traveled to India to study the Bonsuri under PT Ginde, disciple of the legendary Panal al Gosh and then moved to County Sligo. Taken under the wing of several of the noted players from that area, she spent many years surrounded by great traditional stalwarts, such as Peter Horan, with whom she played with regularly for many years. She has collaborated with prestigious theatre companies from Edinburgh to Galway to the US including Galway’s An Taibhearc and the New York based, award winning & avant-garde, Mabou Mines, in their production of Peter and Wendy, on the original score composed by the late Scottish fiddle player, Johnny Cunningham. She is currently based in Galway where she regularly teaches private lessons and master classes.
Mirella Murray currently plays with 'Cherish the Ladies'. She grew up in Claddaghduff, near Clifden, on the north west coast of Connemara. Her father John Joe, a notable sean nós dancer, comes from Inishark Island and has a deep understanding of, and love for, traditional music. Mirella learnt the piano accordion from Mary Finn, herself a great player from the musical Finn family of Ballymote, Co. Sligo. She met up with fiddler Liz Kane from Letterfrack, and they played and learned a lot of their music together going through the Fleadh Cheoil competitions. They won the All-Ireland duet in 1995, while Mirella gained the title on the piano accordion that same year. The pair performed together for years and toured in France and in North America with Comhaltas. They formed the Hydledoodles, a short-lived band which featured at the Fiddle and Accordion festival in Shetland and returned to the Folk Festival there the following year.
Later Mirella teamed up with the great fiddle player Tola Custy from Co. Clare, since the pair have played all over Ireland and Europe on various tours and festivals. After many year of being coaxed by people they went on to make an album "Three Sunsets" which has received many rave review and was voted top five albums of 2002 by The Irish Times, they were one of the nominee's as 'Best Newcomers' by the Irish Music Magazine in 2003.
Mirella has also toured Austria with the Bumblebees; performed with harper Laoise Kelly at the International Women's Day Festival in Moscow; featured in the Galway Arts Festival 2001,2002 and 2003 with Laoise and young fiddler Michelle O'Brien; toured with various line-ups in Scandinavia, Switzerland, Spain and France; and also recorded with Laoise on the Geantraí Christmas Special 2001, TG4. From September to November 2002 Mirella joined up with the late Johnny Cunningham to perform in the theatrical production, "Peter & Wendy", winner of two OBIE Awards which Johnny composed the music and lyrics for this adaptation of J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan".
Mirella also has a flair for teaching, and it is a credit to her musicianship that two of her pupils have gained All-Ireland titles. She has accumulated a vast store of tunes from her travels, and musicians such as Sharon Shannon, Lunasa and the Bumblebees credit her as a source for many uncommon melodies.
Niall Keegan was born in the south east of England and began playing Irish traditional flute at an early age amongst the community of first and second generation musicians in and around London. In 1990 Niall began studying under Dr. Mícheál Ó’ Súilleabháin for a Masters degree which he completed in 1992 with the submission of a thesis entitled The Words of Traditional Flute Style. He is course director of the new Traditional Irish Music performance masters at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick and also teaches on the ethno-musicology program there. He has given occasional lectures and taught instrumental classes at the Music Dept. of University College, Cork and University College, Galway, Sibelius Academy, Dublin Institute of Technology, Newcastle University, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama among others. Since moving to Ireland, Niall has performed extensively throughout the country and abroad in a variety of contexts and venues, including the Royal Albert Hall, Barbican, Project Arts Centre in Dublin, the University of Limerick Concert Hall, The National Concert Hall in Dublin, The Waterfront Hall in Belfast and the Galway Arts Centre. In 1992 he was invited to record at the Traditional Music Archive in Dublin with the bodhran player / percussionist Mel Mercier. Niall has performed Mícheál Ó’ Súilleabháin’s concerto for flute and chamber orchestra, Oilean on several occasions in Ireland and Britain and as part of the jazz/trad fusion group Hiberno Jazz. He is featured on both the recording of the 1994 Eigse na Laoi, Across the Water and the television series A River of Sound made by Hummingbird Productions. Niall also features on the Realworld CD The Gathering. Niallֳ solo recording, Donִ Touch the Elk, was released in June 1999 on his own independent label.
Niall is currently director of the BA Irish Traditional Music and Dance Studies at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick. He recently finished his PhD entitled The Art of Juncture: The Creative Transformations of Traditional Irish Music which examines cognitive structures that traditional musicians use to organise their oral music in a literate world. He is currently on the committee of the Folk Music Society of Ireland and director of the University of Limerick based projects Nomad (aimed at honouring the music cultures of the traveling peoples at the University), Niall was formerly co-director of the Sionna Festival of European Traditional Music, and the Blas International Summer School of Traditional Irish Music and Dance, a university accredited programme. He is currently guest director of the Adult Folkworks sumerschool in Durham, England. He is the author of articles concerning issues of style and literacy in traditional Irish music.
TG4 Young Musician of the Year 2010 Aidan O'Donnell has been described as one of the finest young Irish musicians at present. He began his music making at the age of 12, and since then has performed with some of traditional music's finest artists, including Donal Lunny, Micheal Ó' Suilleabháin and the Chieftains. In 2007, he won the prestigious ‘Oireachtas na Geailge' fiddle title, and has been a regular tutor at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, at the University of Limerick for the past number of years.
He released his critically acclaimed debut album in 2006, with Mayo flute player Kieran Munnelly, called ‘In Safe Hands', which has been described as ‘a salute to the players who have gone before' (Matt Molloy, The Chieftains). In 2008, he released his second album 'Fidil' with fiddle player Ciarán Ó Maonaigh which was the genesis of the group 'Fidil'. Fidil released their debut album '3' in November 2009 which has received worldwide critical acclaim, including a 5star review in and CD Choice of the Week in the Irish Times. Their second album, ‘The Old Wheel of Fortune’ was released in November 2011 and again received CD choice in the Irish Times, as well as a 5 star review and a ‘Top of the world’ award in ‘Songlines’ Magazine.
“Aidan's incredible technical ability combined with his deep love of the music of his ancestors will see him become one of the most influential Donegal fiddle players of this generation." (Siobhán Peoples)
Cillian curently plays with Irish band, 'The Outside Track'. Born In Hamburg Germany, to a German mother and an Irish father, Cillian O’Dálaigh has been surrounded by Irish music from day one. Cillian’s father played with Irish band, Cromlach and Cillian learned from him – and learned well. The family moved to Ireland when Cillian was 8 years of age and Irish music quickly became a major part of their family life when they formed the family band, Trazz, including all the O’Dálaigh brothers, one sister and their father. Performing on stage with Trazz since he was fourteen, Cillian has toured extensively in Ireland, Germany, France and the UK as both a guitarist and flute player. Cillian has recently graduated with a BA in Irish Music and Dance from the University of Limerick.
Lisa is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and composer from Co. Mayo. At five years of age Lisa began learning tenor banjo and at ten she starting on the harp, attending classes with Bernie and Holly Geraghty, meanwhile completing her academic grades on the piano too. Heavily involved with CCÉ Ballindine, Lisa won 7 All-Ireland Fleadh Ceoil titles throughout her competing years, including the Senior Harp title in 2008. Now a teacher herself, 9 of Lisa’s own students have gone on to win All-Ireland medals. After graduating with a first class honours degree in Irish Music and Dance at University of Limerick in 2010, Lisa went on to achieve a first class honours Masters degree in Ethnomusicology at University College Cork. Her MA Thesis “Contemporary Tune Composition in Irish Traditional Music” looked at the practice of composition within the traditional music community from the 1960’s onwards, accompanied by a portfolio of Lisa’s own compositions; transcribed, recorded, performed, and analysed. Retaining a love for academia, Lisa plans to return to university in the future to pursue a PhD.
At the moment, Lisa’s time is spent between touring internationally and the West of Ireland, where she continues to teach and perform. She has toured the States and Canada extensively over the last five years with Celtic Crossroads as lead vocalist, harpist, and banjo player, appearing on their latest PBS special DVD and CD. Lisa has also toured Ireland, the UK, Germany, France, and Russia with groups or shows including Celtic Spree, Irish Legends, Rhythms of Ireland, Fuaim Chonamara, and Fuinnimh, and has performed live in front of over 50,000 people at the Interceltique Festival in Lorient for two consecutive years.
In the summer of 2012, Lisa went to ASCAP’s songwriting retreat in France. She was invited by Miles Copeland (former manager of The Police) after he saw her perform in the States. During her time in France Lisa worked with some of the biggest artists, songwriters, and producers in the business including Priscilla Renea (Rihanna, Madonna, Selena Gomez, Cheryl Cole), Jodi Marr (Mika, Paloma Faith, Ricky Martin), Hillary Lindsey (Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw), Julian Emery (McFly, Lissie), and Claudia Brant (Barbara Streisand, Josh Groban, Michael Bublé) to name but a few.
Lisa is currently working on her debut solo album, travelling to co-writing sessions in Miami, New York, and L.A., as well as writing here on Irish soil. She will begin recording in Miami June 2013. Having interest in a wide range of musical genres, Lisa’s musical inspirations include Catriona McKay, Michael Rooney, Gerry O’Connor, Sean O’Riada, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Elizabeth Cronin, Sinead O’Connor, Enya, Sam Lee, Kate Bush, Laura Mvula, Laura Marling and Bat for Lashes.
Ernestine hails from County Mayo. A qualified secondary school teacher, she has also worked as a lecturer in the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, in the University of Limerick. Having occupied the position of Acting Course Director on the Graduate Diploma in Music Education postgrad programme during 2008/09, she then went onto lecture on the BA in Irish Music and Dance undergraduate programme in 2009. Ernestine has also worked as a tutor in the Music Department in University College Cork. Ernestine is an internationally recognized concertina player, as well as a tutor and producer on the Irish musical scene. She has been engaged for events such as the Milwaukee Irish Music Festivalլ workshops in France, Scoil Eigse as part of the All Ireland Fleadh, Eigse Mrs.Crotty in Kilrush, Co Clare, Corofin Traditional Festival, as well as numerous other festivals & workshops around Ireland, Europe & America. Ernestine is a regular performer on both local and national radio, and has made numerous TV appearances including The Fleadh Programme & The Reel Deal (2009 Broadcast). Working as the Director of the Meitheal Residential Summer School since its inauguration in 2004, she was appointed the Director of Blas International Summer School for Traditional Music and Dance in January 2010. In addition to being an engaging performer and teacher, Ernestine's portfolio also extends to research on Irish traditional music, Composition & Music Education for which she was duly awarded a First class Masters degree from the University of Limerick in 2008. She is also a well-known composer of traditional Irish music in Ireland, with compositions featuring on numerous albums. After completing her Masters in 2008, she scored her first suite The Meitheal Suite which was performed by a 100 strong ensemble of Traditional Musicians as part of the Meitheal Summer school week subsequently followed by a performance in the National Concert Hall in Dublin. Ernestine is currently working on a new suite for traditional music with string, brass & percussion ensembles.
Mikie Smyth began playing the pipes at the age of nine. His first teachers were Colm De Brun and Andy Conroy in the Pipers Club in Henrietta Street. As a teacher Mikie has worked for many piping organizations and traditional summer schools, including the Willie Clancy and Joe Mooney summer schools. He is currently the pipes tutor at the IWAMD in the University of Limerick where he teaches on both the BA and MA˰programmes. Mikie has performed both as a soloist and with shows (Riverdance and Ragus) in over 5 countries. Mikie has recorded a solo album The Wild Keys֊and has also recorded with Donalˌ Lunny, Maurice Lennon, and Sean Keane to mention a few.
All Ireland champion flute player, Majella Bartley, hails from Corcaghan in Co. Monaghan. She is a respected flute and fiddle teacher, tutoring at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance as well as at national and international summer schools and workshops such as Scoil Eigse, Fiddle Festival of Wales, Kilkenny Celtic Festival and the British and North American Convention of Comhaltas. She holds the TTCT traditional music teaching diploma awarded by Comhaltas and is now a tutor and lecturer on this course. She is also a qualified adjudicator and has adjudicated many competitions including the all-Ireland fleadh. She has toured with Comhaltas in Britain and Ireland in 1995 and 1997 respectively and has traveled America, Germany, France, Cyprus, Finland and Belgium playing and teaching at various festivals and events. Majella is the musical director and founder of the Munster based youth group Ceoltoiri na Sionainne and is currently the National Registrar for Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. Majella holds a Masters in Irish Traditional Music Performance from the University of Limerick.
From Scotstown in Co. Monaghan, Thomas began learning the uilleann pipes and whistle at an early age. He has enjoyed successes on both instruments at All-Ireland level, and with extensive experience in giving private tuition, teaching workshops and adjudicating, he is a much respected uilleann pipes and whistle tutor. Thomas graduated from the BA Irish Music & Dance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick in 2006, and was subsequently awarded a place on the University's Advanced Scholars Programme. He is currently working on a doctoral thesis entitled The Bloom of Youth which has as its broad subject, the experience of Irish traditional music, by music teachers and students, in the context of the post-primary music curriculum. The focus of this study is the process of transmission of Irish traditional music within the music classroom, the connection between classroom and 'community', and the attitudes, perceptions and specific practices of participants in their approach to this particular musical genre in this educational setting. Thomas' research is supported by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS) and The Teaching Council. With tuition from renowned musicians such as Majella Bartley, Micky Dunne, Mick O'Brien and Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn. Thomas has developed his own unique musical style over the years. A soloist with The National Youth Orchestra of Canada in their performance of Bill Whelanֳ, The Seville Suite, his playing has also featured prominently in major international touring dance productions, including Rhythms of Ireland, as well as on the European and Canadian folk festival circuit with appearances at Celtic Connections (Glasgow), Tonder Festival (Denmark), Haapavesi Folk Festival (Finland) and the Canturbury Folk Festival (Ontario, Canada). Thomas has collaborated with many other musicians and has toured widely with performances in the UK, Australia, Tasmania, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the USA. Most recently in May 2010, he travelled to New York to perform in Carnegie Hall as part of Discovering Abilities, a performance workshop by the Sidney Lanier School Music Ensemble
Billy Mag Fhloinn
Billy Mag Fhloinn was born and raised in a musical family in Limerick City. He began playing traditional music in 1996, beginning on the bodhrán. He then progressed onto the bouzouki, after a chance find of an old Greek model in a music shop in Limerick. He learned much of his playing from musicians Mick Broderick and Tony Davoren when living in Dublin, and gained great experience playing the wild dance music of west Kerry when living on the DIngle Peninsula. He has recorded on several albums as an accompanist, and has shared the stage with a variety of performers, including Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Gerry O'Beirne, Éamon Doorley, Donal Clancy and Ross Martin. When not playing music, he lectures in Irish Studies at University of Limerick and Mary Immaculate College.
Stephen is from Ennis, Co. Clare, a known hotbed of Irish traditional music. As both a melody piano player and accompanist, he completed his academy grades in classical music while being heavily influenced by Irish traditional music and Cape Breton piano accompaniment. Stephen has won All-Ireland titles in piano accompaniment at both u18 and senior level and has considerable experience in private tuition as well as group workshops and Fleadh Cheoil adjudication. Following his graduation from a degree in Law and European Studies, Stephen commenced a Masters in Irish Traditional Music Performance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, which he completed with first class honours and has since returned as a tutor. A former member of traditional bands 'Nuada' and 'A Dog Called Rizla', he now plays with Dublin based indie rock pop band 'The iKonics'. Stephen has collaborated with many other musicians including Holly Geraghty and Jonathon Roche for their debut album 'Ceolmhar' and has toured extensively with performances throughout Europe, Australia and North America. Currently living in Dublin, Stephen's talents range from law and digital marketing to music writing, teaching and performing.
Jon O’Connell is a musician who has been active on the Irish music scene for close to fifteen years. From Miltown Malbay, Co.Clare, Jon is still based in this area, where the traditions of Irish music are strong and music sessions are commonplace.
Jon’s first insrument is Double Bass. After two years learning about Sound Engineering at the University of Wales, Jon attended Newpark School of Music in Dublin, studying contemporary music and theory.
Along with Double Bass, Jon also plays Guitar, Mandola, Mandolin and Banjo and is involved with traditional music groups in Clare, including The Ceili Bandits and The Fiddle Case. Playing and singing with these groups, Jon has performed all over the country, including support slots with Stockton’s Wing and Christy Moore. In the last 18 months, Jon has also been gigging and working with acclaimed Loughrea singer-songwriter Ultan Conlon. As a session musician, Jon has worked on many different projects with different people through the years. He contributed Double Bass to Luka Blooms album Tribe and has recorded and gigged with Dublin singer-songwriter Fiach, to name a couple.
Jon also plays electric bass and sings with Irish band The Walls. In the 8 years since joining, the band have had two top 10 records and played many memorable gigs. Highlights include Electric Picnic, Sea Sessions, supporting Bob Dylan and Crowded House, and touring Eastern Europe, Australia and the USA.
Brian Fleming plays percussion from around the world, specialising in the traditional Irish percussion instruments the bodhrán and bones and West African percussion. He has recorded on some 30 albums, produced 3, played on several soundtracks for film and tv. He has played with many of the best known innovators in Irish music and dance, including Davy Spillane, Emer Mayock (Afro Celts), Anuna, Michael Flatley, Cormac Breathnach, De jimbe and Kila. He has taught bodhrán and percussion in schools, music schools, universities and festivals all over Ireland, including UCD, UCC, TCD and Waltons School of Music and abroad, in the US, Singapore and Cuba. He has also played in every country in Western Europe, and Scandinavia, in Lithuania, Slovakia, the US, Japan, India, Thailand, Senegal, Gambia and at the World Drum Festival, Seoul (2000, 1, 2, 4) and at the Opening Ceremony of the FIFA World Cup 2002 in Korea. He is credited in the Guinness Book of World Records 2001 as one of the designers of the Millennium Drum, the worlds largest drum, built for the millennium Drum Carnival , which he directed.
Mj McMahon was born and raised in East Co. Clare. From an early age he played percussion and bódhran and later in his teenage years, developed an interest for the guitar. In 2001 Mj moved to Limerick where he studied traditional Irish music at University Limerick. Here, he learnt under the tutelage of guitar masters Steve Cooney, Ian Carr, Chris Kelly, amongst many others. Since completing his Masters ten years ago, MJ has toured Europe extensively with the Irish dance shows 'Celtic Legends' , 'Mystical Dance of Ireland' . He also regularly plays in the American production 'Emerald Beat' based in Bush Gardens, Florida. When MJ is at home in Maynooth, he teaches bódhran and guitar and enjoys learning the banjo!
I was born in Drimnagh, Dublin and began playing music at nine years of age. My father played a little bit on the mandolin and, after I asked him if he would teach me how to play, he gave me the few tunes he had. For two years, I messed about with the little banjo-mandolin we had in the house but never approached music seriously. When I turned 11, I wanted to play the guitar so my parents got me a cheap one as a Christmas present. I felt more at home with this instrument as I could play a broader range of music. I had not developed a keen interest in Irish music, though I always did have an affection for ballads from people like Luke Kelly, Ronnie Drew, Christy Moore and The Fureys.
A few years later, a friend of the family, Anto Hogan, (a few years older than myself) visited the house with my cousin Davey "Dolly" Dalton to record some music. Dolly was more of a contemporary singer than a traditional one but he stuck to a mostly Irish repertoire that evening. Anto played the banjo, and this was the first time that I was blown away by the instrument! Another friend, Dessie Farrell, had invited my Da and I to go to a session out in the Comhaltas HQ in Monkstown, some months later. I didn't find it particularly interesting but, nonetheless, didn't hesitate when my Da suggested that we both go to a term of mandolin classes when they recommence. I wasn't doing anything particularly time-consuming during that period and, besides, Da had just bought a new octave mandolin online and it really was some machine!
The teacher was Frank Perry and he played banjo. As time went on, I began to nurture a keen interest in traditional Irish music before, eventually, I wanted a banjo. Having seen many in sessions in Comhaltas, it was Paul Cooper's playing that finally pushed me to asking Da if I could have a banjo. At this stage, I was learning tunes on the mandola and having them off every week for Frank. I got my first banjo aged almost 15 and so, started a journey into traditional Irish music that would see me, for some years, listening to nothing but that and playing for hours and hours every day.
Besides those aforementioned, major influences on my playing style at that time were Kieran Hanrahan and Enda Scahill. As I became more familiar with players in traditional circles, I listened to all types of instruments. Most importantly, perhaps, was the accordion and I developed a bigger interest for this instrument than my chosen one! Although never learning how to play the accordion, I was listening plenty to Tony MacMahon, Finbarr Dwyer, Charlie Harris and Joe Burke. As a consequence, I learned many of their tunes and seemed to sway towards simple melodies or else tunes in very dark, melancholic or difficult keys such as G minor, B flat and F. I took a lot from Kieran Hanrahan when I received four classes from him when he was a stand-in for the regular banjo classes in Monkstown. I started learning how to do all different kinds of techniques and perfect what I was doing. However, after years of this process, I began falling under new influences, namely: Mick "Banjo" O'Connor, Paraic 'ac Dhonncha, Brian Fitzgerald, Mary MacNamara, Paddy Canny, Michael Coleman, John Carty and plenty more. This focused my playing on less ornamentation and more phrasing, ryhthm and melodic variation. As previous fleadh adjudication sheets tell me, this was the staple of my playing. I like to let tunes 'breath' and give them space to weave into new variations naturally. I don't like to fill them with too many frills as I feel this dilutes them and takes away from what I want to gain in playing them. Nowadays, my approach is still this. I listen to a broad range of music too: everything from Pete Seeger and Robert Johnson, through to Rock 'n' Rollers like Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, rock music from the likes of Clapton, Neil Young and The Beatles, to more modern ambient, techno and world music. I also play the flute, whistle, guitar and mandola on a regular basis.
All-Ireland champion accordionist Dáire Mulhern, from Ennis, Co. Clare, is a musician of high calibre who has toured both Europe and America extensively with Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann and other traditional Irish dance shows and bands. He has recently completed his degree in music at Limerick Institute of Technology where he specialised in composition and music technology; Recently he has had a composition of his recorded by leading Irish band 'Beoga' on their album 'The Incident' . He is also a respected teacher in the Munster region of Ireland whose students frequently attain All-Ireland titles at the annual Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.
Jean Damei was born on 7th March 1989 in Grenoble, France and started to play the guitar at the age of 16. After meeting a number of Irish musicians touring and teaching music in the Alps he discovered a passion for this music. At the age of 18, he left Ardeche, his childhood home, to study guitar and flute on the Irish Music & Dance degree course at the University of Limerick. On his return to France, to Lyon in 2011, he decided to explore jazz and funk. He has found much inspiration from these two musical universes, allowing him to accompany Irish melodies in a rich and varied way, and to work with new angles and approaches to the tradition. He is now back in Limerick, studying the MA in Irish Traditional Music Performance at the University of Limerick.
Gwenn Frin is a flute/tin whistle player. Originally from Brittany, France, Gwenn fell in love with the Irish wooden flute at an early age and the flute has forever since been the thread of her life bringing her to many countries and adventures all over the world.She first performed with the ‘Cercle Celtique de Rennes’ where she was introduced to the traditional dances of Brittany before playing for the dancers themselves. Her true professional debut were with the band Beaj Iskis in the early 1990s, which toured the ‘Fest Noz’ scene in Brittany for four years. Gwenn moved to Galway, Ireland in 1998 drawn to the roots of her passion. She lived of busking for a few months before moving to Dublin to concentrate solely on her flute playing while doing a diploma in Traditional Music Performance directed by flute player Paul McGrattan. This last experience led her to doing a Master in Music and Media Technologies in Trinity College, Dublin. These amazing two years transformed her musical understanding and experience and opened up her musical horizon to contemporary and electroacoustic music and to composition. Gwenn now lives in the West of Ireland by the Cliffs of Moher. During the economic boom years, she was fronting the band Dejimbe, led a weekly traditional session with guitarist Rob Steine in Kinvara, Co. Galway. She also spent a winter in India studying Bansuri flute with Ravi Shankar Mishra. Over the last 5 years, she has taken her passion for the flute to another dimension, learning the art of flute making under the guidance of renowned flute maker Martin Doyle. She is now a freelance musician, tourguide, fitness coach, apprentice flutemaker and loves good living. Gwenn has taught flute and tinwhistle to adults and children in groups and individual classes. Having studied both traditional and classical (piano) music, she combines both methods to teach pupils the instrument and a basic knowledge of music theory. Her method emphasizes on oral memory and pitch.
I have not toured the world playing music, nor have I studied music at any renowned institution! I am a whistle learner and an avid internet lover. Here at OAIM headquarters, I am the 'tech guy'. I upload, test, edit, copy and paste and so forth. I am also usually the guy who responds to email and live chat; so don't be shy and get in touch for any reason whatsoever!