Cathal Curran and Marty Barry in concert
Cathal Ó Curraìn is a traditional musician and singer from Gaoth Dobhair, Co.Donegal. From an early age Cathal was immersed in music from attending regular sessions in Teach Huidaì Beag and from the yearly classes in An Chrannóg. Cathal has travelled the world with different bands to America, Australia, New Zealand and all throughout Europe.
His most recent work includes an Album with The High Seas, The Conifers, The Friel Sisters and Aoife Scott’s “Homebird” with the multi- Grammy award winning, Ron Block of Alisson Krauss and Union Station.
Marty Barry is a traditional musician/singer plays guitar, banjo and bouzouki. A graduate of music at the University of Limerick, Marty has featured on recent releases such as Emily Flack’s ‘Throwing Shapes’ and Alan Reid and Rachel Conlan’s ‘A Quare Yield, and is currently putting the final touches to his debut solo release.
Ryan Molloy, Caítlin Nic Gabhann and Grainne Hambly
ITMP selected 4 young musicians from Inishowen to take part in a six-week mentor program with Ryan Molloy (piano), Caitlín Nic Gabhann (concertina) and Gráinne Hambly (harp). The Mentor concert will feature performances by Ryan, Caitlín and Gráinne and introduce you to the young musicians Kieva McGonagle, Ciara Gilmore, Hanna Fiorentini and Ella McGrory who took part in the programme.
Ryan Molloy’s compositional and performance work sits at the boundary of contemporary classical music and traditional Irish music and is internationally recognised for its cross genre innovation, musicality, and deep-rooted exploration of place and time, as well as its breadth in working with a range of musicians from young amateurs to seasoned professionals.
Ryan’s music has been performed to audiences on four continents for over fifteen years and has been broadcast internationally on BBC Radio 2, 3 & Radio Ulster, RTÉ Lyric FM, Radio 1 and Ráidió na Gaeltachta as well as on BBC 2, UTV, TG4 and BBC World. Ryan’s has been commissioned by a range of renowned performers such as Darragh Morgan, Hard Rain Soloist Ensemble & the Ulster Orchestra, and he has represented Ireland at ISCM New Music Days in Hong Kong, Vancouver and Auckland.
2019 saw the release of his critically acclaimed first solo recording ‘pianophony’, and 2020 also sees the release of a new CD of chamber works, featuring the 30-minute song cycle ‘Buaine na Gaoithe’ performed by its commissioners, the Damselfly Trio. 2020 additionally sees the première of works for the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Dublin International Piano Competition and the ‘In Tune for Life Orchestra’ (a ‘trad orchestra’). Ryan is Associate Professor of Composition at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Ryan is represented by the Contemporary Music Centre (www.cmc.ie).
Visit www.ryanmolloy.ie for information on other works, performances and recordings
Caitlín Nic Gabhann
Three time All-Ireland champion on concertina, Caitlín is a regular performer at festivals and in concert halls from North America all the way to Asia. She is also an accomplished dancer and has toured the world with Riverdance as a troupe dancer. Writing tunes since the age of ten, her compositions have been performed in the Cork Opera House and The National Concert Hall, Dublin and recorded by renowned musicians in Ireland and abroad. She teaches concertina annually at summer and winter schools in Ireland, Europe and USA and has performed with the RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet, Paddy Keenan, Liam Ó Maonlaí, for Presidents and Royalty around the world, most recently at 'Ceiliúradh' in the Royal Albert Hall, London as a guest of President Michael D. Higgins. Her debut solo CD release, Caitlín was voted the 2012 'CD of the Year' award by tradconnect.com as well as being labelled the 'top Irish traditional album of 2012' by The Wall Street Journal.
Raised in a house full of music in Co.Meath, Caitlín learned most of her music from her father Antóin Mac Gabhann, a noted fiddler and fiddle teacher and his playing has greatly influenced her style and rhythm. Another great influence was Caitlín's concertina teacher, Meábh Ní Lochlainn. When it comes to dancing, Caitlín's mother Bernie is immersed in the Clare set-dancing culture and she passed a love of this on to her children - Caitlín being her dance partner at ceilís from a young age. Bernie and her brother John Murphy have influenced Caitlín's dancing greatly, as have Willie Keane, Aidan Vaughan and Tommy Browne.
A first class honours graduate of both University College Cork and Trinity College Dublin, Caitlín is currently concentrating on musical collaborations with the award-winning fiddle player and documentary maker, Ciarán Ó Maonaigh. She is also involved as musician and dancer with bands NicGaviskey, Birkin Tree, The Irish Concertina Ensemble and original theatre production Mag Mell– www.magmellshow.com.
‘Of all the many fine Irish traditional albums released in 2012, hers is the best. Caitlín gets my vote as the top Irish traditional album of 2012‘
Earle Hitchner – Music Writer, The Wall Street Journal
Gráinne Hambly from County Mayo, Ireland is an internationally recognised exponent of the Irish harp, and is in great demand as a performer and teacher, both at home and abroad. Gráinne started to play Irish music on the tin whistle at an early age, before moving on to the concertina and later the harp. She lived in Belfast for six years, where she completed a Masters Degree in Musicology, awarded by Queen’s University (1999). Her main research topic was folk music collections and the harp in 18th-century Ireland. She also completed the Graduate Diploma in Education (Music) at the University of Limerick.
Gráinne has been playing professionally as a solo musician for the past 20 years, and has performed on various occasions in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, Colombia, Israel, and Japan, as well as touring extensively in the United States, giving concerts, workshops and masterclasses. She has also toured and recorded with various artists, including the Belfast Harp Orchestra, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann and Irish Christmas In America.
She has attracted glowing praise for her live performances and recorded material, which brilliantly showcase what has been described as her ‘absolute mastery of the Irish harp’. Known for the sensitivity and expressive quality of her air-playing, as well as her dynamic performance of dance tunes, Gráinne’s playing illustrates the full range and scope of this instrument. She specialises in teaching Irish traditional music ‘by ear’ and offers private lessons and intensive tuition options at her home, as well as teaching at various annual summer schools and harp festivals.
Gráinne has featured on a number of recordings both as guest artist and accompanist. She has released three critically acclaimed solo CDs, and two books of arrangements. Her most recent collaboration is with Scottish harper William Jackson, with whom she frequently tours. They have released a recording Music from Ireland and Scotland (2009) and published some arrangements for harp ensemble.
27th September 1918 - 14th June 2003
Paddy Byrne (1918 - 2003), fiddler and composer of tunes, was born in Malin Head in a house overlooking Sandport on the 27th of September 1918. His mother was Catherine Doherty (Tam Roe) from Sliabh Ban, Malin Head, and his father was John Byrne from Kilcausey in Kilcar. John Byrne moved to Malin Head to take up a teaching position in the primary school there.
Growing up at Malin Head, Paddy was immersed in the music of the area, in particular the singing of his mother and aunts and the accordion playing of his uncles Pat and Willie.
John Byrne's teaching career saw him teach in Glassles, where the family lived for a period, and in Aughaclay, during which time they lived in Malin Town. John and Catherine had 11 children and Paddy was the eldest. He had five brothers, Tom, Michael, John, Conal and Cartha, and five sisters, Gretta, Bridie, Sally, Maire and Nabla. Two of Paddy's brothers, Michael and Cara, also played fiddle.
When Paddy was a young boy he went up to Carndonagh for violin lessons with a Mr O’Donnell. Music in the locality was very vibrant, with lots of accordion players living in Malin and surrounding area, such as Neil Toland, Frank Griffin and Tommy McGonagle. The accordion was very popular at the time and Paddy and his brothers Michael and Cara also played it as well as playing the fiddle. Paddy had fond memories of Jimmy Clingan from Carndonagh playing the fiddle. Another noted local fiddler was Pat McDonald, who played classical music in addition to traditional tunes and airs.
Dances around the area were a great source of music and camaraderie for Paddy, his brothers and family. In later years they often provided the music for the dances. Paddy’s brother Cara led a very popular band called Swingtime from the 1980's.
In order to improve his Irish, Paddy went to live with his granny Margaret née Carr and his uncle Pat Byrne outside Kilcar in south-west Donegal. He attended Coguish School in the Glen a Baile Dubh and completed his primary education there. He met many noted fiddlers in the Kilcar area, such as Francie Dearg Byrne and his brother Mickey Bán, and Peter, John and Agnes Cunningham. Paddy immersed himself in the local traditional music, learning many tunes from the locality, including highlands and barndances, to add to his tunes from Inishowen. As a result his repertoire featured tunes from both extremities in Donegal, which was probably unique.
Paddy went on to attend St Eunan’s College in Letterkenny as a boarder. After that he returned to live in Malin and worked locally. He went to Dublin and qualified as a radio officer for the Marconi Company.
Paddy worked for seven years at sea in the Merchant Navy. Towards the end of this time, in 1955, he married Bridie Canning from Magilligan in County Derry. They had five children, John, Ann, Tom, Colm and Catriona.
It was after moving to Crewe in Cheshire in 1956 that Paddy took a great interest in the fiddle again. He met Jim Sweeney from Ballinamore and Con McGinley from Glencolmcille and they formed the fiddle section of the Green Velvet Céilí Band, based in Crewe. Paddy's son Tom took up the button accordion at 11 years of age. Paddy and Tom formed a lifelong partnership in playing tunes, mainly traditional music but also jazz standards and popular ballads. They played for dances in Crewe and the surrounding area.
Paddy’s wife Bridie passed away in 1981.
It had always been their intention to return to Ireland. When Paddy retired in 1985, he went back to live in Kilcar. He found it an inspirational place in terms of his fiddling. This was where many of his tunes were composed, such as the Sliabh Bán waltz, Paddy Byrne's Barndance, and the reels, the Kilcausey Reel and Round the Rock. The last was made in memory of Francie Dearg. Paddy and his son Tom also played together regularly during Tom’s visits to Kilcar.
Paddy made a number of tunes which are now part of the local traditional repertoire in Inishowen, largely due to the great teaching of Roisin McGrory and Clodagh Warnock. One of his jig compositions recalls his favourite football field in Inishowen, the Bay Field. It’s played after the jig, Pat Tam Roe, named after Paddy's uncle.
In addition to music, Paddy's other passion was soccer, at which he excelled, as did his brother Tom. Both brothers played locally in Inishowen and also played at senior level, Paddy with Dundalk and Limerick and Tom with Coleraine.
Throughout Paddy's life music was his constant companion and on many evenings in his later years he would pass the time playing tunes or 'resurrecting' them, as he would say, from the classic O’Neill’s 1001 Collection.
Paddy died on the 14th June, 2003, and he is buried with his wife Bridie in Lagg Cemetery in Malin. A small fiddle on the headstone symbolises Paddy's love for what he called the infinite beauty of music.
Ark of Tides
Dinny’s ‘Ark of Tides’ a stunning production
Dinny McLaughlin, accompanied by many great young musicians, has recently completed the recording of ‘Ark of Tides’, a CD and DVD which features many of his most valued compositions.
As well as wonderful musical performances on both formats, the DVD features a fascinating series of interviews with Dinny which include stories full of humour and wit, told as only Dinny can tell them. The DVD gives a tremendous insight into Dinny’s influences, particularly in terms of the older musicians who have influenced him.
Filming was carried out by two outstanding talents in this field - Brian McVeigh from Buncrana and Mark McCauley from Derry. The overall production is stunning. The sound engineer was Neil McGrory, whose expertise and experience has produced a wonderful recording of warmth and clarity.
Both the CD and the DVD are an absolute requirement for everybody’s musical collection and will be launched at this year’s All Ireland Fleadh in Derry 2013.
We can all be thankful that Dinny is still very active in music, both in performance and composition.
Much has been written, documented and recorded regarding the life of Dinny McLaughlin from Shandrum, Buncrana, in Inishowen. After a lifetime devoted to music and dance, his legacy to the world of traditional music and the culture of Ireland is immeasurable. Countless generations to come will remember this great man. They’ll pay homage to his talent, his teaching achievements, the great music he has composed for them and the magnificent way he has pioneered the establishment of Inishowen as an area of excellence for traditional music, song and dance.
Above all, Dinny’s life has been a celebration of people, a realization of the importance of community and a constant desire for the pursuit and attainment of excellence. Dinny’s vision governs everything he does. What is striking is his most particular attention to detail which demands the highest standards from himself and from those he is working with.
Many diverse yet cohesive factors combined to shape Dinny’s life and his development as an individual and a musician: a natural talent and intellect; a musically passionate father, James; a strong, pragmatic mother Mary; an inspirational teacher, Pat Mulhern; an inbuilt desire and drive to succeed; and the stimulus derived from the intrinsic beauty of the landscape and the support and admiration of the community. In addition to all of this, Dinny’s house, even before he played music, was a mecca for house sessions and parties. Music lovers would come from all over Inishowen to enjoy the music, song, dancing, storytelling and great fun. As a tiny child, Dinny was assimilating all this and, whether he knew it or not, his mind and his whole being were being prepared for an explosion of art and creativity.
Spellbound at six
When this little boy of six first heard Pat Mulhern playing this beautiful instrument the fiddle, he was hypnotised. As soon as Pat laid the bow on the strings, Dinny was spellbound. The magical few hours listening to Pat and his wonderful music clarified everything for the young Dinny. Even then, he knew that the fiddle was for him and that in one way or another music was going to have to be a part of his life.
In those early days the opportunity to have your own instrument was limited, compared to the wide availability of instruments these days. Eight long years Dinny waited to get his hands on a fiddle. Eventually he got the loan of one from his neighbour and he began his weekly lessons with Pat Mulhern. From this moment on, the theory of music and the wonder of it all was replaced by the practical, as he learned to play. In those early years there were no spare minutes for him – he was consumed with fiddle playing and tunes, and his weekly lessons with Pat were interspersed with good humour, storytelling and craic. Dinny’s composition ‘Over The Moor To Paddy’ commemorates the special times and the great bond that he developed with his teacher, which became a lifetime’s friendship.
Within a few years Dinny established himself as one of Ireland’s leading players, entering and winning fiddle competitions all over the country. He was inspired by the great recordings of Michael Coleman and Andy McGann. He listened to a wide variety of recorded material. He learned ‘The Friendly Visit’ hornpipe from a recording by Peter Wiper, one of the great Scottish accordionists who recorded in the early 1900’s. Dinny was also the first person to arrange for the virtuoso fiddle player Sean McGuire to come to play in the Buncrana area, in The Swilly Hotel Folk Club.
Remarkably Dinny was eighteen before he started to dance. He quickly excelled at this as well. He even managed to play and dance at the one time, which soon became his party piece. Later on he bought a piano and began to teach himself to play. Some of his greatest tunes and melodies have been composed on the piano.
Dinny was always open to new ideas and possibilities, whether this was in choice of instrument, coming up with new arrangements in music and dance, or composing a tune or even a dance if required. Most importantly, he made a priority of encouraging the youth. He pointed them in the right direction, opening their eyes to the possibilities of music and nurturing their young interest. He motivated them through his teaching and his charismatic persona, characterised by an equal measure of passion and positivity.
In a music shop in Dublin he saw a harp, bought it and took it to Buncrana. He taught himself how to play tunes with accompaniment on it. He then presented it to Brenda Barron who, in time, became one of its leading exponents in Ireland. In a lifetime of teaching, Dinny has produced a prolific array of great musicians and dancers, many of whom have had professional careers.
One notable occasion comes to mind. A musical colleague from a southern county told Dinny that traditional Irish singing couldn’t be taught to the standard required to win an All-Ireland competition. Dinny, to prove a point, taught two children to this standard. Their success in the All-Ireland dumbfounded the man involved, who congratulated Dinny profusely.
Sometimes it might also be suggested that only children from families steeped in the tradition could reach the highest standards in traditional music. Dinny turned that hypothesis on its head by teaching a series of children of all backgrounds who, over a period of thirty years, were successful not only in competition but in their careers as musicians.
The first place Dinny taught music was in the Technical School in Buncrana. From there he went on to teach music and dance in every school in Inishowen. He played with The Crana Céilí band, The Clonmany Céilí Band, and the Four Provinces Céilí band. His first commercial recording, in 1971, ‘A Rake of Reels and a Clatter of Jigs’, helped to establish his name as a virtuoso fiddle player. This led to regular radio and television broadcasts and many high-profile concerts all over the country. Dinny went on to tour the world with the very popular group ‘Aileach’. In recent years he has played regularly with Tom Byrne and Michael Gallanagh in the group Shandrum.
A number of years ago, in Dinny’s honour, the famous Apple Hill String Quarter from New Hampshire (US) composed a piece called ‘Dinny’s Suite,’ which included their arrangements of some of Dinny’s compositions. In 2001, RTE made a documentary on his life called the ‘Pied Piper of Shandrum’. In 2005 the book, ‘From Barefoot Days’, by Liz Doherty, chronicled Dinny’s life and his influences. He has appeared on the ‘Late Late Show’ and on countless traditional music programmes. He has also adjudicated competitions all over Ireland and in the US.
Dinny’s life could be compared to a performance of classical music, with Dinny as composer, conductor, and first violin, not to mention organiser and head of marketing! In all his endeavours, his love of people and his need to interact with good will and humour have shone through.
Pioneers in every era, and in all walks of life, often don’t have it easy. They lead the way, put their head above the parapet and often face derision and negativity as much as praise. Dinny is without doubt the person who has pioneered the establishment of Inishowen as a centre of excellence in Irish traditional music and dance. In so doing, he has rightly elevated our indigenous culture, and in his own lifetime has lived to see it consolidate and flourish.
These simple words can hardly do justice to a man who has given of his time so freely and who has achieved so much in his lifetime.
May Dinny continue to play, to inspire and to compose such wonderful music. His music will live on in future generations. It is an honour to call Dinny our most valued friend and it is only fitting to pay our heartfelt tribute to him on this momentous and special tenth anniversary celebration of the Inishowen Traditional Music Project.
Tom Byrne in 2013 –