Sliabh Luachra has been the cradle of life-affirming polkas and slides for generations, and Bryan O’Leary embodies its essence with an ease that comes from a life lived in the belly of that glorious beast. Bryan is recognised as one of the finest living exponents of the Sliabh Luachea Style. His debut album ‘Where the Bog is’ was met with critical acclaim a number of years ago. His most recent offering ‘Tranquility in Tureencahill’ consisted entirely of self composed tunes, rooted to his home place.
Bryan comes from Tureencahill, a townland halfway between Ballydesmond and Gneeveguillia, in the heart of Sliabh Luachra.
Shortly after his grandfather, the great accordionist Johnny O’Leary, (a TG4 Gradam Ceoil Lifetime Achievement recipient in 2003) passed away, young Bryan, aged 10, started to learn the accordion at his local national school from Henry Cronin.
Through his teens, he attended classes with the respected teacher and multi-instrumentalist Nicky McAuliffe from Castleisland. He also took a great interest in his grandfather’s music, learning it by ear and researching the old recordings. Not surprisingly, he quickly became aware of and was influenced by the music of other Sliabh Luachra stalwarts such as Denis Murphy, Julia Clifford, Pádraig O’Keeffe and Paddy Cronin (a TG4 Gradam Ceoil Lifetime Achievement recipient in 2007 ).
He has played at various festivals including Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, Scoil Cheoil an Earraigh, The Patrick O’Keeffe Festival, The Gathering Festival and The Con Curtin Music Festival.
Paudie O Connor is an accordion player from Sliabh Luachra Kerry. His playing follows in the traditions of Sliabh Luachra, with his influences ranging from the bowing of Padraig O’ Keeffe and Denis Murphy to the time spent in his youth playing with local box players Johnny O’ Leary, Jimmy Doyle and John Brosnan. In 2005, he launched a landmark recording of Sliabh Luachra music entitled ‘Different State’ which featured in the best of 2005 lists of both The Irish Times and The Irish Echo. Paudie’s music also featured on the album The County Bounds, a 1999 Ossian records production featuring a compilation of music from the Cork-Kerry border including contributions from Johnny O’Leary, Jackie Daly and Peadar Ó Riada. On ‘Different State’, his wife Aoife Ní Chaoimh, a fiddle player from Tralee, Co. Kerry, joins Paudie.
In 2008, Paudie released the album Wind and Reeds with uilleann-piper John O’Brien and Jim Murray on guitar. Paudie is a regular contributor to traditional music festivals, workshops and lectures at home and abroad. In 2010, Paudie performed in the music ensemble as part of Rough Magic’s production of Phaedra for the Dublin Theatre Festival and in 2011 presented an episode of Geantraí featuring Sliabh Luachra musicians. In December 2014, Paudie and Aoife launched the critically acclaimed ‘Didn’t She Dance and Dance’, an album of dance tunes from Sliabh Luachra.
Described by legendary accordion player Joe Burke as a ‘master musician’, Daithí Gormley is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished Button Accordion players of his generation with an extensive and much respected repertoire steeped in the rich musical heritage of his native county Sligo. He is a regular performer on Irish radio and television and has performed at festivals and concerts nationally and internationally.
He has researched, published, and lectured on Irish traditional music and is in high demand as an accomplished tutor, lecturer, and performer. In November 2017 Daithí and Sligo fiddler Oisín MacDiarmada published the ‘Fiddlers of Sligo Tunebook’ and in April 2018 Daithí released his, much anticipated, debut solo album ‘Fiddling without a Bow’ – Irish Traditional Music on Button Accordion to wide critical acclaim.
In addition to being an outstanding performer, Daithí is also in high demand as an accomplished tutor teaching widely at many festivals and summer schools nationally and internationally, including the South Sligo Summer School, Joe Mooney Summer School, Ceardlann Earraigh, Birmingham Trad Fest, New York Trad Fest, Return to Camden Town Festival and Scoil Egise to name but a few.
Derek Hickey hails from Adare, Co. Limerick. Both his grandfathers played fiddle and his own musical career began at ten years of age when his uncle left an accordion in the family home. Derek progressed to dance tunes within weeks though he didn’t begin lessons – under the tutelage of Dónal de Barra – until he was 12.
Derek’s professional career began three years later when he joined the Shannonside Céilí Band. Formed by the Liddy family the band was particularly popular in the north of the country. It also toured extensively in England and made regular trips throughout Europe.
In 1991 Frankie Gavin asked Derek to join him for regular sessions in his then leased hotel in Kinvara, Co. Galway. One year later, at just eighteen years of age Derek joined Arcady, Johnny ‘Ringo’ McDonagh’s band. Frances Black, Brendan Larrisey and Patsy Broderick were also members of the band at that time and many other household names have played in the line-up including Sharon Shannon, Cathal Hayden and Gerry O’Connor.
In 1995 Derek joined the legendary De Dannan. The De Dannan sound has always been based around the interaction between Frankie Gavin’s virtuoso fiddle and the box. Other great box players in De Dannan’s colourful history have included Jackie Daly, Mairtin O’Connor and Aidan Coffey. His pairing with Gavin proved to be one of the best box and fiddle duets ever. He toured with De Dannan until they disbanded in 2003. Derek is a button accordion tutor on the BA Irish Music and Dance at the Irish World Academy.
Aidan Connolly is a fiddle player from Rathfarnham who has been heavily influenced both by the musicians of his locality and the great fiddlers of times past: Paddy Cronin, Paddy Canny and Denis Murphy to name but a few. He has studied traditional music in-depth and is a highly respected authority on traditional instrumental music from the 1920s onwards.
Aidan has a tremendous interest in archive materials (books, manuscripts, recorded sound, etc.) and has a vast repertoire of tunes of traditional and more contemporary origin, as well as from other folk music genres. Aidan has his own unique style of playing and is a highly sought-after performer both in Ireland and abroad. He released his debut album, Be Off, in October 2016 to critical acclaim.
Aidan relocated to the Spanish city of Valencia in 2018 and is now a regular performer in Spain, Ireland, and further afield in the USA, Australia and Japan. In 2019, Aidan collaborated with fiddle player John Daly on Away On Up The Road, a must-have album for fiddle fans
“I’M TELLING you that Connell is good, he’ll be heard of yet,” declared the late fiddle player Denis Murphy, one of the finest exponents of Sliabh Luachra Music many years ago. How right he was. Connie is one of the most respected musicians in the country with regard to style and repertoire — incredibly, he is self-taught on the fiddle.
Connie O’Connell is a fiddler and composer from Cill na Martra, Co. Cork – a parish located between Macroom and Ballyvourney. At the age of twelve, Connie was given his first fiddle and began to teach himself how to play. He is one of the strongest exponents of Sliabh Luachra fiddle music, very much in the tradition of Patrick O’Keefe. His versions of tunes have reached all corners of Ireland and beyond. Jigs and reels composed by Connie O’Connell have been recorded on vinyl, CD and tape by some of the best traditional musicians over the years.
Connie has made regular appearances playing on national television over the years and is also a well regarded composer . He has lectured in music at UCC for over 40 years and in 2015 he released an online collection of his tunes titled “Bóithrín na Smaointe.”
Liam O’Brien is a concertina player and teacher from Miltown Malbay Co. Clare. Liam began his musical education at the age of 4 under tutelage of his mother, Bríd O’Donoghue, and the legendary Noel Hill. However it is Liam’s own style and sound that makes him stand out as a remarkable young musician with a distinct and memorable musical accent. He has recently finished a BA Irish Music & Dance at the University of Limerick. Liam has performed and taught at workshops in various parts of the world including Tokyo, Tanzania, France, Switzerland, Austria, Romania and Scotland. In February 2017 Liam received the Ceoltóir Óg award at the Gradam Ceoil TG4 awards, the Traditional Music ‘Oscars.’ In 2018 Liam released his debut album ‘The Lane’ to much aclaim. Liam plays and teaches at festivals throughout the country and is regularly featured on RTE and TG4.
Widely regarded as one of the finest uilleann pipers in the world, Mick O’Brien will be our Uileann Pipes tutor at this years festival. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to receive tuition from one of Ireland’s finest musicians. Dublin born Mick O’Brien plays uilleann pipes, whistle and flute. Mick began his musical education on the Uilleann pipes in the renowned Thomas Street Pipers Club in Dublin. His father Dinny O`Brien, a traditional “box” player, was also a constant source of tunes and inspiration. Mick recorded his first LP with his family when he was 13 years old. He later joined Na Piobairi Uilleann, an organisation founded to promote piping, where he absorbed hundreds of tunes and refined his technique.
He performs regularly as a solo artist, with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, and with the Norwegian groups Vamp, Hanne Krogh, and Secret Garden. His playing can be heard on numerous recordings with artists such as The Dubliners, Frankie Gavin and the RTE Concert Orchestra.
Mick has toured extensively and given master classes throughout Europe and North America. His first solo album ‘The May Morning Dew’ (1996) was received with great critical acclaim. ‘Kitty Lie Over’, Mick’s duet recording with Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, is widely regarded as one of the finest recordings of traditional music in recent years, as is the follow up album ‘Deadly Buzz’.
John Kelly hails from Roscommon Town, an area steeped in the tradition of flute playing. Traditional Music took a very central part in John’s life from a very young age and soon he had won All Ireland honours in every underage category.
In 1995, John moved to Ennis, Co. Clare and quickly became an integral part of the town’s thriving traditional music scene performing with musicians such as Siobhan Peoples, Murty Ryan and Cyril O’Donoghue.
In 2003, John released a duet album ‘Fourmilehouse’ with his brother Alan, which gained widespread critical acclaim and resulted in extensive touring and festival appearances in countries such as France, Sweden, Spain and the U.K.
Earle Hitchner, from The Wall Street Journal and Irish Echo stated: “The dozen tracks of Fourmilehouse are both a summation and a summit for the two brothers–a summation of where they’ve been individually, a summit of how well they now play collectively. Jigs, reels, hornpipes, and a slow air seem to flow effortlessly and naturally, achieving that rare level of instant, intuitive communication between players. What a stunning duet album these talented brothers have given us”
A well respected music teacher, John has guided many young flautists to Munster and All Ireland titles.
Caoimhín Ó Fearghail was born in 1989 and comes from An Rinn in the Waterford Gaeltacht. He started to learn the tin-whistle at the age of eight, taking lessons from Bobby Gardiner. He quickly progressed to the uilleann pipes, under the tutelage of David Power. He is self-taught on flute and guitar inspired by such diverse flute players as Matt Molloy, Mike Rafferty and Tom Doorley. Some of his strongest piping influences include the old greats such as Séamus Ennis, Willie Clancy, Leo Rowsome, Tommy Reck and Patsy Touhey. He cannot deny the big influence that Liam O’Flynn, Mick O’Brien and Waterford pipers Tommy Kearney, Jimmy O’Brien-Moran, Tommy Keane and Donnchadh Gough have had on him, and is very much influenced by the many other great musicians and singers of his home area in Co. Waterford.
In 2006, as part of his school transition year project, he released an album entitled ‘Giorraíonn Beirt Bóthar’, with a group of friends, local musicians and singers. It featured guest appearances from well-known local artists including Liam Clancy, Áine Uí Cheallaigh, Donnchadh Gough and Ciarán Ó Gealbháin.
Since then, he has featured on a number of albums, as accompanist quite often, including on Caitlín Nic Gabhann’s album ‘Caitlín’, and Edel Fox and Neill Byrne’s ‘The Sunny Banks’. In 2013, he also recorded an album ‘Lá ag Ól Uisce’ with his brother Seán and Tomás Ó Gealbháin, and is featured playing pipes solo on ‘The Rolling Wave’, a compilation album issued by NPU.
Caoimhín was the 2012 recipient of the TG4 Young Musician of the Year award (Gradam Ceoil TG4).
In September 2013, he featured on a Music Network tour with Noel Hill and Liam O’Connor called ‘Bellows, Bridge & Bow’. In 2014, he joined the group Caladh Nua as guitar player with additional flute and has toured extensively with them, and has performed on various instruments with other well-known groups as well, such as Danú, Piper’s Union, and Skipper’s Alley. In 2018, Caoimhín recorded an album of flute and fiddle music with fiddler Paddy Tutty from nearby Dungarvan, and in 2020, NPU (Na Píobairí Uilleann) released a solo piping album of his music as part of their ‘Ace & Deuce of Piping’ series.
A frequent teacher and performer, he has taught pipes and performed at many piping Tionóil agus other piping events in Ireland such as Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, the William Kennedy Piping Festival in Armagh, and also at the Northeast Tionól in the US. He has also toured abroad playing with groups such as Caladh Nua and Danú all over the US, the UK, Europe, Newfoundland and New Zealand.
Caoimhín is a graduate of UCC with an MA in Irish and has a keen interest in the songs of the Déise and their airs. He plays a concert pitch set of pipes made by Alain Froment for him.
He was recently chosen as Best Folk Instrumentalist at the RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards for 2021.
with Johnny Reidy Céilí Band and others
Details on Tutors available here (embed link)
Accordion : Daithí Gormley & Derek Hickey
Sliabh Luachra Repertoire (All instruments) : Paudie O’Connor
Fiddle: Connie O Connell, Oisin MacDiarmada
Sliabh Luachra Fiddle Class: Emma O’Leary
Flute: Eamon O’Riordan
Concertina: Liam O’Brien
Pipes: Mick O’Brien
Banjo: Tutor TBC
Guitar: Caoimhín Ó’Fearghail
Tom Billy Murphy: His life and Legacy Raymond O Sullivan
30 Years of the POK Festival A reflection by festival founder Peter Browne
Sliabh Luachra: A view from across the pond by Patrick Kavanagh webmaster of
Sliabh Luachra Repertoire with Paudie O’Connor (All Instruments)
Sliabh Luachra Repertoire with Paudie O’Connor (All Instruments)
Accordion : Daithí Gormley
Accordion : Derek Hickey
Fiddle: Connie O Connell
Fiddle: Oisin MacDiarmada
Aidan Connolly (Tunes from the Sliabh Luachra Handed Down Archive)
Flute: John Kelly
Concertina: Liam O’Brien
Pipes: Mick O’Brien
Banjo: Tutor TBC
Guitar: Caoimhín Ó’Fearghail