PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS PAGE IS STILL BEING MODIFIED AND IS NOT COMPLETE.

2018 Instructors & Presenters

Click on an instructor's name for bio.

Core Classes and Instructors

Anglo Concertina (All Levels)-- Jack Talty Flute/Whistle (Fundamentals) -- Nolan Ladewski
Bodhran (Fundamentals) -- Rick Holt Guitar (All Levels) -- Seamie O'Dowd (melodies by Chris Buckley)
Bodhran (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Rob Forkner Harp (All Levels) -- Aislinn Gagliardi
Bouzouki (All Levels) -- Brian Miller Mandolin/Tenor Banjo (Fundamentals) -- Pete Strickler
Button Accordion (All Levels) -- Máirtín O'Connor Mandolin (Intermediate & Advanced)) -- Marla Fibish
Dancing (Al Levels) -- Máirtín de Cógáin Piano Accordion (All Levels) -- Annmarie Acosta
Fiddle (Fundamentals) -- Niamh Fahy Singing (All Levels) -- Éilís Kennedy
Fiddle (Intermediate) -- Yvonne Casey, Niamh Ní Charra OR Liam O'Connor Tenor Banjo (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Cathal Hayden
Fiddle (Advanced) -- Brian Conway Uilleann Pipes (All Levels) -- Jerry O'Sullivan
Fiddle (Lectures & Fiddle Masterclass) -- Séamus Connolly Whistle (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Kathleen Conneely
Flute (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Aoife Granville  
 

Workshops and Presenters

Arranging Traditional Irish Songs 101-- Matthew Lewis & Diehl Moran Retreat Tunes Played Slowly -- John Liestman, Kenny Tweedy
Ceili Dancing Workshops -- Emily Furillo Sean-nós Dance Workshop -- Emily Furillo
Focus Your Tune Practicing -- Tom Lockney & Ian Varley Singers' Voice Lab-- Melinda Standefer
Instrument Petting Zoo -- John Liestman So Many Tunes, Where Do I Start? -- Clare Cason
Irish Tunes on Harmonica -- Paul Dryer Tune Swap -- Judson Heartsill
Methods to Ease the Pains of Irish Music -- Heather Carmichael Understanding Traditional Irish Music Theory -- Ian Varley
O'Carolan Tunes Played Slowly -- Therese Honey Youth Education and Engagement Roundtable -- Erica Braverman
Reed Making for Uilleann Pipes -- Dirk Mewes  
 

Enrichment Classes and Instructors

Accompaniment -- Annmarie Acosta Irish Songs for Children -- Éilís Kennedy
Audio Production for Traditional Irish Music -- Jack Talty Learning Irish Language Basics -- Aoife Granville
Dissecting the Irish Session -- Pete Strickler Mná an Cheoil - 100 Years of Women in Irish Music -- Niamh Ní Charra
Fiddle Masterclass -- Séamus Connolly The Music of Mayo -- Jerry O'Sullivan
From Cork with Love: A Musical Travelogue -- Máirtín de Cógáin The P.W. Joyce Music Collections -- Liam O'Connor
From Sheet Music to Learning by Ear - Making the Transition -- Aislinn Gagliardi Regional Whistle Styles Of Ireland -- Kathleen Conneely
Getting Under Your Skin: an Overview of Bodhran Making -- Rob Forkner Séamus Connolly Collection – A Tribute -- Séamus Connolly
Interpreting Slow Airs -- Aoife Granville Who Doesn’t Need More Slip Jigs? -- Marla Fibish
Irish Influenced Lumber Camp Folk Songs of the Great Lakes -- Brian Miller   
 

Session Leaders

Slow Sessions --John Liestman, Kenny Tweedy
Intermediate Sessions -- Michelle Feldman, Gordon McLeod, Diehl Moran, Ian Varley
Advanced Sessions -- Judd Heartsill, Linda Relph
Song Sessions -- Matthew Cook, Robert Shaddox
Bodhran Friendly Session -- Rick Holt
Harp Session -- Therese Honey
 

Lone Star Ceili Band

Chris Buckley, Daniel Mehalko, Kendall Rogers

 

CLASS INSTRUCTORS (alphabetical)

Annmarie Acosta – Piano Accordion (All Levels)

Annmarie AcostaAnnmarie Acosta studied traditional Irish dance and music in New York, learning from some of the best teachers, including Jerry Mulvihill, Donny Golden, and the late Maureen Glynn Connolly.

In 1998 Annmarie became the senior All-Ireland champion in the accompaniment category at the fleadh cheoil. During this same year, Annmarie achieved her T.C.R.G. and was honored by Irish America Magazine as one of the top 100 Irish Americans of the year. Annmarie has placed third in the senior piano accordion competition at the fleadh cheoil on three occasions.

After opening the Acosta School of Irish Music and Dance in September 1998, Annmarie has gone on to teach many young musicians and dancers in the New York area. Her students have achieved many awards, both at the national and international level, and have performed at festivals, concerts, on radio, and at the 2008 Papal Youth Rally in honor of Pope Benedict's visit to NYC. She has adjudicated fleadhanna at county, provincial, and All-Ireland level. She has released two recordings of Irish step dancing music, Over the Bridge & Rince Ceol. Annmarie has taught at summer programs specializing in Irish Traditional Music including Irish Arts Week in New York and Scoil Eigse in Ireland.

In 2007, Annmarie graduated with a Masters Degree in Irish Traditional Music from the University of Limerick.. While there, she studied piano, piano accordion, harp, concertina, and fiddle. After returning to New York, Annmarie taught as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, offering a course on Traditional Irish Music and Dance. Today, Annmarie continues as the director of the Acosta School of Irish Music and Dance, now celebrating it's twentieth year. Annmarie will be inducted into the Mid- Atlantic Hall of Fame in June 2018, joining a long list of wonderful musicians that she greatly respects and admires.

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Yvonne Casey – Fiddle (Intermediate)

Yvonne CaseyMusic is Yvonne Casey’s life.  From Corofin, Co. Clare, Yvonne grew up surrounded by the richness of Clare music, which she plays in a unique soulful style. Sitting in sessions from a very young age, she discovered the joys of seasoning in Doolin as a teenager, where she met and played with Kevin Griffin and Eoin O’ Neill. In the 1990’s she helped form the band The Ceili Bandits, and they recorded two CDs and toured Europe and the U.S. Yvonne recorded a beautiful solo CD in 2004 which included some of her own compositions.

Although her first love is for traditional music, she has also played and toured with trad-rock band Bushplant and singer songwriter Luka Bloom. Since then Yvonne has created her own music school in Clare while also being invited to play and teach at various festivals at home and abroad. Her recent collaboration with accordion genius Dermot Byrne is charming audiences everywhere with their fresh new sound. Yvonne is currently recording a new album of mostly her own compositions to be released in 2018. A special treat in store for all music lovers!

 

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Kathleen Conneely – Whistle (Intermediate & Advanced)

Kathleen ConneelyBorn in Bedford, England, to Irish parents from Galway and Longford, Kathleen Conneely began playing Irish music at age twelve, along with her siblings, Bernadette, Michael and Pauline who taught banjo at last year's retreat.  She took lessons from Co. Clare musician Brendan Mulkere, a well- regarded teacher in and around London. 

Her father Michael was a fiddle, accordion, and tin whistle player from Errislannan, Co. Galway, and the Conneely home was always filled with music from records and live sessions with many visiting musicians. In 1991, she appeared with her father, Mick Sr., brother, Mick Jr., fiddle and banjo player John Carty and flutist Roger Sherlock on RTE’s The Pure Drop.

Over the years, Kathleen has lived in London, Dublin, Chicago, Rhode Island and Boston, places where there was always a lively traditional Irish music scene that has helped to sustain her passion for the music.  For over 20 years, she has taught for Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann both in Dublin and Boston, at the Boston College Irish Studies program, Gaelic Roots, the Irish Arts Week in the Catskills, the Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, NC and Feile Chois Ceoil in Louisburgh, Co. Mayo. In 2012, she released her first solo CD, The Coming of Spring.

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Séamus Connolly – Lectures and Fiddle Masterclass

Séamus ConnollyWe are proud to welcome back fiddle legend Séamus Connolly, who inaugurated the first annual O’Flaherty Retreat in 2004.  This year Séamus returns in a special class to discuss his work on The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music, which reflects more than 14 years of collecting and organizing music that links three generations of musicians and pays tribute to those in previous generations who kept the tradition alive. The collection consists of over 330 traditional tunes and songs, including both old recordings and contemporary performances, rare tunes and new compositions. He will also teach a Fiddle Masterclass.

No one has won more All-Ireland solo championships on fiddle than Séamus whose total of ten represents a benchmark that may never be equaled. His first title came at age 12, just ten months after initially picking up the instrument, while his first senior title came at age 17, making him the youngest senior champion ever. Séamus, who’s self taught, also won the coveted Fiddler of Dooney competition as a soloist in 1967 and four Oireachtas duet titles with Kilmaley, Clare, flutist Peadar O’Loughlin.

Born in Killaloe, Clare, in 1944, Séamus was raised in a household of music. His father, Mick, played accordion, whistle, and flute; his mother, Lena, played accordion and piano; and his younger brother, Martin, is a button accordionist who won the All-Ireland senior title in 1978. Séamus also played in two exceptional céilí bands, the Leitrim and the Kilfenora, and formed musical ties with button accordionists Paddy Ryan from Tipperary and Paul Brock from Westmeath.

But it is with another button accordionist, Paddy O’Brien (1922-1991) of Newtown, Tipperary, that Séamus forged one of the most celebrated duos in Irish musical history. From about 1964 to 1976, the year Séamus immigrated to America, the two played together as often as they could, and at one point they joined Peadar O’Loughlin, fiddler Paddy Canny, and pianist George Byrt in a group called Inis Cealtra.

In 1973 Séamus Connolly and Paddy O’Brien, accompanied by pianist Charlie Lennon, recorded a “little LP” of just six tracks, The Banks of the Shannon. It was anything but “little” in the estimation of Irish traditional music lovers, who eagerly snapped up the limited copies to savor the stunning tandem playing of Séamus and Paddy, dubbed “the Father of the B/C Accordion.”

Stateside, Séamus Connolly has added substantially to his prior achievements in Ireland. He has made two acclaimed solo recordings, Notes From My Mind in 1988 and Here and There in 1989, as well as Warming Up, a superb CD with flutist Jack Coen, button accordionist Martin Mulhaire, and pianist Felix Dolan in 1993. That same year, Séamus contributed four tracks of his own to the CD reissue of The Banks of the Shannon, which contains the six original tracks of the “little LP” and five solo tracks from the mid-1950s by Paddy O’Brien. The Clare fiddler’s talent also graces The Boston College Irish Fiddle Festival: My Love Is in America in 1991, Masters of the Folk Violin in 1993, and more than two dozen other albums by such artists as Jerry O’Sullivan, John Whelan, and Jimmy Nooan.

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Brian Conway – Fiddle (Advanced)

Brian ConwayNew York born fiddler Brian Conway is a leading exponent of the tastefully ornamented Sligo fiddling style made famous by the late Michael Coleman. The winner of two All- Ireland junior titles in 1973 and 1974 and the All-Ireland senior championship of 1986, Brian's early studies were with his father Jim of Plumbridge, County Tyrone and with Limerick born fiddler/teacher Martin Mulvihill. However, it was the legendary fiddler and composer Martin Wynne who taught him the real secrets of the County Sligo style. Later, Brian met and befriended the great Andy McGann of New York, a direct student of Michael Coleman, who further shaped his precision and skill on the instrument.

In 1979, Brian recorded a duet album, The Apple In Winter (Green Linnet) with fellow New York fiddler Tony Demarco. He released his debut solo CD, First Through the Gate, on the Smithsonian-Folkways label in July 2002. This CD was voted the Album of the Year by The Irish Echo. Brian is also featured on the CD, My Love is in America, recorded at the Boston College Irish Fiddle Festival, and on the documentary Shore to Shore"which highlights traditional Irish music in New York. He is considered one of the musical rocks of the New York area.

In 2007, Brian released a CD titled A Tribute to Andy McGann on the prestigious Irish Label Cló Iar-Chonnachta. This CD pairs up Irish music legends Joe Burke and Felix Dolan along with Brian in a CD which has received glowing accolades since its release in the summer of 2007. Brian followed this CD with a much-anticipated solo CD titled Consider the Source in deference to the rich environment from which Brian learned his music. This CD was released in 2008 on the Cló Iar-Chonnachta Label. This CD features guest appearances by music greats Niamh Parsons, Dan Milner, Billy McComiskey, Joannie Madden, Felix Dolan, and Brendan Dolan. Earle Hitchner of the Irish Echo described this CD as "Easily one of the best releases this year." Brian followed up that recording with the highly acclaimed Pride of New York, and last year, in 2017, recorded with the group Gailfean, featuring John Whelan, Mairtin DeCogain and Don Penzien who first played together at the O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat as an assigned ensemble during the instructor concerts in 2012. This will be Brian’s third appearance at the O’Flaherty Retreat.

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Máirtín de Cógáin – Set Dancing (All Levels)

Máirtín de CógáinMáirtín de Cógáin is a singing, dancing, storytelling bodhrán player who also is a noted playwright and actor. He performs in his native Ireland and all over the U.S. in between and beyond, too! An infectious personality, Máirtín pleasantly commands the attention of any collection of people, from a concert hall to an intimate porch.

Descended from a long line of storytellers and with two Comhaltas All-Ireland’s for Storytelling under his belt, Máirtín gets no more joy out of life than the telling of stories. Growing up in a rambling house in Carrigaline, Co. Cork, where parties were frequent, when the dancing would stop for a break, everyone had to have their party piece, and from the age of 7 Máirtín was no exception. His father Barry taught him nearly all he knows; the rest he picked up from the many great yarnspinners he has met along the road like Éamon Kelly, Pat 'the Hat' Speith, Bob Jennings, Éamonn de Barra and many more.

When touring the globe with Gailfean (Brian Conway, John Whelan & Don Penzien), The Fuchsia Band (Eoin Verling, Brian McGillicuddy & Mick Heffernan), Captain Mackey's Goatskin and Stringband (Jimmy Crowley) & The Máirtín de Cógáin Project, Máirtín is also a true promoter of the Ballad. He is searching ever for those forgotten songs of old to give them new life, and also writes some of his own.  Máirtín learnt from many famous Irish singers such as Danni Maichi Ua Súilleabháin, Séamus Mac Mathúna, and Ciarán Dwyer. A fluent speaker of Irish (Gaelic), his love of the ‘Teanga na Gael‘ stems from his parents, who brought him up in a bilingual house and sent him to primary and secondary schools taught in the medium of Irish.  Máirtín then earned a degree in the Irish language from University College Cork.

If not on stage singing, storytelling, dancing, or playing the bodhrán, Máirtín is treading the boards as an actor, most notably in the film The Wind that Shakes the Barley.  He has co-written many productions with the Be Your Own Banana Theatre Company, recently playing De Bogman Off-Broadway in NY.

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Niamh Fahy – Fiddle (Fundamentals)

Niamh FahyNiamh Fahy’s passion for everything musical has been apparent since a young age. Originally from Ireland and now living in Austin, Texas, Niamh learned her trade from renowned fiddle player Antoin MacGabhann in her native County Meath. 

Niamh performs and tours with Austin based Irish band The Here & Now alongside Chris Buckley, Rob Forkner and Joseph Carmichael. Niamh was a soloist with Riverdance for five years and has also worked with John Williams, Project West and Indian Dhol drumming outfit The Dhol Foundation.

Niamh runs a remote string recording business, StringPress, composing and arranging string tracks for bands and soloists around the world. When she is not playing music, she works as a music therapist for a counseling service that provides mental health services for children and families who have experienced trauma.  Niamh taught at O' Flaherty's Irish Music Retreat in 2015 and is looking forward to retuning again this year. 

 

 

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Marla Fibish – Mandolin (Intermediate & Advanced)

Marla FibishOne of the prominent voices on the mandolin in Irish music, Marla Fibish brings a musicality to the tradition that is not often heard on the instrument. Her dynamic playing is featured on the 2017 Noctambule release A Sweetish Tune, the 2010 recording Three Mile Stone, and The Morning Star, a duo CD with Jimmy Crowley released in 2011, an all instrumental project that features Irish music on an array of mandolin-family instruments. 

In addition to the mandolin, Marla plays mandola, tenor guitar, and button accordion. She sings and writes music and is known for her musical settings of works from a variety of poets. This work is featured in her current duo project Noctambulewith guitarist and husband Bruce Victor. Their earlier releases include Travel in the Shadows in 2013 and The Waking in 2015.

An experienced and sought-after teacher, Marla teaches private students and classes online at Peghead Nation and has been a staff instructor at many music camps, including The O’Flaherty.  Her instructional DVD Irish Mandolin Basics: Tunes & Technique has been a popular self-learning tool, focused on acquiring the foundational technique for playing Irish music on the mandolin.

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Rob Forkner – Bodhrán (Intermediate & Advanced)

Albert AlfonsoRob Forkner was introduced to the music at a young age, and unable to find a suitable instrument Rob took directly to making his own.  Since then Rob’s musical experience has been a mixture of being both a player of music and a maker of instruments.  Rob started building his own drums many years ago and is now one of the most sought after builders of bodhrans in the world, particularly among modern style players. 

Rob’s playing style is a mix of traditional and modern, with emphasis on drive and lift without getting in the way of the music.  Rob has played and recorded music with more people than he can remember (Ed Miller, Gaelic Storm, Liz Carroll, The Tea Merchants, The Here & Now, amongst many others), and his drums are played by many of today’s most notable players (John Joe Kelly (Flook); Colm Phelan (Goitse); Robbie Walsh (Four Winds); Kieran Leonard (the Recollective); Jim Higgins; Niall Preston; Ciara Connolly; and many others). 

Rob has taught bodhran at schools and festivals in Ireland (Ceolaras Coleman, Gurteen, Co. Sligo; BulaBuzz, Dublin), Europe (Vlaams Iers Vliers op Texel, Netherlands; Gooikoorts Music Festival, Belgium),  and the US (Milwaukee Irish Fest, Austin Celtic Festival, NTIF, Mississippi Celtic Fest) and is really looking forward to meeting everyone at this year’s O’Flaherty retreat!


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Aislinn Gagliardi – Harp (All Levels)

Aislinn GagliardiAislinn Gagliardi is an Irish harpist and composer based in Chicago who is sought after as a performer, teacher, and recording artist. Drawing from her background in Irish dance and influenced by a diverse musical range from classical to Cape Breton, Aislinn’s distinct style shines through her music in an open and honest way. Known for her syncopated and melodic accompaniment, her compositions and arrangements offer a fresh perspective to the Irish music tradition.

Her recently released debut solo harp album, The Thin Place, has been called “stunning, a monumental piece of work from a very talented and driven harper” (Jack Baker of Irish American News). Additionally, Aislinn’s tune, “The Thin Place,” and accompanying title track are featured on the "Irish Traditional Music Archive’s Newly Composed Tunes” and Songs in the Irish Tradition playlist.

Aislinn performs frequently at festivals including the Milwaukee Irish Fest, and she regularly co-hosts traditional Irish music sessions in and around Chicago. She is an adjunct instructor at the Milwaukee Irish Fest School of Music, teaches workshops at the Old Town School of Folk Music, and has also taught at the Center for Irish Music, the Harp Gathering, the Milwaukee Irish Fest Summer School, the Madison Folk Harp Society, and the St. Louis Tionol.

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Aoife Granville– Flute (Intermediate & Advanced)

Aoife GranvilleAoife Granville, who hails from Dingle, is highly regarded as a multi-instrumentalist and singer. She has performed, toured, and recorded extensively and is currently preparing her third solo album. Aoife is acclaimed as an influential figure in the contemporary Irish fluting tradition.   

She holds a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from University College Cork and teaches, lectures and researches in traditional and popular musics, festival and folklore and has held lectureship posts at Newcastle University (UK) and at University College Cork. Aoife has been an invited lecturer and performer throughout Ireland as well as through Europe and the US and is currently researching an Arts Council funded project on the songs of West Kerry from Bailiúcháin na Scol (The Schools Collection).

 

 

 

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Cathal Hayden – Tenor Banjo (Intermediate & Advanced)

Cathal HaydenCathal Hayden was born in July of 1963, in the village of the Rock, Co. Tyrone, an area immersed in traditional music. The third in a family of eight, he was born into a deep musical background. His first instrument was a tenor banjo before progressing on to fiddle.

Cathal’s father was a great follower of the All-Ireland Fleadh and during the mid 1970’s, he brought Cathal all around Ireland to play and learn from other musicians. Cathal competed at this annual event from the age 12, right up in to his early twenties, winning the title in both banjo and fiddle many times. It was here that he learned many new tunes and began absorbing other styles. Cathal recorded his first solo album, Handed Down in 1980, with Arty McGlynn on guitar. McGlynn went on to produce Cathal’s second solo offering, the self-titled Cathal Hayden, in the summer of 1999.

Cathal’s first step into stardom began in 1988, with his participation in the band Arcady.  In 1991, after leaving Arcady, Cathal formed the group Four Men and a Dog.  Their first album, Barking Mad, became the first Irish band to receive the Folks Roots award for best album.

Pursuing a solo career after Four Men and a Dog, Cathal collaborated with other musicians to play at events all around the world. Besides Arty McGlynn, he formed numerous alliances with the renowned accordionist Mairtin O’Connor, piano accordion maestro Alan Kelly, Bothy band piper Paddy Keenan, and singer/guitarist Seamie O'Dowd to name a few. In 2002 he reunited with Four Men and a Dog to produce Maybe Tonight, which re-established their position as one of the most successful Irish music band.

In addition to his many musical collaborations, Cathal has been involved in the Marie Jones play, The Blind Fiddler. He has helped arrange a score with the musical partnership of Máirtín O’Connor and Cathal Synnott (piano & keyboards) and played live on stage at each performance. It has played to audiences in the Lyric Theatre and the Grand Opera House, in Belfast and in the "Assembly Rooms" at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He has featured on numerous national televisions and radio broadcasts, both in a solo and group capacity.

This is Cathal’s second appearance at the O’Flaherty Retreat; in 2015 he was invited to be the advanced fiddle instructor and returns this year to teach banjo.


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Rick Holt – Bodhrán (Fundamentals)

Cara WildmanTexas-based percussionist Rick Holt immersed himself in the Irish music culture after he discovered the engaging sound of the bodhran almost 20 years ago. Rick has been playing drums since he was 6 years old and earned his degree in Music Education from Troy University.  He has performed a variety of musical styles, from classical to rock and musical theater.  Recently, as a performer, composer and arranger, Rick has been exploring the boundaries of Celtic and Irish music and works to apply these insights to the bodhran.  He has traveled to Ireland to study bodhran with some of the top players in the world and afterward enjoyed participating in local sessions around the country.

Rick has been involved in the Irish music community in North Texas since 2003, performing with area artists in bands and sessions and recording with local Irish musicians. He has served as a board member of the Traditional Irish Music Educator's Society and for over a decade was on the staff of the O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat. He has been teaching bodhran privately and with the North Texas School of Irish Music and the O'Flaherty Irish Music Youth Camp.

 

 

 

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Éilís Kennedy – Singing (All Levels)

Brendan NolanEilís Kennedy was born and raised in the heart of West Kerry, Ireland, to parents who passed on a lifelong and committed interest in the poetry and songs of that region. She has been fortunate to have had the opportunity to listen to many of the finest exponents of Gaelic singing, instilling in her a knowledge and appreciation for the emotion and stories associated with the tradition.   As well as being recognized as one of  Ireland’s  foremost folk singers, Eilis plays whistle and Irish flute and is a fluent   Gaelic  speaker  

Éilís began at singing sessions in Dingle, where she and her husband run John Benny’s Pub. As a result of the melting pot of musicians and singers passing through and   settling in the area, Eiílís recorded her first CD Time to Sail in 2000, with guitarist  William Coulter,  to widespread critical acclaim. This was followed by One Sweet Kiss and by many more recordings.  In  2007, along with composer Shaun Davey, Rita Connolly, Seamus Begley, Jim Murray, Eoin O Beaglaoich & Dáithí Ó Sé, she was part of Béal Tuinne, a 15-song cycle, based on her own father Caoimhín Ó Cinnéide’s poems and set to original music by Shaun Davey.  This experience was a pivotal one for Eilís, leading to many opportunities working with these world-renowned musicians and singers.  The common thread was a sense of place and a pride in the undeniable magic of the music and singing in West Kerry.

Éilís formed Lumiere with fellow West Kerry musician Pauline Scanlon in 2009, on discovering a shared interest in and love of song and the experience of duo singing.  Together they have recorded two albums : Lumiere and My Dearest Dear and have toured  Ireland,  Australia, the US, and  Europe.   They were the subject of a documentary Ar Thóir an Cheóil and have received much praise for their spirited  performances  worldwide, from Dublin’s National Concert Hall to London’s Barbican, from Melbourne Recital Hall to Carnegie Hall in New York.

Eilís has just completed her third solo recording Westwardwith her friend and Grammy award-winning guitarist William Coulter. Éilís’ love of teaching, also passed on from her family, have led to many opportunities to share her gifts in workshops in Ireland and in the USA.

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Nolan Ladewski – Flute & Whistle (Fundamentals)

Nolan LadewskiReturning instructor Nolan Ladewski began to learn the tin whistle at 6 years old with his uncle and took up the flute at age 15. He has continued to improve his craft through the study of his favorite musicians and recordings and attended workshops in Ireland in 2000 and 2003-2004.  In 2007 he attended workshops in England with tin whistle master Brian Finnegan. Nolan has also had great fortune to receive advice, tips, and lessons over the years from great flute and whistle players like Paddy Keenan, Christy Barry, Tom Doorley, Tyler Duncan, Kevin Crawford and Laurence Nugent.

Nolan was a regular competitor on the whistle at the Comhaltas Midwest Regional Fleadh throughout his youth, and competed in the All Ireland Fleadh in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 2000. Most recently he took gold in senior tin whistle at the 2014 Midwest Regional Fleadh in St. Louis, MO.

Nolan started to play professionally at age 12 with the group Kennedy’s Kitchen from South Bend, IN, performing concerts and festivals throughout the midwestern and eastern United States. Over the years has added the guitar, bodhran and vocals to his musical repertoire. He has recorded five albums with Kennedy’s Kitchen, as well as a duo recording with fiddle player Sean Hoffman in 2012.  In 2016 he recorded an album with the group Soltre. He resides now in Virginia and is in his third year touring with Irish-Americana group Scythian.


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Brian Miller – Bouzouki (All Levels)

Brian MillerBrian Miller fell in love with Irish traditional music 20 years ago and has since become one of the most sought-after accompanists in North America’s Irish music scene. He plays bouzouki and guitar with many groups, including the acclaimed Chicago-based band Bua and The Lost Forty.

 In addition to tune backing, Brian has worked for years to develop a complementary and colorful approach to backing traditional singing, especially on bouzouki.  Brian has taught Irish music accompaniment at St. Paul, Minnesota’s Center for Irish Music since 2006 and at several teaching weeks around the U.S. and Canada.

 

 


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Niamh Ní Charra – Fiddle (Intermediate)

Niamh Ni CharraNiamh Ní Charra, who hails from Killarney, County Kerry, started playing music at the age of four. A multiple award winner on both fiddle and concertina, she toured from 1998 to 2006 as a soloist with Riverdance, before returning to Ireland where she is now based. She tours extensively with her own band, and regularly guests with other international artists.

She was awarded "Female Musician of the Year 2014" in the Live Ireland Music Awards and has released four albums to date, all of which have received great critical and popular acclaim - the latest, Cuz, was awarded “Instrumental Album of the Year” in the Chicago’s TIR awards. All four albums feature compositions of Niamh’s alongside traditional Irish music and song. Her music is featured on the programme “Ireland in Song,” which aired both on Aer Lingus transatlantic flights, and on America’s PBS.

Along with touring extensively as a solo artist and with her own band, Niamh has also performed and recorded with The Chieftains, and with Spanish Sony artist Carlos Núñez. In 2011 she released an album The Basque Irish Connection in collaboration with Basque musician Ibon Koteron. She still performs occasionally with Riverdance, most recently for a tour of China, where she took on the additional role of musical director. Niamh regularly gives workshops and masterclasses on both fiddle and concertina, is a respected music adjudicator, has performed for several presidents and members of royalty, and has additionally coordinated concerts hosted by the Irish Embassy, on behalf of the government.


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Liam O'Connor – Fiddle (Intermediate)

Liam O'ConnorLiam O’Connor, one of Ireland’s leading fiddle players, was born into a musical family in Dublin. During his youth, Liam was taught by Séamus Glackin. By age 15 he had won five All Ireland fiddle championships and later added junior and senior  Oireachtas fiddle competitions. He also completed all eight grades in classical violin training in the DIT College of Music, Dublin. In addition to performing as a soloist from a young age, in his teenage years he was also invited to perform in duet with established masters such as uillleann piper Liam O'Flynn and concertina legend Noel Hill.

He was awarded TG4 Young Musician of the Year in 2002. At the time, Liam was described in the Irish Times as "Possibly one of the most exciting fiddle players on the music scene since the emergence of Sean Keane and Frankie Gavin more than 30 years ago.”

In  2006 Liam and Sean were awarded a bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland under their DEIS scheme where the archiving and recording of the transmission of the tradition from older masters to younger musicians was central. 
  
In 2009, Liam released a critically acclaimed CD Dublin Made Mewith uilleann piper Seán McKeon which was described as “Exceptional musicians who marry technical prowess with a marvellous sense of adventure and history” (Irish Times).

In 2009, he secured first-class honours in a graduate diploma in Irish Folklore in the UCD Delargy Centre for Irish Folklore and Linguistics and the National Folklore Collection. He has taught as a guest teacher on undergraduate and post-graduate courses at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, Limerick, and in DIT, DKIT and UCD. He has also taught and performed at numerous Irish and international music festivals. He has served as a board member on the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Selection Panel, on the board of the Irish Traditional Music Archive and as honorary secretary of An Cumann le Béaloideas Éireann/The Folklore of Ireland Society.

In 2017 Liam released The Loom, a solo album that received five-star ratings and rave reviews and was voted “Trad Album of the Year” by The Irish Times.

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Máirtín O'Connor – Button Accordion (All Levels)

Máirtín O'Connor Máirtín O'Connor began playing the accordion at the age of 9, and his remarkable career has seen him as a member of many of traditional music's leading groups including, Midnight Well, De Danann, The Boys of the Lough, and Skylark. His first solo album, A Connachtman's Rambles, established him as a solo musician and proved a major critical success. The album remained in the British Folk charts for a considerable period. Máirtín's second solo album Perpetual Motion, released in 1990, is one of the best accordion albums ever produced by an Irish artist and displays his astounding skill, dexterity and versatility to the full. The release in 1993 of his Chatterbox album gave further evidence of his outstanding technique, imagination and compositional talent.

Máirtín's infectious and irresistible style and constantly growing status has kept him very busy not only with live concerts but also as a session musician on recordings by many national and international musicians such as Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello, Mark Knofler, Tanita Tikaram, Townes Van Zandt, Chieftains, the Dubliners, Davy Spillane, Maire Brennan, and the Waterboys.

Máirtín also played on the very prestigious Paris Mussette (vol 2) a series of records chronicling the history of the mussette, featuring top French accordion players which is included in the Phonographic History of French accordion Music. As a soloist he has performed with the RTE Concert Orchestra on Bill Whelan's Seville Suite and in 1995 he played a major role in Riverdance. He has also worked on the music for Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

Also in 1995 Máirtín became the first recipient of the Allied Irish Banks Traditional Musician of the Year award.

The Road West, his fourth solo album, features thirteen of his most recent compositions including the title track “The Road West.”  He has also performed and recorded with Seamie O’Dowd and Cathal Hayden on the album Crossroads..

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Seamie O'Dowd – Guitar (All Levels)

Seamie O'DowdSeamie O’Dowd, a native of Maugheraboy in Sligo Town, is the son of noted Irish musicians Sheila O'Dowd (nee. Regan) and fiddle player Joe O’Dowd, both from the Irish music stronghold of South County Sligo.  Both parents were a strong influence on Seamie’s musical development.

Growing up, Seamie began attending Irish music competitions and music sessions where he made contact with and learned from other musicians. Among those musicians were a young accordion player called Shane Mitchell and a tin whistle and accordion player called Liam Kelly.

A few years later Seamie and his father Joe were regulars at the music sessions in the Trades Club, which brought him into contact with musicians from all over the world as well as locals such as Verona and Johnny Henry, John Joe Gardiner, P.J. Hernon, Carmel Gunning, Fred Finn and Peter Horan. A group of Californian musicians living in Sligo, called Pumpkinhead, exposed Seamie to Appalachian and  American folk. 

Seamie O'Dowd was noted for playing the mandolin, fiddle, and bodhran but it was through the guitar that he started to explore his interest in rock and blues. Sligo's diverse music scene enabled him to get involved with musicians from electric rock, acoustic bluegrass or country blues.

In the late 80's he began to play some in traditional Irish ceilis with Shane Mitchell, Liam Kelly, Brian McDonagh and Michael Holmes.  He and fellow Sligo guitarist/singer Gerry Grennan then formed a duo that played bluegrass, Irish traditional and ragtime to blues and acoustic rock. They toured Ireland and Germany, sometimes as a trio with a mandolin/guitar player from county Roscommon called Brendan Emmett.

Seamie spent the mid 90's playing gigs mainly around Sligo and the North West of Ireland, including performing with Cathy Jordan. He learned to play the harmonica by this time and began to play more traditional Irish music. He joined a Celtic rock band called The D.T.'s, an energetic but short-lived band that took Sligo by storm with the piping of Jarlath McTiernan backed with a powerful electric band.  After the D.T.’s disbanded, Seamie joined Dervish on fiddle, guitar, and harmonica.  He subsequently pursued a solo career and most recently has joined forces with Máirtín O’Connor and Cathal Hayden.

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Jerry O'Sullivan – Uilleann Pipes (All Levels)

Jerry O'SullivanJerry O'Sullivan has been widely hailed as America's premier uilleann piper. His reputation for technical and melodic mastery of the instrument is unsurpassed in the United States, and is demanding considerable attention overseas. Jerry is also widely recorded on the tin whistle, the low whistle, the highland pipes and the Scottish smallpipes.

Born in New York City to an Irish-American mother and a father from Dublin, Ireland, Jerry first learned to play the Scottish highland pipes. During summer visits to family in Dublin, he learned the uilleann pipes from listening and asking questions to experienced players such as Peter Carberry, Matt Kiernan, Dan Dowd, Peter McKenna, Fergus Finnegan, Mick O'Brien, Gay McKeon, and others. In New York, uilleann piper Bill Ochs was a major help and inspiration to Jerry.

Jerry has appeared on more than 90 albums and has performed or recorded with artists such as The Boston Pops, Don Henley, Paul Winter, James Galway, Dolly Parton, The Colorado Symphony Orchestra, The Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Eileen Ivers, and many others. He was a featured soloist on Paul Winter's GRAMMY winning album, Celtic Solstice (Living Music, 1999). His first two solo albums, The Gift (Shanachie,1998), and The Invasion (Green Linnet, 1987) have both received critical acclaim, quickly finding their way to the top of a number of "best albums of the year" lists. Jerry has released a solo album, O'Sullivan Meets O'Farrell (Jerry O'Sullivan Music, 2005), which features music from the 200-year-old O'Farrell tutor and tune collections. Most recently he has released the much anticipated O'Sullivan Meets O'Farrell (Volume II.) ( Jerry O'Sullivan Music 2010.)

Jerry has also recorded a number of film soundtracks including From Shore to Shore, The Long Journey Home, Far and Away, Africans in America, and Out of Ireland, and has appeared on numerous television commercials.

Jerry has toured extensively in the United States and Europe and has even played as far afield as Japan and Israel. He has been a featured performer and instructor in numerous Folk Festivals, including: the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Milwaukee Irish Festival, the Catskills Irish Arts Week in East Durham, Boston's Gaelic Roots Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the National Council for Traditional Arts National Folk Festival, and the Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, North Carolina. He has performed at such reputable venues as New York's Lincoln Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and on the mall in Washington D.C. 

In 2007 he was honored to participate in the Dedication of the new Na Piobairi Uilleann (NPU) headquarters in Dublin. More recently he was a guest performer at the 2009 William Kennedy Music Festival in Armagh and was invited to participate at the 2010 Annual Willy Clancy Summer School in Miltown-Malbay, Ireland. Following that was invited back as a guest instructor and performer at the Celtic Irish Arts Week in East Durham, New York.

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Pete Strickler – Mandolin/Tenor Banjo (Fundamentals)

Pete StricklerHaving spent his entire adult life being involved in music, from playing and promoting, to teaching, Pete Strickler finally found exactly what he was looking for when he was first introduced to Irish Traditional Music in his 30s.

Pete's early years playing Irish traditional music were under the tutelage of both Matt and Shannon Heaton.  In 2006, he took over the reins of the Small Circle Tune Learning Session in Colorado (originally founded by the Heatons), and helped continue its legacy as a popular conduit for introducing people to the world of Irish traditional music. He still teaches the learning session weekly, as well as giving private lessons to banjo students both online and out of his home in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, and at festivals around the U.S.

Pete has played in several bands in Colorado, including Ask My Father, Maggie's Favourite, and Down The Back Lane.  He has performed with the likes of John Carty, Tony DeMarco, Brian Conway, Marla Fibish, and Matt and Shannon Heaton.

In 2016, Pete released his debut solo album, Giotár, along with accompanist Charlie Branch. The album primarily features Pete’s tenor guitar playing, along with healthy doses of both tenor banjo and mandolin. The album has been well received, and has been featured on radio programs in both the U.S. and Ireland.

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Jack Talty – Anglo Concertina (All Levels)

Jack TaltyJack Talty is a traditional musician, composer, producer, and educator from Lissycasey in County Clare. As a performer Jack has travelled extensively throughout Europe, the United States, Australia, and Asia, and has contributed to over 50 albums to date as a musician, producer, composer, arranger, and engineer. A regular contributor to traditional music programmes on television and radio, Jack has worked with many legendary Irish musicians.

In 2011 Jack released the critically acclaimed Na Fir Bolg with fellow concertina player Cormac Begley on his own Raelach Records label, and also formed Ensemble Ériu with double bass and flute player Neil O’ Loghlen. The band’s eponymous debut album, released by Raelach Records in October 2013 was described by Jim Carroll of the Irish Times as “one of the best Irish albums of 2013”. In January 2015, Ensemble Ériu were announced as winners of the prestigious Gradam Comharcheol TG4 (musical collaboration award presented by Ireland's national Irish language broadcaster). Since 2013 Jack has also performed as a section leader with Dave Flynn’s Irish Memory Orchestra.

A Licentiate of the London College of Music, and a BA and BMus graduate of University College Cork, Jack has been awarded the Mary V. Hart Memorial Award, The Seán Ó Riada Memorial Award, a University College Cork Societies Guild Bene Merenti award, and a University College Cork Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann award. In 2009 Jack completed an MA in Music Technology at the University of Limerick.

In 2013 Jack was awarded the prestigious Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Award by the Irish Research Council for ongoing PhD research at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.  Jack’s most recent publication is a chapter contribution to College Music Curricula for a New Century.   An experienced educator, Jack has taught at numerous festivals and also teaches regularly at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick. Jack is currently the Education Officer with ICTM Ireland and is editor of Spéis, ICTM Ireland's newsletter.

In November 2016, Jack released his debut solo concertina album, In Flow on Raelach Records.

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OTHER INSTRUCTORS & WORKSHOP PRESENTERS


Erica Braverman – Youth Education and Engagement in Irish Music Roundtable

Erica BravermanErica Braverman is a traditional percussive dancer and concertina player living in Austin, TX. She is also a K-12 teacher with extensive experience in out of school time education. Erica was fortunate enough to travel to Ireland in 2015 where she attended the Blás summer school and Willie Clancy week and began to study the social and emotional development of children studying Irish music and dance. Her article on the importance of peer relationships for young traditional musicians was published in the Journal of the Vernacular Music Center at Texas Tech University.

 

 

 


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Chris Buckley – Melody Player for Guitar Classes

Chris BuckleyChris Buckley grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and began studying the violin at the ripe young age of three through the Suzuki method. He was introduced to Irish music as a teenager, and his Irish music roots developed under the tutelage of renowned fiddlers Martin Dowling, Liz Carroll, Brendan Mulvihill and James Kelly.

Christopher has received numerous awards and recognitions for his outstanding achievements in Irish music and has performed at festivals and in venues across Europe and the United States. After finishing a performance degree at the University of Minnesota, he came to Austin in 2001 to pursue his Master's of Musical Arts degree at the University of Texas. During his time in Austin, Christopher has been a member of and recorded with Cluan, Blaggards, the Tea Merchants, and currently, The Here and Now, www.thehereandnowmusicatx.com. Teaching has become a passion for him and he maintains a large studio in Austin to go along with a very busy performance schedule.

 

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Heather Carmichael – Methods to Ease the Pains of Irish Music

Heather CarmichaelHeather Carmichael is a massage therapist in Allen, TX. At the age of 7 years old Heather became interested in massage therapy, which only grew as she got older. As a musician herself, Heather’s primary focus in massage school was studying musicians’ injuries, with particular interest in trigger point therapy, injury & rehabilitation massage, and hydrotherapy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clare Cason – So Many Tunes - Where Should I Start?

Clare CasonClare Cason began violin studies at the age of 4, having been born into a family of musicians. She attended the University of North Texas, where she was chosen as Outstanding Undergraduate in Music. Presently she holds leadership positions in the Sherman Symphony, East Texas Symphony, and the Dallas Bach Society.

She became interested in Celtic music as a teenager through the recordings of Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser, and since then has had the opportunity to study with several well-known fiddle players including Matt Cranitch and John McEvoy. Clare has taught Irish fiddle at both the O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat and the O’Flaherty Irish Music Youth Camp, and plays regularly with the Dallas-area performing group known as the Trinity Hall Session Players. She also serves as director of the O'Flaherty Irish Music Youth Camp, and music director of the North Texas School of Irish Music.

 

 


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Paul Dryer – Irish Tunes on Harmonica

Paul DryerGuitarist Paul Dryer is no stranger to diverse music styles. Over the past 40 years, Paul has played in jazz, bluegrass, rock and gospel bands and numerous vocal groups.  Originally from Kentucky, Paul has lived in the Dallas area since the early 1960's.  He also plays mandolin, banjo, harmonica, whistle and Irish flute with the Dallas band 5 Second Rule, and appears regularly with the TIMES Band & Session Players. He is currently president of the Traditional Irish Music Education Society (TIMES) and manages its products booth at the retreat and area festivals. He teaches both guitar and mandolin at the North Texas School of Irish Music and has taught guitar at the O'Flaherty Irish Music Youth Camp..

 

 

 

 

 

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Judson Heartsill -- Tune Swap

Judd HeartsillJudson Heartsill was inspired to take up button accordion in 1997 after hearing the incomparable Jackie Daly play live with Patrick Street. He has recorded three albums with his friends from Houston's Irish Traditional band, "The Jig is UP", and also particularly enjoys playing for set dancers. He is really grateful to play with the wonderful Irish musicians around the state of Texas, and grateful for the new generation of musicians coming up.

Judd plays in C#/D tuning. He advocates that box players should copy fiddlers, and that fiddlers should copy pipers. He advocates that everybody should copy harpists. He believes Joe Cooley is fairly correct in saying that "Irish music... is the only music that brings people to their senses" (although in secret Judd sometimes comes to his senses while listening to Thelonious Monk).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Emily Furillo – Ceili Dance Workshops AND Sean-nós Dance Workshop

Emily FurilloEmily Furillo is a performer and teacher of traditional Irish dance with over 17 years of experience in a variety of Irish and percussive styles. She was initially trained in competitive step dance where she had a successful seven-year course. After her time competing, Emily was introduced to the social side of Irish dance to include sets, céilí and sean-nós (“old style”) dances. She quickly picked up the percussive movements of sean-nós and hasn’t stopped since. Her dance repertoire extends from Ireland to include Quebecois step dance, French waltz clog, and flatfooting which bring a remarkable blend of percussive expression to her dancing.

Emily has performed and choreographed original work for the theatrical show, Dancing at the Crossroads: A Celebration of Anglo-Celtic and African American Dance in the New World” She was a lead dancer cast as the dance master and sean-nós dancer. Emily has also collaborated with The Here & Now, Celjun and The Jig is Up as well as performed alongside the Grammy-winning group, The Chieftains.

In addition to performing, Emily has taught dance for 13 years for groups and in private settings. She currently teaches traditional sean-nós dance at Ballet Austin where the course is so popular they offer three levels. Emily’s classes are engaging and holistic as she approaches Irish dance through the lens of tradition, individuality and musicality.

Emily is also a founding member of the Irish Set Dancers of Austin and is the current dance reporter for the Southwest Celtic Music Association.

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Therese Honey – O'Carolan Tunes Played Slowly

Therese HoneyTherese Honey’s childhood fascination with the harp blossomed into an exciting and successful career as a full-time harpist, recording artist and teacher.

She has performed as solo harpist with the Chieftains, has been featured at the Chicago Irish Festival, the Milwaukee Irish Festival, the annual Carolan Festival in Keadue, Co. Roscommon, in addition to the North Texas Irish Festival, O'Flaherty's Irish Music Retreat, the San Antonio Highland Games, and the Sherwood Celtic Music Festival. She is a two time first-place winner of the Gulf Coast Celtic Harp Competition.

A Waterbug recording artist, Ms. Honey has released five solo recordings and has published several books of harp arrangements of traditional music.

Her recent recording, “Summer End”, received rave reviews. Chris Spector, writing in the Midwest Record, said, "This solo Celtic harpist, whose chops have taken her all the way to performances with The Chieftains, gets so into the music you feel this is harp music like you’ve never heard it. Honey goes well above and beyond making this more of an experience than a record. Honey could single handedly usher in a new era of contemporary acoustic music that does not need any flag waving genre banners to herald the arrival. Killer stuff throughout.”

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Matthew Lewis – Arranging Traditional Irish Songs 101 with Diehl Moran

Diehl MoranMatthew Lewis, a founding member of The Jig is Up! and Ceol Na Croi, is an accomplished musician whose traditional, high energy playing has made him a highly-sought-after musician from the Houston area. He is proficient at guitar, flute, whistle, button accordion and has been known to sing an occasional song. Matt’s deep love and respect for traditional Irish music can be felt in his playing.  Although he enjoys several different regional styles of Irish music, Matt has been most influenced by the music and musicians of west Kerry.

 

 

 

 



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John Liestman – Retreat Tunes Played Slowly & Instrument Petting Zoo

John LiestmanJohn Liestman has been playing Irish traditional music on the tenor banjo, mandolin, and uilleann pipes for over 30 years. He taught mandolin in 2011, 2012 and 2015 at the prestigious O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, at the 2015 St Louis Tionol, and is an instructor with the Houston School of Irish Music.

Over the years he has been a member of Terry and the Pirates, Claddagh (featuring Olcan Masterson), Fish and Chips, and the Texas Chainsaw Ceili Band, and is the loudest mandolinist in the Houston Irish sessions. John also plays the uilleann pipes, with which he opened the 2009 Houston International Festival (celebrating Ireland) and played for the Mayor’s Black Tie Gala while various Irish and American dignitaries sipped their tea. He incorporates his own piping experience and the sounds of fiddles, harps and banjos into his mandolin and tenor banjo playing at every opportunity.


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Tom Lockney – Focus Your Tune Practice with Ian Varley

Tom LockneyTom Lockney is a native of Wisconsin who came to UT, Austin to get warm in the 60s and then, as Karma would dictate, was punished by 39 years as a college teacher at the University of North Dakota. His music started with guitar and he was a member of the top bluegrass band in ND in the 70s (the other one wasn't very good).

He fell in love with Irish dance music in the 80s, starting with tenor banjo and then deciding fiddle tunes were better on the fiddle, adding that in late middle age. He is a founding member of the Twin Cities Ceili Band and has taught banjo at the Center for Irish Music in St. Paul. For the past 3 years, he as become a snowbird wintering in Austin.  He enjoys sessions and playing for dancers in both Texas and Minnesota.

 

 


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Dirk Mewes – Reed Making for Uilleann Pipes

Dirk MewesDirk Mewes works full time making uilleann pipes from his home workshop in Berthoud, Colorado.   Dirk learned to make reeds by visiting and studying with different uilleann pipe makers around the world, including Cillian O’Briain, David Quinn, Tim Britton, and Benedict Koehler.  Between playing the pipes in Colorado, and travelling all over, he now specializes in making reeds that travel well, and can be played in climates as varied as the high Colorado mountains, rainy Ireland, and humid New Orleans.

In addition to teaching reed-making workshops at various Irish music festivals, such as Spanish Peaks, O’Flaherty’s, and Zoukfest, Dirk enjoys performing and recording with his friends in several bands at various festivals in Colorado.   This March, he appeared as the guest soloist with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra's performance of Shaun Davey's composition, "The Brendan Voyage."  He also enjoys teaching up-and-coming pipers to play the instrument, and dropping in at the local pub for some session tunes with many of the same friends. 

 

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Diehl Moran – Arranging Traditional Irish Songs 101 with Matthew Lewis

Diehl Moran is an exceptional multi-instrumentalist from Houston, TX. Since 1990, he has performed many genres, from classical, Eastern European folk, to American fiddle, and even some rock. Throughout these years, Diehl has continued to play and love Traditional Irish Music. He is a founding member of The Jig is Up! where he plays fiddle, tenor banjo and a multitude other stringed instruments. Currently, he teaches violin at Mark Twain Elementary School and Xavier Academy. Along with offering private lessons, Diehl Moran is a leader of the Houston School for Irish music.

 

 

 

 

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Melinda Standefer – Singers' Voice Lab

????Melinda Standefer attended Southern Methodist University for her undergraduate degree and studied vocal performance with Thomas Hayward. She attended Boston Conservatory of Music for her graduate work and studied with Elisabeth Phinney. Currently, Melinda sings with the Dallas Symphony Chorus and is the director of the kindergarten choir at her church. She enjoys Irish music and has attended festivals in both Dallas and Boston for over 20 years. Previously, Melinda has enjoyed teaching at the O’Flaherty retreat and looks forward to returning this year. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kenny Tweedy – Retreat Tunes Played Slowly

Kenny TweedyKenny Tweedy was born in Boston of Scotch-Irish ancestry. Kenny rediscovered his Scottish roots while living in Scotland in the 90s. Upon repatriating to the states, he found himself dissatisfied with contemporary popular music. Kenny found his calling when he started playing Irish traditional dance music in the new millennium. For the past 18 years, Kenny has been anchoring sessions around Austin, performing on St. Patricks’ day, and playing for dancers. Kenny is best known for his vast repertoire of thousands of tunes.

These days, you will find Kenny mainly playing the button accordion. In addition to the accordion, Kenny also plays the fiddle, tenor banjo, concertina, mandolin, Uilleann pipes, whistle, guitar, bouzouki, and piano. In addition to Irish music, Kenny also plays Cajun and Quebecois music on one row button accordion and fiddle, and Old Timey and Swedish music on the fiddle.

 

 

 

 


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Ian Varley -- Focus Your Tune Practice with Tom Lockney & Understanding Traditional Irish Music Theory

Ian VarleyIan Varley is a native of New York, and has made Austin TX his home for the last ten years. His day job is writing software, but he's been a semi-professional musician since childhood, playing piano and organ in many local and touring bands over the years. A recent convert to both Piano Accordion and trad Irish music, Ian's background in the study of psychology and memory helped him learn hundreds of tunes in his first year, and he wants to show you how you can do likewise.

 

 

 

 

 


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SESSION LEADERS

 

Matthew Cook – Song Session Leader

Matt CookMatthew Cook has been singing all his life. But when the Irish genre took hold of him, the songs in his head were forever changed. Now he plays and sings Irish Music in the DFW area as much as he possibly can. He plays with Slugger's Rule and String Theory; he helps lead the Wednesday night Irish Music sessions, with the amazing Daniel Mehalko, at The Celt Irish Pub; and is also a member of the TIMES Session Players.  HUP!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Michelle Feldman – Slow and Intermediate Sessions Leader

Michelle FeldmanMichelle Feldman has over 20 years of Irish fiddling experience. Her driving style powers many of 5SR’s dance sets, although she is equally at home adding a wistful phrase to a ballad or spicing up a bluegrass tune. Michelle is also a songwriter and has performed with many groups in the past, including Idle Road and Gallus. She can be heard regularly on weekend afternoons with the TIMES Band & Session Players.

 

 

 

 

 

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Judd Heartsill -- Advanced Session

Judd HeartsillJudd Heartsill was inspired to take up button accordion in 1997 after hearing the incomparable Jackie Daly play live with Patrick Street. He has recorded three albums with his friends from Houston's Irish Traditional band, "The Jig is UP", and also particularly enjoys playing for set dancers. He is really grateful to play with the wonderful Irish musicians around the state of Texas, and grateful for the new generation of musicians coming up. Judd plays in C#/D tuning. He advocates that box players should copy fiddlers, and that fiddlers should copy pipers. He advocates that everybody should copy harpists. He believes Joe Cooley is fairly correct in saying that "Irish music... is the only music that brings people to their senses" (although in secret he sometimes comes to his senses while listening to Thelonious Monk).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rick Holt – Bodhrán Friendly Session

Cara WildmanTexas-based percussionist Rick Holt immersed himself in the Irish music culture after he discovered the engaging sound of the bodhran almost 20 years ago. Rick has been playing drums since he was 6 years old and earned his degree in Music Education from Troy University.  He has performed a variety of musical styles, from classical to rock and musical theater.  Recently, as a performer, composer and arranger, Rick has been exploring the boundaries of Celtic and Irish music and works to apply these insights to the bodhran.  He has traveled to Ireland to study bodhran with some of the top players in the world and afterward enjoyed participating in local sessions around the country.

Rick has been involved in the Irish music community in North Texas since 2003, performing with area artists in bands and sessions and recording with local Irish musicians. He has served as a board member of the Traditional Irish Music Educator's Society and for over a decade was on the staff of the O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat. He has been teaching bodhran privately and with the North Texas School of Irish Music and the O'Flaherty Irish Music Youth Camp.

 

 

 

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Therese Honey – Harp Session

Therese HoneyTherese Honey’s childhood fascination with the harp blossomed into an exciting and successful career as a full-time harpist, recording artist and teacher.

She has performed as solo harpist with the Chieftains, has been featured at the Chicago Irish Festival, the Milwaukee Irish Festival, the annual Carolan Festival in Keadue, Co. Roscommon, in addition to the North Texas Irish Festival, O'Flaherty's Irish Music Retreat, the San Antonio Highland Games, and the Sherwood Celtic Music Festival. She is a two time first-place winner of the Gulf Coast Celtic Harp Competition.

A Waterbug recording artist, Ms. Honey has released five solo recordings and has published several books of harp arrangements of traditional music.

Her recent recording, “Summer End”, received rave reviews. Chris Spector, writing in the Midwest Record, said, "This solo Celtic harpist, whose chops have taken her all the way to performances with The Chieftains, gets so into the music you feel this is harp music like you’ve never heard it. Honey goes well above and beyond making this more of an experience than a record. Honey could single handedly usher in a new era of contemporary acoustic music that does not need any flag waving genre banners to herald the arrival. Killer stuff throughout.”

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John Liestman – Slow Session Leader

John LiestmanJohn Liestman has been playing Irish traditional music on the tenor banjo, mandolin, and uilleann pipes for over 30 years. He taught mandolin in 2011, 2012 and 2015 at the prestigious O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, at the 2015 St Louis Tionol, and is an instructor with the Houston School of Irish Music.

Over the years he has been a member of Terry and the Pirates, Claddagh (featuring Olcan Masterson), Fish and Chips, and the Texas Chainsaw Ceili Band, and is the loudest mandolinist in the Houston Irish sessions. John also plays the uilleann pipes, with which he opened the 2009 Houston International Festival (celebrating Ireland) and played for the Mayor’s Black Tie Gala while various Irish and American dignitaries sipped their tea. He incorporates his own piping experience and the sounds of fiddles, harps and banjos into his mandolin and tenor banjo playing at every opportunity.
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Godon McLeod – Intermediate Session Leader

Gordon McLeodGordon McLeod has been performing professionally on fiddle for over thirty years. He has a special love for traditional Irish music and has been a regular instructor of Irish fiddle workshops and classes at the O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, the O’Flaherty Irish Music Youth Camp (of which he is also the co-director) and at various festival workshops.

Gordon is a founding member of the Celtic group Beyond The Pale as well as the Celtic ensemble The Aisling String Trio and performs regularly with these groups as well as the TIMES Band & Session Players. Gordon has been associated with the Traditional Irish Music Education Society (TIMES) since its inception and is a former President of that group. He has performed throughout much of the USA as well as in Ireland and France.

Gordon has studied traditional Irish fiddling in Ireland at The University of Limerick’s Blas summer school, been a long time participant at The Willie Clancy  School of Irish Music in County Clare, Ireland and has a special interest in the Sliabh Luachra regional style of Irish music. Gordon also enjoys playing many other styles of music and on other instruments including the guitar and is a professional recording engineer and producer. 

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Diehl Moran – Intermediate Session Leader

Diehl MoranDiehl Moran is an exceptional multi-instrumentalist from Houston, TX. Since 1990, he has performed many genres, from classical, Eastern European folk, to American fiddle, and even some rock. Throughout these years, Diehl has continued to play and love Traditional Irish Music. He is a founding member of The Jig is Up! where he plays fiddle, tenor banjo and a multitude other stringed instruments. Currently, he teaches violin at Mark Twain Elementary School and Xavier Academy. Along with offering private lessons, Diehl Moran is a leader of the Houston School for Irish music.

 

 

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Linda Relph – Advanced Session Leader

Linda RelphLinda Relph has been in the Texas Irish music scene since she relocated from California to Texas in the early 90s. Her background includes Texas style contest fiddling (she was the California State Ladies Champion four times), Celtic Rock (she was a founding member of The Killdares), and, with her former band Nine-8ths Irish, was a forerunner of the popular “Green-Grass” movement (bluegrass & Irish). 
She's hosted Irish style sessions in both Texas and California, has been writing her own tunes for years, and is equally at home on stage with electric guitars, bass and drums as she is in a session at the local pub. Her solo CD, released in March 2014, includes a bit of everything, including a classical piece. Linda's fiddling is quite in demand, and on her website (www.fiddlinda.com), she calls herself a "Mercenary Fiddler." She is a currently a member of STRING THEORY IRISH, JIGGERNAUT, and is very much an on-demand player with other Dallas/Fort Worth groups, as well as being a regular member of the TIMES Band & Session Players.

 

 

 

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Robert Shaddox – Song Session Leader

?????Robert Shaddox has been a traditional Irish musician playing bodrhan and singing in the Houston Galveston area for the last 20 years. He currently performs with the band "The Jig Is Up."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kenny Tweedy – Slow Sessions Leader

Kenny TweedyKenny Tweedy was born in Boston of Scotch-Irish ancestry. Kenny rediscovered his Scottish roots while living in Scotland in the 90s. Upon repatriating to the states, he found himself dissatisfied with contemporary popular music. Kenny found his calling when he started playing Irish traditional dance music in the new millennium. For the past 18 years, Kenny has been anchoring sessions around Austin, performing on St. Patricks’ day, and playing for dancers. Kenny is best known for his vast repertoire of thousands of tunes.

These days, you will find Kenny mainly playing the button accordion. In addition to the accordion, Kenny also plays the fiddle, tenor banjo, concertina, mandolin, Uilleann pipes, whistle, guitar, bouzouki, and piano. In addition to Irish music, Kenny also plays Cajun and Quebecois music on one row button accordion and fiddle, and Old Timey and Swedish music on the fiddle..

 

 

 

 


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Ian Varley – Intermediate Session Leader

Ian VarleyIan Varley is a native of New York, and has made Austin TX his home for the last ten years. His day job is writing software, but he's been a semi-professional musician since childhood, playing piano and organ in many local and touring bands over the years. A recent convert to both Piano Accordion and trad Irish music, Ian's background in the study of psychology and memory helped him learn hundreds of tunes in his first year, and he wants to show you how you can do likewise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CEILI BAND

Chris Buckley – Fiddle

Chris BuckleyChris Buckley grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and began studying the violin at the ripe young age of three through the Suzuki method. He was introduced to Irish music as a teenager, and his Irish music roots developed under the tutelage of renowned fiddlers Martin Dowling, Liz Carroll, Brendan Mulvihill and James Kelly.

Christopher has received numerous awards and recognitions for his outstanding achievements in Irish music and has performed at festivals and in venues across Europe and the United States. After finishing a performance degree at the University of Minnesota, he came to Austin in 2001 to pursue his Master's of Musical Arts degree at the University of Texas. During his time in Austin, Christopher has been a member of and recorded with Cluan, Blaggards, the Tea Merchants, and currently, The Here and Now, www.thehereandnowmusicatx.com. Teaching has become a passion for him and he maintains a large studio in Austin to go along with a very busy performance schedule.

 

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Daniel Mehalko

Daniel MehalkoDaniel Mehalko is a young multi instrumentalist from the Dallas Texas area.
Performing with his band Flashpoint and touring with legends such as the Brock McGuire band he has quickly established his reputation as one of the top banjo and mandolin players in the country.

Daniel has been playing music from an early age but first delved into traditional Irish music in 2009 at the age of 13. Starting on whistle and bodhran, he later picked up the banjo and mandolin, which then became his instruments of choice.

A passion for the music quickly developed and he pursued the art by studying under acclaimed instructors at teaching schools such as the Swannanoa Gathering and the O'Flaherty Retreat, having been awarded scholarships to both.

It wasn't long before he founded the band Flashpoint with his brother David and Joseph Carmichael, and with them he has recorded two albums as well as appearing as a guest on several other recordings. He has performed nationwide at festivals including the Milwaukee Irish Festival, North Texas Irish Festival and Kansas City Irish Festival, as well as sharing the stage with greats such as Liz Carroll and the Brock McGuire band. He also is a member of the TIMES Band & Session Players.

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Kendall Rogers -- Ceili Band Member

Kendall RogersKendall Rogers is a piano player with bodhrán, piano accordion, whistle and DADGAD guitar habits.  A native Kentuckian, he grew up amid the rich folk music and dance traditions there, with folk influences from the British Isles, Denmark, and North America.  He also studied classical piano, played clarinet through high school and played jazz piano in high school and college, with each new thing leaving an indelible mark on his own music.  Since college, Kendall has focused on playing for folk dance and music events across the US, and has led various folk dance band and piano workshops.  Currently living in Houston, Texas, Kendall enjoys playing with his traditional Irish band, The Jig is Up!, as well as calling or playing music for American contra dancing and English country dancing.  His love of community dancing is reflected in his playing and often colors the way he understands the world.

 


 

 

 

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