Acclaimed as “one of the great contemporary folk voices of Ireland” Tommy O’Sullivan is also a stellar guitarist who has been one of the hidden treasures of traditional Irish music for many years. He has toured throughout North America and Europe, appearing at many major venues and festivals. Tommy has always kept an active recording schedule, having recorded three albums as a member of Sliabh Notes and a duet album with Bothy Band piper Paddy Keenan as well as two solo albums Legacy and Song Ablaze.
Born in London into a family with their roots deep in the heart of the West Kerry Gaeltacht. Tommy was always a keen singer, and by the time the family moved back to their native West Kerry in 1972, he had already begun playing guitar. By his mid teens he started performing locally in Dingle. A self-taught musician, he dabbled with open guitar tunings and eventually settled into the DADGAD tuning, a trademark sound of his later recordings.
Moving back to London, Tommy took a keen interest in the English folk club scene. The influences of musicians like Barry Dransfield and Martin Simpson can be heard in his rendition of ‘The Grey Funnel Line’ which he recorded on the Sliabh Notes album Along Blackwater’s Banks in 2003. In the spring of ’86 he travelled to the U.S. with fiddle player Tommy McCarthy.They performed as ‘in-flight entertainers’ for Virgin Atlantic airlines, a feat that prompted a headline in the evening press proclaiming “The First Ceili at 5000 Feet!”
Tommy has also toured or performed with “Ashplant”, a Copenhagen-based band with Danish and Irish members. Ashplant regularly toured and played at festivals all over Scandinavia. Returning to Ireland in 1992, he released his acclaimed debut album Legacy featuring Matt Cranitch and Steve Cooney.
Shortly after the release of Legacy, Matt,Tommy and box player Donal Murphy formed “Sliabh Notes.” In 1997, Tommy also began touring regularly with ex-Bothy Band virtuoso piper Paddy Keenan. Having featured on Paddy’s solo album Na Keen Affair,Tommy booked a sellout tour of Ireland for the duo. They later went on to record the much acclaimed album The Long Grazing Acre which was released on the Compass label in 2003.The pair continue to tour and appear at festivals worldwide. Song Ablaze, Tommy’s long overdue second solo album recorded in 2006 is an ambitious project including both traditional and contemporary Irish and American songs performed by international music greats on both sides of the Atlantic.
Tommy and his wife Saundra whom he met at the O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat when he last taught in 2007 live in Dingle where they operate one of Ireland’s top live music pubs — the “O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub.” They also tour as a duo regularly in the U.S.
Instructor – Guitar