Groups

Welcome to the groups section. Please feel free to browse through our list of groups. The list is arranged alphabetically.

Afro Celt Sound System - Formed in the mid 1990s, this band fuses African, traditional Irish, various ethnic European sources, rock, jazz, funk and many other elements to produce a techno-driven blend that defies pigeon-holing. Irish musicians Ronan Browne, pipes, Emer Mayock, flute, Iarla ” Lion·ird and Sinead OíConnor, vocals, have played with the operation at various times.

Altan - Altan grew from a 1983 album made by MairÈad NÌ Mhaonaigh and the late Frankie Kennedy. Over the years the band grew and now comprises MairÈad NÌ Mhaonaigh on fiddle and vocals, Ciaran Tourish also on fiddle, Ciaran Curran on cittern, Dermot Byrne on accordion and Mark Kelly and Daithi Sproule alternate on guitar. Globally a very successful group, most of their repertoire is based on strong rhythmic arrangements of Donegal tunes and songs.

An˙na - An˙na were first brought together in 1987 by Michael McGlynn and most of the material on their eight albums has been written or arranged by him. Their beguiling sound of unaccompanied close-woven voices has both a strong spiritual sense and an undeniable Irishness. They became a central feature of the original Riverdance and have graced stages worldwide.

Belfast Harp Orchestra - Founded by Janet Harbison in 1992 to mark the bicentenary of the Belfast Harp Festival, the orchestra performed to much acclaim and subsequently toured extensively with The Chieftains in the USA. Released a number of albums.

The Bothy Band - The Bothy Band created ground-breaking sounds with their high energy levels, driving rhythms, innovative use of keyboards and supreme melody lines on flute, fiddle and pipes. Main members were Donal Lunny, bouzouki; TrÌona NÌ Dhomhnaill, keyboard and vocals; at various times, Paddy Glackin, Tommy Peoples and Kevin Burke, fiddle; Paddy Keenan, pipes; Matt Molloy, flute. They made three powerful and lasting albums.

CeoltÛirÌ Chualann - CeoltÛirÌ Chualann were initially brought together by Se·n ” Riada in the late 1950s to provide music for an Abbey Theatre production. Radio broadcasts, concert performances, a film soundtrack and commercial recordings heightened their popularity, culminating in their landmark live album ” Riada sa Gaiety in 1969. The members were Se·n ” Riada on harpsichord and bodhr·n, singer Se·n ” SÈ, Sean Keane, Martin Fay and John Kelly on fiddles, Paddy Maloney on uilleann pipes, Sean Potts on tin whistle, Michael Turbridy on flute, Ronnie McShane on bones ñ later replaced by Peadar Mercier, and Sonny Brogan and …amonn De BuitlÈar on accordion.

The Chieftains - The Chieftains grew from an invitation that Garech Browne extended to Paddy Moloney to record an album for his label, Claddagh Records, in 1963. Several members of CeoltÛirÌ Chualann were in the original line-up, and after various personnel changes they embarked on a full time career from 1975. From 1979 on the members were Moloney, Sean Keane and Martin Fay on fiddles, Matt Molloy on flute, Derek Bell on harp and Kevin Conneff, bodhr·n and vocals.

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem - A ballad group who found huge success in the late 50s and early 60s, especially in North America. Tipperary brothers Tom, Paddy and Liam Clancy, and Armagh-born Tommy Makem sported trademark Aran sweaters everywhere from US coast to coast television shows to Carnegie Hall.

Clannad - Clannad comprised members of the Brennan and Duggan families from West Donegal. Formed in 1970, their music, with its unique blend of synthesised sound, soft-rock pulse and traditional Donegal Irish-language song, soon became popular throughout Europe. They had a major success in 1984 with Harryís Game, their signature tune for a television series.

De Danann - De Danann were one of the most significant groups of the 1970s-1990s. Alec Finn on bouzouki providing strongly-rhythmic accompaniment to Frankie Gavinís fiddle were the mainstay of the sound, augmented by many different box players, bodhran players, banjo players and singers. They had a particular penchant for American vaudeville-style songs and tunes, this perhaps driven by Gavinís interest in the 1920s USA recordings of Coleman and Morrison.

Dervish - Dervish are a Sligo-based group who first came together in 1989. They have toured extensively and successfully around the world, appearing on stages from China to Rio to Israel. They are Cathy Jordan on vocals, bodhran and bones, Tom Morrow on fiddle and viola, Shane Mitchell on accordion, Liam Kelly on flute and low whistle, SÈamus OíDowd on guitars and harmonica, Michael Holmes on bouzouki and Brian McDonagh on mandola and mandolin. Earthy vocals and innovative tune arrangements mark them out.

The Dubliners - The Dubliners, one of the original ballad groups, formed in 1962. Hugely popular in Ireland and further afield, especially in Germany, their broad appeal was possibly on account of a combination of the earthy and passionate singing of Ronnie Drew and Luke Kelly, and the instrumental excellence of Barney McKenna, banjo, and John Sheahan, fiddle.

Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band - Founded at the end of the second world war in 1945, the band have evolved from humble beginnings into one of the leading forces in the pipe band world. With many championship titles to their credit, including several world championship titles, they now attract members from all over the globe. Since 1981 their pipe major has been Richard Parkes.

The Flanagan Brothers - Joe, Louis and Mike Flanagan were a vaudeville-style act who made many records in the 1920s. The staccato melodeon playing and quirky banjo styles, combined with humorous songs, made them a very popular act.

Four Men and a Dog - Formed in 1990, they made a name for themselves with their infectious blend of traditional Irish music with a wide spectrum of other genres bleeding in, including rap, Southern rock, jazz, blues, bluegrass, polka, country swing, and even salsa. Current line-up is Gino Lupari on percussion and vocals, Donal Murphy on accordion, Cathal Hayden on fiddle, Kevin Doherty on lead vocals and Gerry OíConnor on banjo.

Horslips - One of the early Celtic-rock fusion bands, they formed in 1970 and enjoyed considerable success with a number of albums, especially The Book of Invasions ñ A Celtic Symphony, which entered the British top 40. They borrowed from traditional tunes, drew themes from Irish mythology, combining these with a rock format. The net result flamed the imagination of a young generation.

Moving Hearts - Moving Hearts was formed in 1981 by Christy Moore and Donal Lunny, and embraced elements of traditional, jazz, rock, and contemporary songs. Their live performances were legendary and their debut album entered the Irish charts at No 1. Other members were Keith Donald, saxophone; Davey Spillane, uilleann pipes; Declan Sinnott, guitar, later replaced by Anto Drennan; Eoghan Oí Neill, bass; Brian Calnan, drums, later replaced by Matt Kellaghan; Noel Eccles and Declan Masterson joined later on percussion and 2nd uilleann pipes respectively; Mick Hanly and Flo McSweeney, vocals. The band broke up in 1984.

The McPeake Family - Belfast family who combined, unusually, uilleann pipes, harp and vocals. Frank McPeake, born in 1885, was the first to play pipes, learning from John OíReilly, the blind Galway piper. Now in their fourth generation, they are well-known as teachers of traditional music in Belfast.

Na FilÌ - Na FilÌ formed in the late 1960s and comprised Tom·s ” Canainn on pipes, piano accordion and vocals, Matt Cranitch on fiddle, and Tom Barry on whistle. Recorded a number of albums for Outlet Records in Belfast.

Planxty - Planxty emerged from musicians who contributed to Christy Mooreís album Prosperous, in 1972. The original members were Moore, Donal Lunny, Liam OíFlynn and Andy Irvine, and their combined effect was hugely significant. After a few albums and a number of changes in personnel, they parted company and then reformed, though the original magic was never quite recaptured. In February 2004 the original quartet reformed to massive popular approval, performing a series of sell-out concerts in Ireland and the UK.

Skara Brae - Siblings Maighread, TrÌona and MÌche·l ” Domhnaill, and DaithÌ Sproule got together in 1972 and recorded a popular album of Gaelic songs, employing inimitable close-harmony vocals.

The Sands Family - The Sands Family hail from Co. Down first began to play together in the late 1960s. They are siblings Colum, Tommy, Anne and Ben. They have enjoyed a loyal following, especially in Germany. Colum and Tommy have both enjoyed significant solo careers and are noted songwriters and broadcasters.

The Voice Squad - A hugely popular unaccompanied singing trio, their (Phil Callery, Fran McPhail and Gerry Cullen) style of singing in harmony does not form part of the Irish singing tradition. They have individually however served their time in tradition singing before coming together to sing in harmony. They have carried with them this individual approach to the song and it is this that gives the group its unique sound.

The West Ocean String Quartet - The West Ocean String Quartet formed in 1999 to explore the world in between traditional and classical music. Their music is composed and arranged from a classical quartet-writing viewpoint but enjoys traditional freedom within much of that. Their debut CD, Unwrapping Dreams, has received great critical success. They are Seamus McGuire and Niamh Crowley, violins, Kenneth Rice, viola, Neil Martin, cello.