The banjo as we know it developed in the United States from African instruments - initially a gourd being used as a resonator and hemp strings stretched across a neck. Frets were added in the late 19th century, and among early exponents in traditional music was Mike Flanagan of the famous Flanagan Brothers.

Barney McKenna, banjo-player with the popular ballad group The Dubliners has influenced many players from the 1960s onwards. Gerry O’Connor is a Tipperary banjo player considered one of the very best of his generation. Also very noteworthy is Tyrone fiddle and banjo player Cathal Hayden, a member of the group Four Men and a Dog.


The Flanagan Brothers, Barney McKenna, Gerry O’Connor and Cathal Hayden


  • The Flanagan Brothers

    Lovely Molly

  • Enda Scahill

    Black Frog / The Sanctuary

  • Gerry O'Connor

    Performs two reels, The Bag of Spuds / The Copper Plate

  • Cathal Hayden

    The Donegal Tinker / The Dublin Reel