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Scroll down for bios - 2024 workshop decriptions coming soon!

Classes and Instructors 2024

Button Accordion (All levels) - Billy McComiskey and Sean McComiskey

Fiddle (Intermediate/Advanced) - Patrick Ourceau

Fiddle (Intermediate/Advanced) - Brian Conway

Fiddle (Adv. Beginner) - Joanna Clare

Flute/Tin Whistle (Intermediate/Advanced) - Joanie Madden

Flute/Tin Whistle (Intermediate) - John Skelton

Flute/Tin Whistle (advanced beginner) - Josh Dukes

Tin Whistle (Intermediate/Advanced) - Kathleen Conneely

Tenor Banjo (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Pauline Conneely

Tenor Banjo/Mandolin (Advanced Beginner)- John Walsh

Concertina (Intermediate/advanced) - Catriona Fee

Concertina (advanced beginner) - Meghan Mette

Uilleann Pipes (All Levels) - Joey Abarta

Ensemble (all instuments) - Rose Flanagan and Brendan Dolan

Piano (all levels) - Donna Long 

Harp (all levels) - Lexie Boatright

Dropped-D Guitar (All levels) - David McKindley-Ward

DADGAD Guitar (all levels) - Sean Earnest

Bodhran (beginner/Advanced beginner) - Myron Bretholz

Bodhran (Intermediate/advanced) - Anna Colliton

Songs - Eileen Estes

Irish Social Dance - Megan Downes

Sean Nos Dance Catherine Marafino Brice

Sunday Workshops:

An Introduction to Irish Music on the Tin Whistle- Tess Hartis

Youth Fiddle Class - Tess Hartis

Song Repertoire - Eileen Estes

Joey Abarta, Uilleann Pipes
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Joey Abarta has spent more than half his life traveling, teaching, and performing music on the uilleann pipes. Originally from California, he first received instruction on the pipes from Dubliner Pat D’Arcy, a founding member of the Southern California Uilleann Pipers Club.


In August of 2009, Joey’s accomplished playing won him a second place title worldwide at the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann. In the fall of 2014 Joey won first prize at the An tOireachtas, becoming the the first American uilleann piper to do so since 1969. In 2015 Joey was honored to be a recipient of a traditional arts apprenticeship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council meaning he was awarded a grant to teach his art to the next generation. This year Joey was awarded an Artist Fellowship in the Traditional Arts from the Massachusetts Cultural Council meaning he was recognized as a bearer and conduit of a cultural tradition by his peers and the state of Massachusetts.

Currently based in Boston, Joey divides his attention between performance, teaching, and recording. In addition to performing solo, he performs with his wife, old-style step dancer Jaclyn O'Riley, Nathan Gourley of “Life is all Checkered", and has toured with Mick Moloney and the group The Green Fields of America. He is currently the acting President of the Boston Pipers Club (1908-present) and through the club organizes uilleann piping workshops and concerts for its members and public. Joey is also the president of The Patrick J. Touhey Memorial Weekend which is an annual festival focusing on historical presentations and workshops based around early American piping styles and pipers. In 2018 Joey was invited by Na Píobairí Uilleann to represent piping in America by performing for the president of Ireland at the Abbey Theater in Dublin Ireland. The concert was a part of the country's celebration of uilleann piping being recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Lexie Boatright, Harp

Lexie Boatright is a concertina and harp teacher based in the Baltimore area.  A multiple All-Ireland medalist herself, Lexie is a top teacher in the USA with regional and All-Ireland Fleadh winning students and performs with the Consequences, an American-based Irish music quartet.  Her teaching style centers around the 'how' and 'why' of harp playing in a way that empowers students of all levels and generations to take charge of and progress toward their goals even after class has ended. 

Lexie studied both harp and concertina with Gráinne Hambly of Co. Mayo, but was also largely influenced by studies with Tim Collins during his stay in NYC and in yearly summer classes with Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh.  She also studied fiddle with acclaimed NY Sligo fiddle teachers, Rose Flanagan and Brian Conway, whose iconic bowing style has shaped her own concertina fingering-system and bellows-work. 

Lexie has a Masters of Music Performance on the Cello from the University of Maryland and uses this background to bridge the classical to traditional divide many students feel coming to traditional music after already being accomplished classical players.

Myron Bretholz, Bodhran

A native and current resident of Baltimore, Maryland, Myron has lent his talents as a percussionist to more than fifty recordings of Irish, Scottish, and other folk music.  Since the late 1980's, Myron has taught bodhran and rhythm bones at many workshops throughout the United States and Canada, including Boston College's Gaelic Roots, Gaelic College in Cape Breton, the O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat in Texas, and the Catskills Irish Arts Week in East Durham, New York. In March 2000, Myron was privileged to receive a Maryland State Arts Council grant for solo instrumental performance, and he was also honored to play at the White House on four occasions in the late 1990's and early 2000's.  In addition, Myron's prodigious knowledge of the history and lore of Irish tunes has led to his being invited to contribute liner notes to a number of recordings over the past quarter century, and he is often called on to emcee at concerts and festivals as well.  Myron received early inspiration and instruction in bodhran from Jesse Winch and in rhythm bones from Karen Seime Singleton, and also counts among his influences the playing of Robin Morton, Peadar Mercier, Jim Sutherland, and Johnny McDonagh. And although not a dancer himself, Myron also draws inspiration from Irish step dancers, and he reckons that the ideal percussionist should be able to do with his or her hands what dancers do with their feet. Myron's relaxed and humorous teaching style has made him an in-demand workshop leader and instructor, and he is always willing to encourage novice players.

Catherine Marafino Brice, Dance

Catherine Marafino Brice is an Irish step dancer living in Annapolis, MD. She specializes in sean nós dance, old-style Irish step dancing, and has studied American tap dance and flatfooting. Fusing these influences together, she has created her own style of improvised percussive dance that is lively and unique.

Catherine began Irish step dancing and tap dancing as a child, and as a teenager learned from Emily Oleson and Matthew Olwell of Good Foot Dance Company.  During college, she built a small repertoire of American flat-footing and clogging steps, and learned a handful of Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island patterns from Helen Bergeron.  She also learned many of Dan Furey's set dances from Michael Tubridy. Catherine has a long love-affair with traditional steps, but she is most impressive for her ability to improvise them.  Among dancers in Washington and Baltimore, she is highly regarded for her aptness to devise new dances that are musically and choreographically entertaining.

Catherine enjoys ceili dancing and has started calling dances in the Annapolis, Baltimore, and DC region. She is a regular caller at the monthly Baltimore Family Ceili and the Annapolis Crabtown Ceili. She founded the Annapolis Ceili Club in 2023, which is a club for people to learn basic ceili dances and popular set dances in a fun and stress-free environment.

Catherine holds an MSN from Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and works as a NICU nurse in Annapolis and Baltimore.  She is the merchandise director for the New Century American Irish-Arts Company, and a past programmer for the Washington Folk Festival.  She teaches old-style Irish dancing classes at her home studio, Pendenny Studio, which she shares with her husband, Peter Brice.

Laura Byrne, Director / Flute
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Founder and Director of the Baltimore Irish Trad Fest, Laura Byrne is highly regarded on both sides of the Atlantic for her mastery of the Irish traditional flute and whistle. Laura began studying flute at age 9 in her native Vermont, continued her studies at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore where she earned Bachelor’s degrees in both flute performance and music education in 1995. Though classically trained, she chose to devote her musical career to Irish traditional music, committing herself to the playing of the older generation of musicians through her many trips to Ireland and from close study of the emigrees to the United States. Laura has performed at countless festivals, ceilis and concerts in the U.S., Canada and Ireland including venues such as the Kennedy Center, Birchmere, several National Folk Festivals and the Catskills Irish Arts Week in East Durham, NY. She performs frequently with Baltimore greats Billy McComiskey, Donna Long and Jim Eagan. Laura was featured on the Eva Cassidy remix album Wonderful World (2004). In 2014 Laura was a featured performer with the English choir Libera at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC which was released as a DVD recording and broadcast worldwide.

Laura has recorded two solo albums Tune for the Road (2005) and Lucky Day in (2010) which received great reviews, and were highly praised by Irish Music Magazine.  She is a member of The Old Bay Ceili Band which released an album Crabs in the Skillet (2011). She released a duo recording with New York based fiddler Rose Flanagan Forget Me Not (2014). Laura is a two time grant recipient of the Maryland Traditions Master Apprentice award - as a ballad singer apprentice in 2007, and then in 2011 as a Master of flute, and received the Individual Artist award in performance from the Maryland State Arts Council in both 2010 and 2011. Laura still performs occasionally, and works as a full time Realtor and co-owner of the Vesta Group of Long and Foster where she combines her non-musical passions of making things happen, central Maryland real estate, and helping others.

Joanna Clare, Fiddle
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Joanna Clare, who hails from Central New York, is a well-respected Irish fiddler and violinist and recently released her debut album, To Keep the Candle Burning. The album features NEA National Heritage Fellow Billy McComiskey, and All-Ireland champions Brian Conway and Josh Dukes, along with Myron Bretholz, Sean McComiskey, Matt Mulqueen, Catherine O’Kelly, and Liam Presser.


At the age of three, Joanna began learning classical violin through the Suzuki method at the Hochstein School in Rochester, New York, and she later studied with Maggie Mercer, Harumi Rhodes, and Peter Rovit. When she was eleven, she began studying Irish fiddle with Brian Conway who was highly instrumental in her musical development. Joanna has won many awards including five championship titles in the annual Mid-Atlantic Fleadhanna Ceoil (Irish music competitions) which are run by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (the Irish Traditional Musicians’ Association). In August 2021, she was awarded runner-up for the senior fiddle slow airs competition at the FleadhFest in Sligo, Ireland.


Joanna has performed at numerous festivals, including the Syracuse Irish Festival, the Rochester Irish Festival, the Maryland Irish Festival, the New York Trad Fest, and the Philadelphia Folk Festival.  Joanna is certified to teach violin with the Suzuki Association of the Americas and teaches Suzuki violin and Irish fiddle lessons. She also assists in teaching The Great Groove Band, a children’s pick-up band, at the Philadelphia Folk Festival.  Joanna is soon to relocate back to Baltimore where she earned her degree in materials science and engineering from Johns Hopkins University. There she will help to keep the traditional Irish arts alive through performance and pedagogy.

Anna Colliton, Bodhran

Anna Colliton’s lively and inventive playing has made her one America’s leading exponents of the bodhrán. Based in New York City, Anna has shared the stage with Cherish the Ladies, Eileen Ivers, Comas, the Paul McKenna Band and many more. Anna lived in Orlando, Florida, from 2013 to 2017 and performed daily as part of a residency at Walt Disney World. After returning to New York, Anna was a sub for the bodhrán chair with the original company of the Broadway hit “Come From Away.”

Anna has performed and taught at festivals across the country, including Catskills Irish Arts Week, The Swannanoa Gathering Celtic Week, The O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, CCE MAD Week, and Augusta Celtic Week, to name a few. As a teacher dedicated to advancing the tradition of bodhrán playing, Anna inspires students of all levels to incorporate both “the old” and “the new” into their playing, emphasizing the importance of both personal style and ear training in traditional music. 

Close to home, Anna performs Boston-based traditional music group Ship in the Clouds, as well as The Bad Neighbors Rhythm Project, a rhythm-centric collaboration with percussive dancer Danielle Enblom, and is a longtime member of the Tune Supply roster. 

Kathleen Conneely, Tin Whistle

Born in Bedford, England, to Irish parents from Galway and Longford, Kathleen began playing Irish music at age twelve, along with her siblings, Bernadette, Michael & Pauline. 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.

Over the years, Kathleen has lived in London, Dublin, Chicago & Boston, where there was always a lively traditional Irish music scene, which has helped to sustain her passion for the music. 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, and the Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, NC.

She released her first solo CD, ‘The Coming of Spring’, in 2012

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Pauline Conneely, Irish Tenor Banjo

Pauline was born in Bedford, England. The youngest of four children, she was raised by Irish parents, economic migrants who were themselves steeped in Irish Music, Dance, and Culture. Like many such Irish households in the UK and America in the 1960’s, these homes were filled with the sounds of music and dancing on a daily basis. The Conneely children were encouraged by their parents, and indeed their mentors (one of whom was Brendan Mulkere) to experiment with a variety of different instruments, with Pauline eventually electing to concentrate on the banjo- although that focus didn't stop her from becoming a Champion Irish step dancer.


Since her first visit to the USA in 1988 as a musician and dancer with Ceomhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Pauline has made her home in Chicago. She has shared the stage with, and has become close friends with, most of the well-respected Irish artists performing on the world stage today, including Liz Carroll, John Whelan, John Doyle, Daithí Sproule, The Chieftains, Cherish the ladies, Sean Keane, Mick McGoldrick, and Troy MacGillivray. In addition to performing, Pauline has also been a regular instructor at many Irish traditional music festivals including the Catskills Irish Arts Week, Irish MAD week in DC, and Baltimore Irish Trad Fest.

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Brian Conway, Fiddle
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New York born fiddler Brian Conway is a leading exponent of the highly 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 prestigious Album of the Year by the Irish Echo. Brian is also featured on the CD, My Love is in America, recorded at the 1990 Boston College Irish Fiddle Festival, and on the documentary “Shore to Shore” which highlights traditional Irish music in New York.

n 2007, Brian released a CD titled A Tribute to Andy McGann on the prestigious Irish Label Cló Iar-Chonnachta.  This CD brings together Irish Music legends Joe Burke and Felix Dolan along with Brian in a CD which has received glowing accolades since its release.  Brian followed this CD with a much anticipated new solo CD titled Consider the Source, in deference to the rich environment from which Brian learned his music. This CD was released in 2008, also on the Cló Iar-Chonnachta Label, and 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 remains faithful to the rich tradition handed down to him. The distinctness of his tone, the lift of his playing, and the deft ornamentation he brings to the tunes have placed him among the finest Irish fiddlers of any style, Sligo or otherwise. He has performed all over North America from San Francisco to New York and places in between such as Chicago, Milwaukee and Colorado. His talents have also been enthusiastically received throughout Ireland and the rest of Europe. His two solo CDs, First through the Gate and Consider the Source, both exemplify the versatility that characterizes his concert performances and festival appearances. He is also a noted instructor who has mentored many fine fiddle players, including several who have gone on to win All-Ireland championships.  He is considered one of the musical rocks of the New York area.

Brendan Dolan, Piano, Ensemble

For the past few years, Brendan has served as the permanent substitute lecturer for the “Introduction to Celtic Music” course at NYU. As archivist at NYU’s Tamiment Library, he processed the five-part Irish-American popular culture collection and provided social media outreach through museum exhibits, blog posts, theater productions and original lectures.

Brendan was also general music instructor and choral director at St. John’s Preparatory School (New York City) and at Franklin Central School (Franklin, NY), where he taught children from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. In addition to teaching general music to younger students and music electives to high school students, he directed elementary and high school choruses.

After receiving a B.A. degree in classics from Brown University, Brendan received a second B.A. in music and jazz studies from SUNY New Paltz. He received a master’s degree from New York University in Irish and Irish-American studies and an advanced certificate in archives, also from NYU. He has New York State permanent certification in vocal and general music for grades K-12.

Brendan plays piano, flute, tin whistle, drums and guitar. He enjoys hiking, swimming, cooking and listening to Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and J. S. Bach.

Megan Downes, Dance
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Megan Downes grew up dancing in New York City's traditional Irish music community before moving south to work with one of the best bluegrass bands in the country as a principal dancer with Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, directed by Eileen Carson and Mark Schatz, with Jon Glik, Danny Knicely, Matt Olwell and Kristin Andreassen. Megan is now the Artistic Director of New York's City Stompers, calling squares and teaching old-time flatfooting. You may have danced with her over the years at the Augusta Heritage Center, Watermelon Park or Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing.

Josh Dukes, Flute

Josh Dukes is an All-Ireland champion accompanist and a highly sought after music teacher in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area.  A multi-instrumentalist whose talents embrace the guitar, bouzouki, bodhran, flute, and tin whistle, Josh has established a reputation for providing sensitive, tasteful support for traditional Irish music.

As a young high school student, Josh studied the oboe, tenor/alto saxophone, drum set and baritone horn.  Outside of the classroom, he learned the art of ancient rudimental drumming under the tutelage of Dominick Cuccia, a widely respected instructor/performer in the fife and drum community. In 1997, Josh enlisted in the Army and has since earned the rank of Master Sergeant , currently serving as one of three Drum Majors for the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, "The Official Escort to the President," the only military unit of its kind.    

Josh continues to perform Irish music, having shared the stage with such renowned musicians including John Doyle, Paddy Keenan, Billy and Sean McComiskey, Brendan Mulvihill, Skip Healy, Zan McLeod, and Myron Bretholz, and he can be seen performing regularly with The Old Bay Ceili Band. Josh lives in Northern Virginia with his wife Judy and two daughters, Mya and Olivia.

Sean Earnest, DADGAD Guitar
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Guitarist and bouzouki player Seán Earnest’s empathetic and eclectic musical stylings have taken him far from his native central Pennsylvania.  He is among the most sought-after American Celtic musicians today and can be heard on stages throughout North America and beyond.  Having cut his musical teeth in the Irish music sessions of New York and Baltimore, Seán honed his guitar and bouzouki craft while studying at the University of Limerick’s Irish World Academy of Music & Dance.  Seán has been a faculty instructor for the Catskills Irish Arts Week, the O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat in Texas, the Milwaukee Irish Fest Center, as well as the Celtic College at the Celtic Roots Festival in Goderich, Ontario, and will join the staff for the 2016 Augusta Irish Week in Elkins, West Virginia.

Seán has performed with many of Irish music’s luminaries including John Carty, Billy McComiskey, Brian Conway, Kevin Burke, Damien Connolly, Dr. Mick Moloney, Joanie Madden, Kevin Crawford, Oisín Mac Diarmada, and many others.  As an accompanist, he has worked with a number of vocalists including Cathie Ryan, Seamus Begley, Colleen Raney, The Murphy Beds (comprised of Eamon O’Leary and Jefferson Hamer), Kyle Carey, as well as the international touring troupe Women of Ireland. He features on recordings by Clare accordion and fiddle player Damien Connolly as well as Baltimore flautist Laura Byrne. Seán tours regularly throughout North America and beyond with the Irish group Téada, the Paul McKenna Band from Glasgow, and his own band The Yanks, with whom he has toured Ireland and released two albums to great critical acclaim.  He is a stalwart of the NYC session scene and resides with his partner, sean-nós dancer Siobhán Butler, in Rosendale, New York.

Eileen Estes, Singing

Irish-American musician and singer Eileen Estes is a full time musician recently relocated to the East coast from Chicago.  Whether performing at home or touring, Estes has thrilled audiences for years with her extraordinary voice, which effortlessly combines vocal power with subtle emotional expressiveness. 


Eileen is a former faculty member at Blue Ridge Irish Music School, where she is still a visiting instructor, and travels to teach Master Classes in the United States and abroad. She currently works as one of the Directors of Irish Music Arts and Dance Week in Bethesda MD, is a contributing artist to the Baltimore Washington Academy of Irish Culture and is the vocal instructor for the Irish Music School of Chicago.

Daughter of Nita (Conley) Korn, Celtic Thunder’s original lead singer, Eileen grew up immersed in the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland. She is a traditional singer as well as an arranger, songwriter and song collector who has collaborated with many bands over the years. In 2015, Nita and Eileen released an album of Irish and Scottish songs called The Apple Tree Project.

Catrióna Fee, Concertina

Catrióna Fee is a concertina player from Cold Spring, New York who is currently based in Washington, D.C.  She is a triplet, the sister of Mairead Fee and Angela Fee, who play the flute and the fiddle respectively.  Having two other musicians in the house had a profound impact on her playing, leading her to emphasize the importance of playing in a group rather than focusing solely on solo playing.  She got her start on the concertina with Ann Dylan, and greatly benefitted from the local music scene in Cold Spring.  Catrióna studied concertina with Lexie Boatright and Patty Furlong, and her style is also influenced heavily by the playing of Caitlín Nic Gabhann and Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh.

Catrióna is a multiple Mid Atlantic Fleadh champion on the concertina and has competed several times in the All Ireland Fleadh.  As a youth she played in ceili band and grupa cheoil competitions in the US and Ireland with the Pearl River School of Irish Music.

Catrióna has taught concertina at the Catskills Irish Arts Week and and to individuals of all ages.  She also had the privilege of teaching the concertina to and recording with Steve Martin for the first season of the hit TV show 'Only Murders in the Building.'

Rose Flanagan, Fiddle, Ensemble 

Rose Conway Flanagan originally began Irish music lessons with Martin Mulvihill while growing up in the Bronx, and further developed her New York Sligo style of fiddling with the help of family friend and mentor Martin Wynne and her older brother Brian Conway. In 2013, Rose was inducted into the Mid Atlantic Region CCE hall of fame alongside her father Jim and her brother Brian.

She currently has a large music school in her hometown of Pearl River where she is preparing the next generation of great traditional musicians, which include several All-Ireland winners and medalists. Among Rose’s past students are all the fiddlers in Girsa and senior fiddle champion Dylan Foley.

Rose has been an instructor at the Alaska fiddle camp, The Catskills Irish Arts week, The Swannanoa Celtic Gathering, The O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, Fiddle and Pick Irish Camp, The Baltimore Trad Fest, and MAD Week in the U.S. She has also taught at the DeDanaan Dance Camp in Vancouver, British Columbia and Scoile Eigse in Cavan and Sligo, Ireland. She has taught workshops at the Northeast Tionol, Cape Cod Ceili Weekend and at various CCE conventions. In addition to her teaching, Rose runs sessions and performs bot with her group the Green Gates Ceili Band and in various concerts throughout her local area.

Rose also has a strong connection to the Baltimore area - aside from teaching at the Trad Fest, she also released a duo cd in 2014 with flute player Laura Byrne from Baltimore, “Forget Me Not”, which was met with great reviews.

Tess Hartis - Fiddle
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Tess Hartis is an Irish fiddler and classical violinist originally from South Carolina. She began her musical training at the age of eight and discovered her love of Irish traditional music in college. She has performed extensively with the South Carolina Philharmonic, Hup! Traditional Irish Band, Istanpitta Early Music Ensemble, and has made guest appearances with musical groups in various genres including Irish, Scottish, classical, old time, and more.

Tess received her degrees in Violin Performance and Music Education from the University of South Carolina, where she studied with Dr. William Terwilliger and taught at the USC String Project under the direction of Dr. Gail Barnes. From 2019-2022, Tess was the head director in a prestigious public school orchestra program in Houston, Texas, where she also maintained a private studio of fiddle and violin students. She has taught workshops in various styles of playing, and was most recently on the faculty of the 2023 O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat in Midlothian, Texas. Now living in Baltimore, Maryland, she is enjoying teaching and performing around the DMV area.

Tess cherishes the joy and community that Irish traditional music brings and strives to share this joy with her students of all ages. Her goal is to empower students by giving them a nurturing space to build skills, technique, and confidence that will allow them to enjoy Irish music to the fullest.

Donna Long, Piano
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Donna Long was born in Los Angeles, California. When she was five years old, she began taking piano lessons with her father, Byron Long, a jazz/classical pianist who instilled in Donna a love for music. As a child, Donna was exposed to many different genres of music, including players from the old and new Jazz eras, Classical, Scottish, Indian, and African.

In 1978, she moved to the Baltimore/Washington, DC area and heard fiddler, Brendan Mulvihill playing Irish music. He inspired her to pick up the fiddle and gave her a solid foundation in style and playing. She then began to accompany him on the piano and now Donna is considered one of the finest pianists playing Irish music. Along with Brendan Mulvihill, she has recorded two duet albums, The Steeplechase and The Morning Dew.

Donna passed her music on to her son Jesse Smith and helped produce his first solo recording entitled The Hurricane. In addition to these recordings Donna can be heard as a guest artist on many recordings backing up other musicians and also on the motion picture soundtrack Out of Ireland. A former member of the internationally acclaimed Irish group Cherish the Ladies, she has recorded five CDs with them. In the year 2000, the Smithsonian Institution asked Donna to represent Irish Music in the series Piano Traditions celebrating 300 years of the piano. Donna was also commissioned by the Library of Congress in 2001 to write a composition for fiddle and piano. She wrote a slow air called “Before the Snow Falls,” and a reel to accompany the air called “Pandora’s Box.” These tunes were performed by Cherish the Ladies and can be found in the Library of Congress. Donna currently teaches Suzuki piano, Irish piano, and Irish fiddle in the Baltimore/Washington, DC area. Her first solo CD, Handprints, was released in June 2003.

Joanie Madden, Flute
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Joanie Madden is internationally recognized as one of the greatest musicians and most respected personalities in the history of Irish music in America.  She has dedicated her life to promoting Irish music, song and dance around the world, and is as equally successful as a musician and composer in her solo career while serving as founder and leader of the acclaimed traditional Irish music and dance ensemble, Cherish The Ladies.

Born in New York of Irish parents and raised in a musical household, Joanie is the second oldest of seven children.  Her mother Helen hails from Miltown Malbay, County Clare and her father Joe, an All-Ireland Champion accordion player was a native of Portumna, County Galway.  At a very early age, Joanie was exposed to the finest Irish traditional music listening to her father and his friends play music at family gatherings and social events.  She began taking lessons from legendary flutist and National Heritage Award winner Jack Coen, and within a few short years, she had achieved great success winning the world championship in Irish music on both the concert flute and tin whistle. During that time, Joanie also became the first American to win the coveted Senior All-Ireland Championship on the whistle.

Joanie is the top selling whistle player in history, having sold over 500,000 solo albums.  Throughout her musical career, she has amassed a plethora of awards and citations.  Her merits include being the youngest member inducted into both the Irish-American Musicians Hall of Fame and the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Hall of Fame, she was chosen for the Wild Geese award, where she joined an impressive list of previous honorees, including: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt, Tony award winning playwright Brian Friel, Nobel prize laureate Seamus Heaney and Irish dance sensation, Michael Flatley.  She was twice voted as one of the Top 100 Irish-Americans in the United States by Irish-America Magazine and was also named Traditional Musician of the Year by the Irish Voice newspaper, all for her contributions to promoting and preserving Irish culture in the United States. In 2010, Joanie was forever immortalized on the streets of her native Bronx when a street was named after her on the Grand Concourse: “Joanie Madden and Cherish the Ladies”.  In 2011, she was bestowed one of the nation’s highest awards as she was chosen for the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, joining an illustrious list of distinguished American citizens, including six United States Presidents as well as Ambassadors, Senators, Congressmen and Supreme Court Justices, all singled out for their exemplary service to the United States.

She is equally loved for her outgoing personality and her stage persona and has been heralded by critics around the globe for her role as front woman for cherish the Ladies.  Noted folklorist, musician and scholar Dr. Mick Moloney calls Joanie, “A Character – one of the greatest you could meet in a long day’s travel” and bestowed on her the title “First Lady of Irish Music.

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Billy McComiskey, Button Accordion

Billy McComiskey, a Brooklyn native, plays in what he loosely describes as the East Galway Style of Irish accordion music. He is a protege of the late Sean McGlynn from Tynagh, Co. Galway. To this day he still plays Sean's rare 1940's vintage gray Paolo Soprani box. In the mid 1970's, before moving to Baltimore, Billy helped to establish the still thriving Irish Music Scene in Washington DC. He moved to Baltimore in 1980 with his wife, Annie, and since that time, he's helped put Irish Traditional Music on the map in Maryland.

Billy holds four All Ireland Championship titles, two (gold and silver medals) with Brendan Mulvihill for their superb duet playing, and two (silver and gold ) for his work as a soloist. Billy won the coveted All Ireland Championship for the Button Accordion in 1986. He is one of only two American box players to be so honored. His friend and student John Nolan is the first American to win this award. Billy is the second. He is the recipient of the 2011 Irish Echoes Traditional artist of the year award, and has received one of the highest honors a traditional musician can be awarded: the 2016 NEA National Heritage Fellowship.


Billy is a composer of tunes, a good few of which are played in Ireland and America alike. He's made quite a few recordings with some of the mightiest musicians playing Irish Music today, including the Irish Tradition, Trian, Green Fields of America, and the Pride of New York. He's played and performed throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, England and Scotland.

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Sean McComiskey, Button Accordion

Sean McComiskey is among the most innovative young performers on the button accordion, with a unique harmonic style that has earned him a spot in the pantheon of Irish accordionists far beyond his native Baltimore. As the son of legendary button accordion player and National Heritage Fellow Billy McComiskey, Sean has been surrounded by Irish Traditional music his entire life and has developed a deep appreciation for the rich tradition of which he is a part.

This has helped Sean establish a reputation as a highly regarded teacher and promulgator of Irish music and earned him teaching positions with the Catskills Irish Arts Week, the Augusta Heritage Center’s Irish Arts Week, the Chris Langan Traditional Irish Music Weekend in Toronto, the CCE Musical Arts and Dance (MAD) Week in Washington, DC, the Baltimore Irish Arts Center, and the Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival.


In addition to being a highly regarded teacher, Sean has performed throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. He's recorded albums and toured with groups like NicGaviskey, the Old Bay Ceili Band, and O'Malley's March.  In 2014, Sean formed the Baltimore-based acoustic roots group, Charm City Junction, with Patrick McAvinue on fiddle, Brad Kolodner on clawhammer banjo, and Alex Lacquement on upright bass. In 2015, they released their self-titled debut album and in 2016 were nominated for the International Bluegrass Music Association's Band Momentum Award.

Most recently, Sean was featured on a new recording of traditional Irish set dances for listening and dancing called Cover the Buckle. The project is in collaboration with Kieran Jordan, a dancer and choreographer based in Boston, MA. The recording features Sean Clohessy on fiddle, Matt Mulqueen on piano, Josh Dukes on guitars, and steps from Kieran. 

David McKindley-Ward, Guitar
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Award winning musician and singer, David McKindley-Ward, grew up in the DC area steeped in folk, traditional music, and protest music from all over the world. From his solid folk foundation of Pete Segeer and Stan Rogers, he found a love for Irish music from cassette tape recordings of the old folk revival balladeers from the 50s and 60s; the Clancy brothers and Tommy Makem, the Dubliners, The Wolftones, and many more. His interest in traditional singing grew when exposed to such greats as Paul Brady, Dolores Keane, and Donal Maguire, and much of his style and repertoire is based on these three. David has collaborated with Irish singers and instrumentalists Billy McComiskey, Eimear Arkins, Liz Hanley, and with Joey Abarta and Brenda Castles as The Sheep Stealers. He has recorded three albums with singer-songwriter Letitia VanSant, their latest release due this fall.


Over the last few years, he has made a name for himself as a touring artist across the US, Ireland and the UK and a regular performer and instructor at festivals including Catskills Irish Arts Week, Baltimore TradFest and The Philadelphia Céilí Group. He recently moved to the Boston area and has found a musical home amongst the fine traditional Irish musicians based there

Meghan Mette / Concertina
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Originally from Portland, Maine, Meghan Mette was raised in the rich confluence of fiddle and dance traditions in New England.  At a young age she began her journey in Irish music with her teacher, Seamus Connolly, learning techniques influenced by Connolly's Clare style as well as stylistic inputs from many of Seamus' world renowned friends and musical colleagues.  Meghan had the opportunity to join Seamus on some of his tours in New England and Ireland, participating in high profile festivals such as the Gaelic Roots series and the Hughie Gillespie Festival.  She collaborated on Connolly's book and music collection, contributing her own compositions as well as recording some of Seamus' original works.

As a young woman, Meghan attended University College Cork in Ireland, where she studied Irish traditional music with Matt Cranitch, Connie O'Connell, and Geraldine O'Callaghan. She became immersed in the Cork and Kerry styles, and had the opportunity to perform (and dance) at the Cork Opera House alongside the likes of Tara Breen and Caitlin Nic Gabhann. She finished her degree by organizing a recital of all of her own compositions, which she performed with the help of many fabulous musicians in the Cork area. 

Since then, Meghan has found herself immersed in the Irish music scene wherever she has lived, including Ohio, Germany, and Washington D.C., before she moved to Baltimore, where she now calls home. She has had the opportunity to share the stage with many of the greats of Irish music who reside right here in Baltimore, performing with groups such as the GoodFolk, an all-women project alongside Eileen Estes, Donna Long, Laura Byrne, and Agi Kovacs, and Baltimore's "Across the Harbor" project.

Meghan also has a rich teaching background. She began teaching private and group fiddle lessons in her youth, and has since taught at fiddle camps and festivals. She has also had the honor of giving workshops in idiomatic styles of Irish fiddling, through venues such as the School of Musical Traditions here in Maryland. Meghan finds true joy in teaching and performing, and most importantly, in participating in such a vibrant Irish community here in Baltimore!

Richard Osban, Assistant Director/Guitar

Richard Osban is a driving and dynamic guitarist based in Baltimore, Maryland.  He cut his teeth on Irish music while living in Europe, and toured internationally with several Irish and Scottish music projects before returning to the US.  He currently tours with Irish trio the East Coasters, who have recently finished their first studio album.


In addition to his work as a musician, Richard is also an arts organizer.  He serves as assistant director of the Baltimore Trad Fest, director of the Baltimore Irish Tenor Banjo Summit, and organizer of the Baltimore Folk Club concert series and the montly Baltimore Ceili.  He is also the director of the Baltimore Irish Music School, where he teaches guitar backing and tenor banjo to private students.

He has instructed at several international workshops, including Folksounds Elmstein, Celtic Folk Weekend Regensburg, Irish MAD Weekend, and the annual Irish weekend in Ismaning.

Patrick Ourceau, Fiddle

Fiddle player Patrick Ourceau has been playing Irish Music since his early teens. Born and raised in France, Patrick moved to the U.S. in 1989, settled in New York City where he lived for seventeen years, and is now based in Toronto, Canada. 

Mostly self taught, Patrick’s taste for Clare and East Galway music developed early in his playing after being introduced to recordings of the legendary fiddle players Paddy Canny, Paddy Fahey and Bobby Casey. Patrick regularly visits Ireland and especially county Clare. Over the years, he has during those trips, been able to play with and learn from Paddy Canny, as well as from many other local musicians including flute and fiddle player Peadar O’Loughlin. During the many years he lived in New York, Patrick often played with such great musicians as fiddle players Andy McGann and Paddy Reynolds among many others, but was particularly influenced by the style and repertoire of Woodford, Co. Galway flute player Jack Coen.


He is a member since 2003 of the band Chulrua, along with accordion player Paddy O’Brien and guitarist and singer Pat Egan. The trio released last year, on Shanachie Records, The Singing Kettle, their first recording together. When not touring with the band, Patrick performs with guitarist Eamon O’Leary. In 2004, Patrick and Eamon Released Live at Mona’s, a live recording project praised by critics and fans alike as one of the best recent releases of Irish traditional music.

Since the mid nineties, Patrick has performed with many Irish and Irish American musicians and bands. Most notably in duets with Ennis, Co. Clare concertina player Gearoid O’hAllmhurain with whom he recorded Tracin‘ in 1999; with Tulla, Co. Clare accordion player Andrew McNamara, and with the legendary Tulla Ceili band, on the band’s last American tour.

Patrick is featured on flute player Cathal McConnell’s last solo release Long Expectant Comes at Last, on Compass Records; on accordion player John Whelan’s Celtic Roots, on Narada Records and more recently on the TG4’CD and DVD release Geantrai, a compilation celebrating the first ten years of the popular traditional Irish music television program.

In the last fifteen years, Patrick has been in great demand as a teacher and regularly teaches both privately and at various festivals and summer schools across North America and Ireland. He has been part, since 1999, of the teaching staff at Irish Arts Week in East Durham, New York and at Celtic College in Goderich, Canada. He has been teaching for the past several years at Friday Harbor Irish Music Camp in San Juan Island, Washington and at the Chris Langan Weekend in Toronto. Patrick taught several years at Augusta’s Irish Week in Elkins, West Virginia. He has also taught at the Alaska Fiddle Camp in Chugiak, Alaska; at the St. Louis Tionol in St. Louis, Missouri; at the East Coast Tionol in East Durham, New York; at the O’Flaherty’s Retreat in Dallas, Texas; at the Armagh Piper’s Club in County Armagh, Northern Ireland; and at the Fleadh Nua in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland.

John Skelton, Flute

London-born flute and whistle player John Skelton is probably best known to American audiences from his work with The House Band, with whom he recorded eight albums on the Green Linnet label. He has also released a solo album, One At a Time, and Double Barrelled, a highly regarded album of flute duets with Kieran O’Hare, as well as a series of tune collection books, A Few Tunes, A Few More Tunes, Yet More Tunes and Some Breton Tunes. John has performed at most of the major folk festivals in North America, Europe and Australia.


He is an experienced teacher, and has taught at summer schools in the United States, Europe and Africa, In addition to his background in Irish music, John is also well-schooled in the music of Brittany. He visits there regularly, and is a highly-regarded player of the Breton bombarde, a double-reed folk shawm. NPR’s Thistle and Shamrock described him as “the finest bombarde player outside of Brittany.” He also plays the ‘Piston’ (Low Bombarde), the ‘Veuze’ (the bagpipe of eastern Brittany) and the ‘Gaita Gallega’ (Galician pipes).

John Walsh, Mandolin/Banjo

Dublin native, John Walsh, likes to say he was a late-comer to the music. He is an acclaimed tenor banjoist, mandolinist, and vocal performer who has been perfecting his craft for over 40 years. Although he grew up in a musical family, he didn't start playing banjo till around 1981. After leaving school in the seventies, John turned to fishing for full-time employment.


It's from this community that he found, and still finds to some degree, his extensive repertoire of tunes and songs. John was on the Speakers Bureau of the Alaska Humanities Forum and is considered to be the “state's foremost authority on traditional Irish music & culture.” Over the year’s John has performed at various schools and libraries around the state, and has toured extensively in the lower 48. John’s playing style has many influences, but his major influence would have to be Barney McKenna : “The man who put the banjo on the map in Irish Music.”

John Walsh
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