PERFORMERS & INSTRUCTORS
Scroll down for bios and visit the workshops page for workshop descriptions!
Classes and Instructors 2023
Button Accordion (All Levels) - Billy McComiskey
Button Accordion (All Levels) - Sean McComiskey
Fiddle (Intermediate/Advanced) - James Kelly
Fiddle (Intermediate/Advanced) - Rose Flanagan
Fiddle (Adv. Beginner) - Meghan Mette
Tin Whistle/Flute (Intermediate/Advanced) - Kevin Crawford
Tin Whistle (Intermediate/Advanced) - Kathleen Conneely
Flute/Tin Whistle (Advanced Beginner) - Marty Frye
Tenor Banjo (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Pauline Conneely
Tenor Banjo/Mandolin (Advanced Beginner)- Peter FitzGerald
Concertina (Beginner) - Catriona Fee
Uilleann Pipes (All Levels) - Cillian Vallely
Dropped-D Guitar (Beginner) - David McKindley-Ward
Dropped-D Guitar (Intermediate/Advanced) - Conor Hearn
DADGAD Guitar (all levels)- Josh Dukes
Bodhran (beginner/Advanced beginner) - Eileen Estes
Bodhran (Intermediate/advanced) - Myron Bretholz
Sean Nos Singing - Catherine O'Kelly
Sean Nos Dance - Kieran Jordan
Irish Social Dance - Megan Downes
Harp (Intermediate/advanced) - Lexie Boatright
The History of Irish Music in Baltimore: Instructor Panel
The History of Irish Music in America: Instructor Panel
Tune repertoire for all instruments: Instructor Panel
Song Repertoire for all singers: Eileen Estes and Catherine O'Kelly
Lexie Boatright, Concertina and 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 is half of the duo Síneadh Fada with Sean-Nós dancer Shannon Dunne. Her teaching style centers around the 'how' and 'why' of concertina playing in a way that empowers students of all levels and generations to take charge of this quirky instrument 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.
Laura Byrne, Director / Flute
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.
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
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.
Kevin Crawford, Flute
Born in Birmingham, England, Kevin Crawford’s early life was one long journey into Irish music and Co. Clare, to where he eventually moved while in his 20’s. He was a founding member of Moving Cloud, the Clare-based band who recorded such critically-acclaimed albums as Moving Cloud and Foxglove, and he has also recorded with Grianin, Raise the Rafters, Joe Derrane, Natalie Merchant, Susan McKeown and Sean Tyrrell. Kevin appears on the 1992 recording, The Maiden Voyage, recorded live at Peppers Bar, Feakle, Co. Clare, and appears on the 1994 recording, The Sanctuary Sessions, recorded live in Cruise’s Bar, Ennis, Co. Clare.
Kevin now tours the world with Ireland’s cutting-edge traditional band, Lúnasa, called by some the “Bothy Band of the 21st Century,”with eight ground-breaking albums to their credit: Lúnasa, Otherworld, The Merry Sisters of Fate, Redwood, The Kinnity Sessions, Sé, The Story So Far and La Nua. His latest project is the Teetotallers, a supergroup trio that also features Martin Hayes and John Doyle. A virtuoso flute player, Kevin has also recorded several solo albums including The ‘D’ Flute Album, In Good Company (a recording featuring Kevin playing in duet with many of Ireland’s top fiddlers), On Common Ground (a duo recording with Lúnasa’s piper, Cillian Vallely), and his most recent, Carrying the Tune.
Megan Downes, Irish Social Dance
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, DADGAD Guitar
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.
Eileen Estes, Singing/Bodhran
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.'
Peter FitzGerald, Tenor Banjo/Mandolin
Peter comes from Navan County Meath. During the folk and traditional music revival in the late ‘70s, Peter took up mandolin and started attending sessions on a regular basis in County Meath and beyond. Later he took up banjo and was influenced by Barney McKenna and Mick Moloney, especially having heard the latter’s “Strings Attached” album. In 1983 he emigrated to the U.S. with his friend accordion player Tim Mulcahy and settled in Baltimore. Peter soon became a regular player at sessions and ceilis in the area. At Billy McComiskey’s Thursday night session at Kavanagh’s pub in Baltimore, Peter learned an abundance of music, especially from Billy. In addition, he increased his repertoire from playing with the many visiting musicians who attended that session and the many other sessions in the Baltimore-Washington area. In 1990, Peter began leading what would become the longest running session in Baltimore, at J.Patrick’s Irish Pub. That session ran non-stop until the owner Joe Patrick Byrne passed away in 2012. Peter is a highly regarded banjo and mandolin teacher and has taught privately, at previous Baltimore trad festivals, and at New York Catskills festivals and festivals in Nova Scotia.
Rose Flanagan, Fiddle
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.
Marty Frye, Flute/Whistle
Marty Frye hails from Washington D.C. where he had the great fortune of stumbling into the city’s powerful traditional Irish music community as a youth. He dug deep into the tradition and went on to become an in-demand flute player across the region. Marty has benefited from the tutelage of many Irish flute masters including Kevin Crawford, Conal O’Grada, Lawrence Nugent, Sean Gavin, and Josh Dukes. Marty delights in the driving, infectious rhythm and lift that are at the root of traditional Irish dance music as well as lyrical and tastefully ornamented old melodies.
Marty has performed in a wide variety of venues that include farm-to-table-dinners, ceilis, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, a reception of incoming U.S. House Representatives, pubs, and intimate house concerts.
Conor Hearn, Dropped-D Guitar
Conor Hearn is a stylistically diverse guitar player and instructor who specializes in the accompaniment of traditional Irish and Scottish fiddle playing. Hailing from the Irish music communities of Washington D.C. and Maryland, Conor grew up playing the fiddle and guitar in the traditional Irish music sessions. While studying to attain his B.A in English Literature with a minor in Music from Tufts University, Conor worked as a professional guitar player by lending his innovative rhythmic skills to the panoply of groups and projects taking shape in the Boston area folk music scene.
He has since performed on programs like Brian O'Donovan's Celtic Sojourn and taught guitar at music festivals such as the Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddle School, Alasdair Fraser's Sierra Fiddle Camp, and The Swannanoa Gathering. A versatile sideman, Conor tours with the traditional Celtic-Americana duo, Rakish, and the Afro-Celtic-Funk band, Soulsha. He also performs with such renowned traditional music icons as Seamus Egan, John Whelan, and Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas. Conor makes his home by the river in West Medford, MA, where he performs and teaches regularly.
Kieran Jordan, Sean Nos Dancing
Kieran Jordan, based in Boston, is an Irish dance performer, teacher, director and choreographer, and founder of the Kieran Jordan Dance company and studio. Drawing from a background in contemporary dance, somatic work, and more than 40 years of immersion in traditional Irish dance, Kieran is recognized as a leading artist and contributor in her field.
Kieran is a tradition-bearer and innovator, mentor and community builder. Born in Philadelphia in an Irish American family, she started Irish step dancing when she was just five years old. A passion for music and movement, a life-long interest in family and cultural identity, and a quest for health, wholeness, and joyful self-expression — have guided her unique career in Irish dance.
Regarded as “one of America’s premier dancers and instructors” (Irish Echo), Kieran is a two-time recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship (2008 and 2018) and was also awarded two Master Artist teaching grants in the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program (2010 and 2020). Kieran has a Master’s Degree in Contemporary Dance from the University of Limerick, Ireland, a B.A. from Boston College in English and Irish Studies, and also holds the TCRG certification for teaching Irish Dance.
James Kelly, Fiddle
James Kelly, a native of Ireland, is one of the finest Irish traditional fiddlers of our time. Born in Dublin, James grew up listening to and playing traditional Irish music. His father, John Kelly, the renowned fiddle and concertina player from Co. Clare, began teaching James to play at the age of 3. James’ father was also a founding member, with Sean O’Riada, of “Ceoltoiri Cualann”, a traditional group that, in many ways, was responsible for the modern revival of Irish Music. James’ love of the music and his ability as a player launched, at age 14, his performing and recording career with several broadcasts for R.T.E. (Irish National Radio and T.V.).
At the age of 16, he won first place in the prestigious Fiddler of the Year competition and he also recorded his first album, a fiddle duet with his brother John. During that time, he joined the group Ceoltoiri Leigheann (Leinster Musicians), that included his father John, Paddy O’Brien, Mary Bergin, and Paddy Glackin. He recorded two albums with this group before emigrating to the U.S. in 1978. He spent the next three years touring the U.S with Paddy O’Brien and Daithi Sproule and recorded two albums for Shanachie records.
James has toured Europe, the U.S., Canada and South America and was a member of many groups, including: Kinvara (Dolores Keane, John Faulkner, Jackie Daly); Bowhand (with Paddy O’Brien and Dáithi Sproule, later with Paddy and Bernie Mc Donald); Patrick Street (Kevin Burke, Andy Irvine, Gerry O Beirne, Triona Ni Domhnaill and Declan Masterson); and the legendary Irish folk group, Planxty (Liam Flynn, Andy Irvine, Dolores Keane, Bill Whelan, Arty McGlynn). He has also appeared with the Grammy award winning Irish group The Chieftains. He received the prestigious “Florida Folk Heritage Award” as well as the “Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Folk Arts Award” in recognition of his art. In 2006 James received Irish music’s highest award – the “Gradam Ceoil TG4 Irish Musician of the Year Award ” in recognition of his outstanding musicianship and contributions to Irish music (TG4 is Ireland’s Irish language TV station).
James recently released his third solo CD entitled “Melodic Journeys” and is compiling his compositions for publication, as well as recording an instructional DVD for fiddle students. James continues to tour the U.S., Canada and Europe with some of Irish music’s leading accompanists.
Donna Long, Piano
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.
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.
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.
Meghan Mette / Fiddle
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!
David McKindley-Ward, Guitar
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
Catherine O'Kelly, Sean Nos Singing
Catherine O’Kelly is an Irish Traditional singer and fiddler from Tappan, NY. Catherine often sings unaccompanied through the sean nós style of singing utilizing ornamentation and emotion to tell a story through songs that are centuries old. A strong believer in the unbroken line of tradition, Catherine teaches this style of singing, which she learned from her teacher Deirdre Connolly, to younger students in her area.
Catherine competed at the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in 2019, where she placed third in Under 18 Ladies English Singing. Since then, she has performed throughout the East Coast, including the New York Irish Center during the Blarney Star Music Series and the Maryland Irish Festival. Catherine also placed first at the Scór Na Nog competition in New York representing Rockland GAA in November 2022.
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. Most recently, he performs in the trio the East Coasters and tours with acclaimed Scottish duo Jocelyn Petit and Ellen Gira.
Richard has instructed at several international workshops, including Folksounds Elmstein, Celtic Folk Weekend Regensburg, and the annual Irish weekend in Ismaning.
Cillian Vallely, Uilleann Pipes
Cillian Vallely, a native of Co. Armagh, is the product of an important traditional Irish music family. His parents Brian and Eithne Vallely founded the legendary Armagh Pipers’ Club, an organization that has fostered the revival of traditional music in the north of Ireland for over fifty years, and there, Vallely grew up surrounded by music. Taught by his father and local piper Mark Donnelly, he was able to master the whistle and pipes and developed a distinctive approach to piping later influenced by the rhythmic, flowing style of Paddy Keenan. His budding professional career began in the 1990s, touring with groups like the New York-based Whirligig and the dance show Riverdance.
Vallely joined Lúnasa in 1999 and with them has recorded seven albums and played over 1500 shows in 20 countries, including major tours throughout North America and Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia. Lúnasa are considered true innovators in Irish music and receive universal critical praise. They have played in major venues like the Hollywood Bowl, the Royal Concert Hall of Glasgow, Dublin’s National Concert Hall, and the Bercy Arena in Paris, as well as every major folk festival, including Glastonbury, Womad, the Edmonton Folk Festival, and Lorient Interceltique. They were also named “Performers of the Decade” by LiveIreland.com in 2010. Their most recent work is a groundbreaking album with Ireland’s RTÉ Concert Orchestra in 2013. Lúnasa maintains a sterling profile and are standard bearers in the world of traditional music.
With over 60 recordings to his credit, Vallely is an in-demand studio session musician. He has collaborated on traditional music projects including Callan Bridge with his brother Niall and On Common Ground with flute player and Lúnasa bandmate Kevin Crawford. Vallely has also toured and recorded with the likes of Natalie Merchant, Tim O Brien, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Alan Simon (with members of Fairport Convention and the Moody Blues), the Celtic Jazz Collective with David O’Rourke, Lewis Nash and Peter Washington, the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Karan Casey, Micheal O’Suilleabhain, and many more. Valley’s playing has also been used in the soundtrack for the BBC series Flight of the Earls and for Hollywood motion pictures including The Golden Boys. Most recently, however, he was a guest on Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes album, a modern day classic, which topped the charts in 14 countries.