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Na Píobairí Uilleann Presents: Session with the Pipers

Tuesday 4th October 2011

Traditional Music Recital

Michael Cooney (Uilleann Pipes)
Charlie Lennon (Fiddle)
Johnny Connolly (Accordion)
Meaití Jó Shéamuis Ó Fatharta (Songs)

The Cobblestone Bar, 77 North King Street, Dublin 7
Starting at 9:30pm (Doors 9.00pm)
Admission: €12.00 (concession €8.00)

Supported by
The Arts Council

About the Musicians
Michael Cooney (Uilleann Pipes)
It seems like Michael Cooney was destined to play the pipes. He was raised in a family of Highland pipers from Co. Tipperary. His father, Martin, and his uncles played in the Sean Tracey Pipe Band in Littleton that his grandfather and great uncles founded. Irish dancing and singing also ran in the family. At a young age, Michael took a liking to the whistle. His father, eager to expose him to as much music as possible, began driving Michael all over the country for instruction.

His first road trips were for whistle lessons from Dan Cleary, who led the Ballinamere Céilí Band of Co. Offaly in the 1940s. He also learned from Sean Ryan, a fiddle player originally from Newtown, Co. Tipperary. Michael enjoyed the whistle (he still does), but it was the uilleann pipes that eventually called to him. In 1975, the Cooneys moved back to Gortnahoe in Co. Tipperary from Westmeath, allowing the young piper to meet new musicians. After Michael received his first set of pipes (made by Tom White of Co. Wexford), he went to the Slieveardagh Hills for music. Because pipers were scarce there, he learned instead from accordion players Paddy O’Brien and Pat Lyons, and fiddler Niall Cleere.
Michael defined his piping style by listening to his father’s tapes of Johnny Doran, Willie Clancy, Felix Doran, Leo Rowsome, Patsy Touhey, and Seamus Ennis. He was also a big fan of Planxty and the Bothy Band, two groups from the folk revival that featured pipers.
In the 1980s, Michael “Piper” Cooney made a name for himself, winning multiple All-Ireland championships in pipes and whistle. He also spent some time in the US, where he played music with legends like Andy McGann, Paddy Reynolds, and Joe Burke. His recording A Stone’ Throw (2003) takes us a fair distance through Michael’s musical biography. There are reels here passed down to him from Niall Cleere and Paddy O’Brien, as well as a couple of Scottish tunes, and an American waltz picked up in St. Louis. Michael went on to release his second album “Just Piping” in 2010 which emphasizes the richness and rhythms of the music of his homeland.

Johnny Connolly (Accordion)
Born on the island of Inis Bearacháin off the coast of Connemara, the ‘King of the Melodeon’ Johnny Connolly began playing at the age of 10. At the age of 17 he moved to the north of England for work, returning to Ireland in 1976 and settling in Spiddal. Released on the Cló Iar Chonnachta label, his debut album An tOilleán Aerach was described by The Living Tradition as a recording ‘that literally jumped with life and heady vigour’. Drioball na Fáinleoige served to confirm his position as Ireland’s greatest melodeon player. In 2002, he was awarded the prestigious Gradam An Phléaráca, an honour bestowed on Connemara artists who have made an outstanding contribution to the promulgation of their Gaeltacht culture. His most release on CIC, An Mileoidean Scaoilte, was hailed as ‘an instant classic’ by The Living Tradition.

Charlie Lennon (Fiddle)
Born in Kiltyclogher, north county Leitrim, Charlie started piano at age seven. He also started on fiddle, taught by his brother Ben, who brought him through the music of the Sligo masters Coleman, Killoran, Morrison and Gillespie.

He went on to study classical violin in his late teens as well as studying classical and jazz harmonies. From age seventeen Charlie was a professional musician playing with several céilí bands, variously on piano, fiddle, drums and double bass. At twenty-two Charlie enroled at Liverpool University, eventually securing a Doctorate in Nuclear Physics. While in Liverpool he played with the ‘Liverpool Céilí Band’ from 1960 to 1968.

The ‘Liverpool’ won two All-Ireland titles, recorded two albums with Decca and toured in the United States. In 1969 he moved back to Ireland with his wife, sean-nós singer, Sile Ni Fhlaithearta from Spiddal.

In the late 1970s Charlie began composing tunes in a serious way, most of which ended up in the book of his compositions Musical Memories (Waltons) released in 1993. His recordings include Lucky in Love (with Mick O’Connor), The Emigrant Suite, Flight from the Hungry Land (from which the show and video Waves was taken), Island Wedding, Time for a Tune and Turning the Tune.

Many famous Irish musicians and bands have recorded his tunes, including: De Dannan, Liam O’Flynn, Kevin Burke, Sharon Shannon, Altan and The London Lasses and Pete Quinn.

Along with his brother Ben, and Ben’s sons Brian and Maurice, he recorded the album Dance of the Honey Bees. He also appears on Ben’s solo album The Natural Bridge. Charlie has been piano accompanist on over twenty-five albums, among them Omos do Joe Cooley with Paul Brock and Frankie Gavin and The Bucks of Oranmore with Joe Burke.

Meaití Jó Shéamuis Ó Fatharta (Songs)
Meaití comes from the south Connemara Irish speaking area of Inverin, three miles west of Spiddal village and four miles east of Tully where TG4 television headquarters is located.  He had a keen interest in Irish traditional dance music and in sean-nós singing from his early childhood, having picked up the songs from his mother and learned to play tunes on tin whistle from his uncle Máirtín when he was eight.  The same uncle, who himself played a good accordion, got him his first practice set of pipes at the age of thirteen.  The young teenager was exhilarated with this new challenge and although he was basically self-taught he steadily added to his store of tunes, picking them up by ear from his uncle and local and college friends and by listening to traditional Irish music shows on the radio.  He started playing gigs while in college in the late sixties and was able to purchase his first half set of uilleann pipes (made by Dan O’Dowd and Johnny Burke) and a concert flute during his two years as a teacher but had to wait a while longer before getting his first full set in the late eighties from Bruce Du Vé, an Australian who lived in Spiddal at the time.  He now plays a concert pitch full set made by Charles Roberts, an English pipe maker, who operated in Sligo and made this set, which has a fourth drone pitched in G, some time in the early eighties.

Meaití left teaching to become one of the first seven broadcasters with the inaugural all Irish language new radio station, Raidió na Gaeltachta, in 1972.  A large portion of what was to become a 38 year career was spent collecting, producing and presenting traditional Irish music and songs from all over Ireland and further afield until his early retirement in December 2009.

He also took part in the annual Irish national festival Oireachtas na Gaeilge or the Oireachtas for over thirty years and captured all of the main trophies for sean-nós singing, including the coveted Ó Riada Cup in 2001.  He is also well known as a sean-nós and an instrumental music adjudicator at fleadhs throughout Ireland and as a tutor holding workshops at regular events and festivals inside and outside of Ireland e.g. Le Festival Interceltique in Lorient in Brittany and The Milwaukee Irish Festival in Wisconsin.

About Na Píobairí Uilleann

Na Píobairí Uilleann (NPU), the Society of Uilleann Pipers was founded in 1968 at grassroots level by pipers with the aim of protecting a threatened art form. Now, 40 years later, NPU is a thriving arts organisation with thousands of members worldwide, dedicated to servicing the aims and needs of pipers worldwide. It is an ambition of NPU’s to establish the uilleann pipes as the iconic instrument of Ireland in the 21st century. Since unveiling its restored Georgian premises at 15 Henrietta St in January 2007, NPU has been busy catering for the expanding demand for regular tuition as well as releasing a number of significant publications and recordings. With demand for pipes exceeding supply considerably, a dedicated course in pipe-making is currently being finalised while NPU’s commitment to tuition, both on a weekly basis at its premises and internationally, continues to grow, along with its public performance programme.  Na Píobairí Uilleann’s primary funding agencies include the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs, The Arts Council / An Comhairle Ealaíonn and Dublin City Council

Contact Details

Na Píobairí Uilleann, 15 Henrietta St., Dublin 1, Ireland

Tel : +353-1-8730093

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