Celtic Week Staff - July 16-22, 2017


Martin Hayes |

Martin Hayes, from east Co. Clare, began playing the fiddle at the age of seven and went on to win six All-Ireland fiddle championships before the age of nineteen. He is the recipient of numerous awards including “Folk Instrumentalist of the Year” from BBC Radio, “Man of the Year” from the American Irish Historical Society, the Spirit Of Ireland award from the Irish Arts Center, NY, “Musician of the Year” from TG4, the Irish language television station, and the Gathering’s Master Music Maker award. Martin has contributed music, both original and traditional, to modern dance performance, theatre, film and television. He is the artistic director of Masters of Tradition, an annual festival in Bantry, Co. Cork and musical consultant to the Kilkenny International Festival. Martin and guitarist Dennis Cahill have collaborated with some of contemporary music’s most celebrated musicians including the quartet, Brooklyn Rider; viola da gamba player Jordi Savall; bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs and jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. Martin and Dennis’ adventurous, soulful interpretations of traditional tunes are recognized the world over for their exquisite musicality and irresistible rhythm. They are both members of the influential Irish-American band, The Gloaming.

Liz Carroll |

Since she was 18, when she astounded the Celtic music world by winning the Senior All-Ireland Fiddle Championship, Liz Carroll has been amazing audiences around the globe. She has been called a “virtuoso” (The Irish Times), a “celebrated torchbearer” (Lexington Herald-Leader), and a “master of Irish traditional music” (NPR’s The Thistle & Shamrock). She is a NEA National Heritage Fellow, a 2009 Grammy nominee (“Best Traditional World Album,” Double Play with John Doyle), and the first American-born recipient of the TG4 Gradam Cheoil for Cumadoir/Composer – Ireland’s most significant music prize. Liz’s recordings are in the majority, her own compositions, and they have given her a stature equal to that of her playing. She is celebrated for invigorating the traditional styles of Irish music, and her compositions have entered the repertoire of Irish and Celtic performers throughout the world. The first half of 2017 finds Liz at the University of Chicago’s Folk Festival, at WGBH Boston’s A St. Patrick’s Celtic Sojourn, on tour with Trian, recording a new solo album, recording a studio album with The String Sisters, and being featured at the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. For info on these and other appearances, go to Liz’s website. As one of our newest Master Music Makers, we are delighted to welcome Liz back for this year’s Celtic Week!

Nuala Kennedy |

Nuala Kennedy hails from Co. Louth in the northeast of Ireland. She sings traditional songs in English and Gaelic, plays the flute and low whistle, and is a songwriter and tunesmith. Kennedy’s roots are first and foremost in Irish traditional music, and this year, she celebrates the release of Behave the Bravest, her fourth solo recording and first solo release on her own label. (The fabulous artwork on the sleeve is by Amy Bogard, one of her Swannanoa Gathering flute students.) In addition to her own music, Nuala currently performs in The Alt with fellow Swannanoa alumni John Doyle and Eamon O’Leary. Nuala enjoys collaborating across genres and a few years ago she recorded Enthralled, an album of original duets for fiddle and flute with the late great Canadian composer Oliver Schroer. Whatever she is doing, Kennedy always comes back to her traditional Irish roots. Her 2007 debut solo album, The New Shoes, was voted Album of the Week in the Irish Times, was featured in Hotpress’ “Top Ten Folk Albums” of the year, and named BBC Radio Scotland’s “Traditional Album of the Year” in 2008. She has received numerous awards and accolades, including several international invited residencies and collaborations, and has a strong interest in education, holding degrees in Design, Education and Music from Edinburgh College of Art, The University of Edinburgh, and Newcastle University respectively.

Kieran O'Hare |

Kieran O’Hare is a highly respected and sought-after performer of Irish music on the uilleann pipes, flute, and tinwhistle. While attending university at Trinity College, Dublin, he was the first American-born player of Irish music invited to perform in the annual ‘Ace and Deuce of Piping’ concert, held in Ireland’s National Concert Hall. Kieran has since performed at countless festivals and concerts across North America, Europe, and Asia, with such artists as Liz Carroll, Mick Moloney, the late Jerry Holland, Bonnie Raitt, the Paul Winter Consort, Josh Groban, and Don Henley. He has appeared in the film Road to Perdition, the Broadway musical The Pirate Queen, the PBS special presentation Celtic Origins with the Irish choral group Anúna, and as a soloist at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops Orchestra. Kieran works internationally with his wife Liz Knowles in the production and design of large-scale theatrical and musical productions, and the two perform with Pat Broaders with the acclaimed trio, Open the Door for Three. Kieran serves on the Board of Directors of Ná Píobairí Uilleann in Dublin, Ireland, an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of uilleann piping worldwide. Kieran also works in the literary field, and is the founder, co-publisher, and editor of Éirways, a magazine about Irish culture and people, at home and around the world.

Kevin Crawford |

Born in Birmingham, England, Kevin Crawford’s early life was one long journey into Irish music and Co. Clare, 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. He 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, , 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, On Common Ground, a duo recording with Lúnasa’s piper, Cillian Vallely, and his most recent, Carrying the Tune.

Laura Risk |

Laura Risk grew up in the thriving San Francisco Scottish fiddle scene of the 1980s and 90s, learning her craft from acclaimed fiddler Alasdair Fraser. Says The Living Tradition, “Laura plays in a powerful, percussive style, with tight control and beautiful tone but bursting with energy and passion, turning reels into romps and slow airs into soul-searches.” Laura performs and teaches internationally when she is not home in Montreal, Québéc, teaching at McGill University or researching Québécois traditional music, jazz violinist Ginger Smock, or the diffusion of the “chop!” Laura is a co-author of The Glengarry Collection: The Highland Fiddle Music of Aonghas Grant and was recently awarded a Prix Mnémo for her co-production of the community CD Douglastown: Music and Song from the Gaspé Coast. Known as a inspirational teacher, Laura has taught fiddling at numerous summer camps and was an Instructor of Fiddling for five years at Wellesley College. She created and taught the undergraduate course “Fiddling and Beyond: Musical Traditions from the British Isles to North America” at McGill University, and currently teaches a “Strings Techniques” course for music teachers. She also teaches fiddling to youth in the greater Montreal area through the Encore!Sistema Québec program. Laura is thrilled to be returning to Swannanoa again this year!

John Carty |

Born in London, fiddle and banjo player John Carty is one of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians. In 2003 he was awarded the coveted title of TG4 “Traditional Musician of the Year,” firmly establishing him among the elite in traditional music. Since moving to Ireland in 1991, he has recorded extensively and performs both as a solo player, in duets notably with Matt Molloy and Brian Rooney and as part of John Carty’s festival band, At the Racket, and as a member of super-group, Patrick Street. John’s latest album releases include Out of the Ashes, a fiddle and flute duet with Matt Molloy, and Settle Out of Court with his daughter, Maggie on banjo and vocals. More recently, John performed in and arranged the traditional music pieces in the highly acclaimed film, Brooklyn. In addition, John is a tutor on the BA course at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in Limerick and with such experience is a highly sought-after tutor for workshops and summer schools.

John Doyle |

John Doyle is one of Ireland’s most talented and innovative musicians. Originally from Dublin, and a longtime resident of Asheville, John is an accomplished singer and songwriter, multi-Grammy nominee, and an extraordinary master of the Irish guitar whose hard-driving style has influenced a generation of players. A founding member of the acclaimed group Solas, his powerful guitar playing provided the signature rhythmic backbone for the band, and his delicate and emotional fingerstyle playing and creative vocal harmonies can be heard on four of Solas’ recordings as well as a plethora of other recordings. John regularly performs solo, and has also toured the world with such artists as Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Linda Thompson, Jerry Douglas, The Alt, Usher’s Island, Liz Carroll, Eileen Ivers, Tim O’Brien, Michael McGoldrick & John McCusker, Alison Brown, Mick Moloney, Kate Rusby and a host of other world class performers. John has been featured on over 100 recordings of traditional and contemporary Irish, folk and Americana music, including most recently, The Alt with Nuala Kennedy and Eamon O’Leary. He is a great lover of traditional song, an encouraging and enthusiastic teacher, and his nearly non-stop touring, producing and recording schedule attests to his high standing in the world of traditional Irish music. We’re pleased to welcome one of our newest Master Music Makers back for his eleventh Gathering.

Colin Farrell |

Born in Manchester, England, into a very musical family to parents from Co. Galway and Co. Cavan, Colin started playing the fiddle and tinwhistle from an early age and won numerous titles at the Fleadh Cheoil. He began playing with St. Malachy’s Ceili Band when he was 12 years old, and was a founding member of the band Ceile, with whom he recorded the album, Mancunian Way. Since then, has made a name for himself performing and recording with an array of great musicians in Europe and the US, including such performers and groups as Flook, Grada, John Doyle, Tim O’Brien, Karen Casey, the Elders, Project West, the Michael McGoldrick Band and Lúnasa. Colin is also a composer whose tunes have been played and recorded by numerous bands and musicians. In 2005, Colin was awarded a Masters Degree in Music from Limerick University. As a follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut album, On the Move, he has recently released his second album Make A Note, which was named Instrumental Album of the Year by Live Ireland.

Katie McNally |

Called “the new face of Scottish fiddling in the USA” by The Living Tradition, Katie McNally has made waves in both the American folk music scene and abroad since the release of her debut album, Flourish, in 2013. A member of the cross-genre fiddle super-group Childsplay, Katie has also performed with guitarist Eric McDonald, Long Time Courting, and joined Galician bagpiper Carlos Núñez on his first North American tour. Her latest project synthesizes her elegant and powerful fiddle playing with the talents of pianist Neil Pearlman and bluegrass phenom Shauncey Ali on viola. The trio travelled to Cape Breton to record the album, The Boston States, released in October 2016. Under the guidance of producer Wendy MacIsaac (Beolach, Mary Jane Lamond), McNally has curated a collection of tunes that draw inspiration from raw, mid-century recordings of Cape Breton fiddlers both in Nova Scotia and Massachusetts, sculpted by the creative energy of the Boston acoustic music scene. A student of acclaimed fiddler Hanneke Cassel, Katie has played at the Newport Folk Festival, the Barns at Wolf Trap, The Freight & Salvage, The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes and Benaroya Hall, as well as various folk venues throughout North America. In addition to her busy touring schedule, she is a devoted educator whose teaching style was molded by years of attendance at fiddle camps where learning music is about joy and community and fun! This is her approach whether working with her private students, in workshops, at fiddle camps, in musical outreach programs or at Boston’s Symphony Hall. A recent covergirl for Fiddler magazine, Katie has performed and taught fiddle courses in the US, Canada, Spain, Scotland, England, and France. Katie is thrilled to come to Swannanoa for the first time this year!

Len Graham |

County Antrim’s Len Graham has been a full-time professional traditional singer since 1982. After he won the All-Ireland Traditional Singing competion in 1971, his passion for the songs of his native Ulster began to grow with his reputation. Len sought out and recorded older singers, and published a book, Here I Am Amongst You, on the songs, dance music and traditions of Joe Holmes. He was a founding member of the group Skylark, with whom he toured extensively for ten years and recorded four albums. In 1993, he released his book and field recording collection, It’s Of My Rambles. Over the years, Len has collaborated and worked with numerous musicians, poets and storytellers. His association with the late John Campbell brought storytelling and song to a world audience, and their work together over twenty years made a significant contribution toward creating a deeper cross-community understanding of shared cultural traditions during many years of conflict in the north of Ireland. Len has recorded numerous albums, performed at many Irish and international folk, literary and storytelling festivals, and appeared on many radio and television programs. In 1992, he received the Seán O’Boyle Cultural Traditions Award in recognition of his work in Ireland as a song collector and singer. In 2002, he was honoured as the first recipient of the Irish television TG4 National Music Award for “Traditional Singer Of the Year.” In 2008, he was awarded “Keeper of the Tradition” from the Tommy Makem Festival of Traditional Song and the US Irish Music Award in the “Sean-Nós Singing” category, and in 2011 he was awarded the Gradam na mBard CCÉ (CCÉ Bardic Award) at the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

Cathy Jordan |

County Roscommon-born Cathy Jordan has been a professional singer with the Irish traditional group Dervish for over 22 years now. She is also a self-taught guitar, bouzouki, bodhrán and bones player. She has led Dervish as front-woman through thousands of concerts in hundreds of cities in nearly 40 countries. The most notable perhaps were performances at the Great Wall of China and the biggest rock music festival in the world – Rock in Rio to over 250,000 people. Cathy is also a successful songwriter and has co-written with the likes of Brendan Graham, best known for the smash hit “You Raise Me Up.” Recently Cathy has taken up the role of TV presenter and has presented the award-winning Fleadh TV for the last 3 years.

Cathie Ryan |

Cathie Ryan is one of Celtic music’s most emulated singers. Her 25-year career is distinguished by an unerring taste in song, critically acclaimed songwriting, and a history of excellence in recording and performance. She has released five CDs, is featured on over 50 compilations of Celtic music, and tours internationally with her band, headlining at performing arts centers, festivals, and guest-starring with symphony orchestras. Born in Detroit to Irish parents from Kerry and Tipperary, she grew up in a home steeped in song and storytelling and continues to research the myths and excavate and sing the old songs. Cathie has taught workshops on Irish traditional singing, myth and folklore throughout North America and Ireland, both in conjunction with and separate from her concert appearances, including several years at the Gathering.

Kimberley Fraser |

Kimberley Fraser was born on Cape Breton Island and nurtured within its rich musical heritage. She first impressed audiences at the age of three with her step-dancing talents, and soon thereafter took up both the fiddle and the piano. She has performed around the world, from touring Sweden with Cherish the Ladies, to performing at the Celtic Connections festival in Scotland and entertaining NATO troops in Afghanistan. Kimberley holds an honours degree in Celtic Studies and a minor in Jazz from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, and is also a graduate of the Berklee College of Music. An advocate for the importance of traditional music education, she has been a long-time instructor at Cape Breton’s Gaelic College and Ceilidh Trail Music School as well as teaching at the Valley of the Moon Fiddle Camp, the American Festival of Fiddle Tunes, and the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in Aberdeen, Scotland. Following the success of her award-winning recording, Falling on New Ground, Kimberley is currently working on her third album.

Grainne Hambly |

Gráinne Hambly comes from Co. Mayo in the west of Ireland. She started to play Irish music on the tinwhistle at an early age, before moving on to the concertina and later the harp. She lived in Belfast for six years, where she completed a Master’s Degree in Musicology at Queen’s University. Her main research topic concerned folk music collections and the harp in 18th-century Ireland. In 1994, she was awarded first prize in the senior All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil competitions for harp and concertina. As well as being an established performer touring extensively throughout Europe and North America, she is also a qualified teacher of traditional Irish music and is in great demand at summer schools and festivals both in Ireland and abroad. Gráinne was awarded the T.T.C.T. (a certificate for teaching traditional Irish music at advanced level, credited by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and the Irish Department of Education), and has also received her Graduate Diploma in Education (Music) from the University of Limerick. She has released three widely-acclaimed solo harp CDs and a collaborative CD with Billy Jackson, as well as appearing on a number of other recordings.

John Whelan |

Born in London, in his youth John was blessed to play with some great names of an older generation of players, such as Lucy Farr, Brian Rooney and Bobby Casey, to name but a few. After winning his first three All-Ireland button accordion competitions, he recorded his first LP, The Pride of Wexford, at the age of fourteen and an EP with Christine Considine, produced by the legendary Finbarr Dwyer. He made several appearances on RTE and British television before moving to the US in 1980 where he teamed up with Eileen Ivers, culminating in the recording, Fresh Takes with Mark Simos on guitar. In 1990, he released a solo CD, From The Heart, and in 1996, he signed with Narada Records and wrote, recorded and produced seven CDs, bringing him into the Top Ten on the Billboard World Music charts with sales in excess of one million. Since coming to the US, John has helped no less than four students claim the All-Ireland button accordion Championship. Two of those students became professional players, Buddy Connolly (Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul) and John McGroary (Blackthorn). Teaching has always been a passion for John and not just limited to button accordion: he also taught the great Karen Tweed, five-time All-Ireland piano accordion player from England. John has also appeared on the Conan O’Brien Show and in two films, Ride with the Devil, directed by Ang Lee and Gods & Generals, directed by Ron Maxwell. He recently formed a new band called Gailfean, featuring lifelong friend Brian Conway, with Máirtín de Cógáin and Don Penzien.


Kathleen Conneely

Born in Bedford, England to a father from Errislannan, Co. Galway, and a mother from Newtown Forbes, Co. Longford, Kathleen first took lessons in her hometown at an early age from Clare musician Brendan Mulkere, a well-regarded teacher in and around London. She was also heavily influenced by her father, Michael, a well-known fiddle, accordion and tinwhistle player. The Conneely home was often filled with music from records, tapes and live sessions with many visiting musicians. In 1991, she appeared with her father, Mick Sr., brother, Mick Jr., fiddle and banjo player John Carty and flutist Roger Sherlock on RTE’s The Pure Drop. Kathleen has lived, played and taught music in several cities, such as Birmingham, London, Dublin, Chicago and Boston. She has been privileged to have played with many great musicians over the years and has taught for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (parent organization of the All-Ireland Championships) in Dublin and Boston, at the Boston College Irish Studies Program, the Irish Arts Week in the Catskills. and eleven years at the Gathering.

Cillian Vallely |

At age seven, Cillian Vallely began learning the whistle and pipes from his parents, Brian and Eithne at the Armagh Pipers Club, a group that has fostered the revival of traditional music in the north of Ireland for over four decades. Since leaving college, he has played professionally and toured all over North America, Europe, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia. He has recorded on over fifty albums including guest spots with Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Merchant, Alan Simon’s Excalibur project with Fairport Convention and the Moody Blues, GAIA with the Prague Philharmonic and with Karan Casey. He has also performed and toured with Riverdance, Tim O’Brien & Mary Chapin Carpenter in The Crossing, Whirligig, and the Celtic Jazz Collective. He has recently recorded on two movie soundtracks, Irish Jam, and Chatham, and played pipes on the BBC’s Flight of the Earls soundtrack. Since 1999, he has been a member of the band, Lúnasa, one of the world’s premier Irish bands, with whom he has recorded seven albums and played at many major festivals and venues including WOMAD, the Edmonton Folk Festival and The Hollywood Bowl.

Alan Murray |

Alan Murray hails from Glasgow in Scotland, where he was introduced to the tinwhistle at an early age. He eventually turned to the guitar as his primary instrument, and later expanded his arsenal to include the bouzouki. After studying instrument-building and repair in Glasgow, he moved to the US to further pursue his musical career. He was soon playing and recording with some of the best musicians on the New York Irish scene and was featured on 2012’s IMA-nominated Manhattan Island Sessions recording. He has taught at the Catskills Irish Arts Week and Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival and appeared at such well-known events as Denmark’s Tønder Festival, Milwaukee Irish Fest and Celtic Connections. He has shared the stage with such artists as Karan Casey, Niall and Cillian Vallely, Eileen Ivers and Scotland’s Battlefield Band, and has toured extensively across Ireland, Britain, Europe, Australia and the United States.

Billy Jackson |

Billy Jackson was a founding member of the influential folk group Ossian in 1976, a band whose outstanding recordings remain a benchmark for Scottish music. Ossian was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame in September 2015. Acclaimed for his musicality on the Celtic harp, he is also a renowned composer whose work is inspired by the history and landscape of Scotland. In 1999, his song, “Land of Light” was selected as the winner of The Glasgow Herald’s year-long Song For Scotland competition, coinciding with the restoration of the Scottish Parliament, to select a “new anthem for a new era in Scotland.” As a solo performer, he has toured extensively throughout Europe and North America, and has taught harp at many international festivals. Billy is also a trained music therapist, and in 2004, he received our Master Music Maker Award for lifetime achievement. As part of his work combining traditional and classical music, Billy has performed with, and composed for, a variety of orchestras including The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Asheville Symphony and Cape Cod Symphony. Billy headed the music therapy program at Mission Hospital in Asheville for 10 years, and he now works part-time in music therapy in Sligo, Ireland.

Marla Fibish |

A San Francisco native, Marla is one of the prominent voices of the mandolin in Irish music. She brings a musicality to the tradition that is not often heard on the instrument. Her dynamic playing is featured on her CD with Three Mile Stone, and on The Morning Star, a duo CD with Jimmy Crowley, an all-instrumental project which features Irish music on an array of mandolin-family instruments – mandolin, mandola, mandocello, bouzouki, and dordan. In addition to the mandolin, Marla plays mandola, tenor guitar and button accordion. She sings and writes music, and is known for her musical settings of works from a variety of poets. This work is featured in her current duo project, Noctambule, with guitarist and husband Bruce Victor. An experienced and sought-after teacher, Marla teaches private students, classes, and has been a staff instructor at many music camps, including The Mandolin Symposium, O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, California Coast Music Camp, Lark Camp and Portal Irish Music Week.

Ed Miller |

From the folk clubs of Scotland in the 1960s and 70s to the festivals, coffeehouses and music camps of America, Ed Miller has steadily established himself as one of the finest Scottish singers of both contemporary and traditional songs. He has been a regular staff member of Swannanoa’s Celtic Week for more than two decades, where his love and knowledge of Scots song, paired with a droll sense of humor, made him an excellent and popular teacher. Originally from Edinburgh, Ed has been based in Austin, TX for many years, where he received a PhD in Folklore from the University of Texas, but over the past 30 years he has gradually moved from academia to full-time performing. He hosts a folk music show on in Austin, leads folk music tours to Scotland each summer, and has released nine CDs of traditional and contemporary Scottish song, including his most recent, Come Awa’ Wi’ Me.

Andrew Finn Magill |

Finn is a two-time finalist at the All-Ireland Championships. He has toured the U.S, Europe, Africa, and Brazil and performed with many Irish and Scottish luminaries from John Doyle to the Paul McKenna Band. In 2016, he released two discs, Roots, and Branches as part of a project that features many of the artists with whom he has collaborated with over the last ten years. Finn has served as an instructor in Irish fiddle at the Swannanoa Gathering for eight years and taught at a dozen other fiddle camps around the U.S. In 2016, he signed with the Salto Agency to tour his original Brazilian choro music, cultivated after two years of living in Rio de Janeiro. In 2017, he will record and launch his first recording project of Brazilian music. He keeps a busy schedule touring all over the world with violin duo Violino no Choro, Scottish singer Paul McKenna, his choro quartet, O Finno, Atlas’ Cillian King and many others.

John Skelton

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, and nineteen previous years at the Gathering. 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 & 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). In 2014, John and Kieran O’Hare recorded the CD, Two Tone, a follow-up to their highly regarded album of flute duets, Double-Barrelled. John serves as the Celtic Week Host.

Eamon O'Leary

Originally from Dublin, Eamon has lived in New York City for the last twenty years. He has toured extensively throughout North America and Europe, performing and recording with many of Irish music’s great players. In addition to his performance schedule, Eamon has taught at numerous music programs including the Augusta Heritage Center, the Catskills Irish Arts Week, the Alaska Irish Music Camp and many years at the Gathering. In 2004, he and Patrick Ourceau released a live recording, Live at Mona’s, documenting their many years hosting a session on New York’s Lower East Side, and in 2012, Eamon released a recording of traditional songs, The Murphy Beds, with Jefferson Hamer, described by the Huffington Post as “ten beautiful, crystalline songs.” He has recently teamed up with old friends John Doyle and Nuala Kennedy to form The Alt. Their self-titled debut album was released in November 2014.

Matthew Olwell |

Our bodhran instructor Matthew Olwell has been performing and teaching as a dancer and musician at festivals and theaters across North America and Europe since 1996. He grew up in a family of instrument-makers, immersed in a world of music, dance, and theatre, and toured for nine years with the Maryland-based Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, with whom he performed in Riverdance. His teachers include Myron Bretholz, Benoit Bourque, Dianne Walker, Baakari Wilder, Donny Golden, Eileen Carson, and The Fiddle Puppet Dancers. In 2016, Matthew released his first solo recording project, CyberTrad, which melds Irish Flute with human beatbox and bass. He graduates in the spring of 2017 from Davis & Elkins College with a degree in Multimedia Performance Studies. A co-founder of Good Foot Dance Company, director of The Beat Retreat, a percussive dancers co-op and professional development session in Charlottesville, VA, and co-coordinator of The Augusta Heritage Center’s American Vernacular Dance Week, Matthew is a crossover artist who embraces his grandfather’s definition of a dilettante: “one who delights in many things.”

Siobhan Butler |

Siobhan Butler is an acclaimed performer and teacher of sean-nós and set dancing. She has been featured in many settings including RTE and TG4 in Ireland and the prestigious Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN. Siobhan has performed and collaborated with many leading traditional artists including The Yanks, Kevin Burke, Cherish the Ladies, Nic Gareiss, Tony Demarco, Kieran Jordan, Patrick Ourceau & Tony McManus, Atlantic Steps, as well as a European tour with the renowned Irish dance show, Rhythm of the Dance. With over 15 years of dance experience, Siobhan’s dancing has been described as musical, joyful, and exciting. Her expertise in Irish dance traditions is showcased through in-demand workshops, demonstrations, and lectures. She has taught master classes all over the U.S. at such venues as Boston College, Villanova University, The University of Limerick, Milwaukee Irish Fest, and Sean-Nós Northwest to name a few. Siobhan is a graduate of Goddard College, where she received a BA in Anthropology and is currently pursuing an MA in Ethnochoreology from the University of Limerick in Ireland.

Robin Bullock |

Hailed as a “Celtic guitar god” by the Baltimore City Paper and a recipient of the Swannanoa Gathering’s Master Master Music Maker award, Robin Bullock’s virtuosity on guitar, cittern and mandolin blends the ancient melodies of the Celtic lands, their vigorous Appalachian descendants, and the timeless masterworks of the Baroque and Renaissance eras into one powerful musical vision. Robin’s honors also include “Editor’s Pick” and “Player’s Choice” Awards from Acoustic Guitar magazine, the Association for Independent Music’s prestigious INDIE Award (with the world-music trio Helicon), multiple Washington Area Music Association WAMMIE Awards, a Governor’s Award from the Maryland State Arts Council, and a bronze medal at the National Mandolin Championships in Winfield, Kansas. He maintains a busy international touring schedule, performing solo, in Celtic duos with guitarist Steve Baughman and Irish singer Aoife Clancy, and as sideman with Grammy Award-winning folk legend Tom Paxton, including Tom’s 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015 “Together at Last” tours with fellow Grammy winner Janis Ian. Robin’s fifteen solo and collaborative CDs include his most recent, volume one of the first-ever complete recording of the Bach Cello Suites on solo mandolin, and 2016’s The Carolan Collection, a compilation of the legendary Irish bard’s compositions, sales of which benefit North Carolina animal rescue organizations and raised over $8000 for the cause in the CD’s first year of release. 2017 marks the twenty-second consecutive Swannanoa Gathering for Robin, now a proud resident of nearby Black Mountain.

Rose Flanagan

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 Sligo fiddler Martin Wynne and her brother Brian Conway. Rose was recently inducted into the Mid-Atlantic Region CCE Hall of Fame alongside her father Jim and her brother Brian. She currently teaches in her hometown of Pearl River, NY where she is hard at work preparing the next generation of great traditional musicians, which include several All-Ireland winners and medalists. Among Rose’s past students are the fiddlers in Girsa and All-Ireland senior fiddle champion Dylan Foley. Rose has been an instructor at the Alaska Fiddle Camp, The Augusta Heritage Irish Week, The Catskills Irish Arts week, Colorado Roots Camp, Centrum Fiddle Tunes, Fiddle and Pick Irish Camp, Mad for Trad Week, The O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, and several times at the Gathering. She has also taught at the DeDanaan Dance Camp in Vancouver, BC, the Scoil Eigse in Cavan and Sligo, Ireland, and workshops at the Northeast Tional, Cape Cod Ceili Weekend, Baltimore Trad Festival, and at various CCE conventions. Rose also runs seisúns, and performs throughout the New York area. She recently released Forget Me Not, a duo CD with Baltimore flute player Laura Byrne.

Jim Magill |

The Coordinator of Celtic Week is an award-winning songwriter and instrumentalist and a three-time finalist for College Entertainer of the Year. He is the founding Director of the Swannanoa Gathering Folk Arts Workshops of Warren Wilson College, directs the Celtic Series of Mainstage Concerts at Asheville’s Diana Wortham Theatre, and was awarded the first Fellowship in Songwriting and Composition from the North Carolina Arts Council. He performs solo on guitar, cittern, mandolin and vocals, and with his wife Beth (flute) and son Andrew Finn (fiddle) as the Celtic trio, The Magills. With numerous album and performance credits, including appearances with Emmy Lou Harris and Tom Paxton, Jim’s original songs have been covered by such artists as Mike Cross, The Smith Sisters, Cucanandy and the Shaw Brothers, and have been featured on NPR’s Thistle & Shamrock. In the world of graphic arts, his cover designs for the Gathering’s catalogs have won twelve design awards, he’s twice been a finalist for Photoshop World’s Guru Awards, and he has served as a consultant on website design for several luthiers.

Melissa Hyman

Children’s Program coordinator Melissa Hyman has been involved with kids and music throughout her working life. She traveled for years with bands on the folk circuit, working full-time as a touring and recording artist, cellist, singer and songwriter. When not on the road she gives private cello lessons, and teaches music on the pediatric unit at Mission Hospital in Asheville as the Music Fellow for Arts for Life (, a non-profit that provides art and music activities to patients at North Carolina’s children’s hospitals. Melissa has taught music at Evergreen Community Charter School and Rainbow Community School in Asheville, and coordinated children’s programming at the Southeast Regional Folk Alliance (SERFA) conference in Montreat, NC. In 2010 she was the music teacher for our Children’s Program, and it was ‘love at first Gathering.’ In 2014, Melissa took on the role of Children’s Program Coordinator, and now she looks forward to many more unforgettable summers in Swannanoa. She feels right at home in this world of messy games, silly songs, amazing crafts and fast friendships.