CATHAL MCCONNELL

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Cathal McConnell

Biography

Cathal McConnell – Potted History (Courtesy Boys of the Lough site, 2000)
PLUS more courtesy The Knotted Chord Archive.

A founder-member of the band, is one of the best flute and whistle players in the Irish tradition and a greatly respected singer. His naturally relaxed and friendly stage presence allied to an air of bespectacled confusion endears him to audiences everywhere.

Hailing from County Fermanagh, an area rich in musicians, Cathal can trace the flute back through four generations in his family. By the time he was eleven years old he was playing the whistle, encouraged by his father and local teacher Peter Flannagan. At fifteen he took up the flute and in 1962, aged eighteen, became the all-Ireland champion on both instruments. Five years later he was touring with the newly formed Boys of the Lough.

Cathal holds in high regard the musicians of his own county such as John Joe McGuire, Eddie Duffy and Mick Hoy, and their influence can be detected in his playing. A recent television documentary highlighted these connections. His extensive repertoire of song embraces long ballads and serious pieces as well as some of the more humorous items, often preceded by introductions of mirthful complexity. A real enthusiast and possessing great kindness and humanity Cathal always has the time of day to explain and demonstrate the music to others.

With several solo CD, titles to his credit he is recording a new one in New York this year (2000).

Also: Courtesy The Knotted Chord Archive, 2003

Musicians of Fermanagh:

Cathal McConnell(1944- ) Singer, flute, whistle.

Born in Ballilnaleck, County Fermanagh. His father Sandy played whistle, accordion and also sang and his grandfather and great grandfather also played flute.

Cathal started on whistle at age 11 before moving to flute at age 15. He learnt from old ’78 recordings and also from local fiddle and whistle player Peter Flanagan. A major influence was John Joe Maguire and other influences included local players John McManus, Tommy Gunn, Eddie Duffy and Mick Hoy. He also travelled throughout Ireland collecting tunes and meeting older musicians.

In 1962 he won the senior flute and tin whistle competitions at the All Ireland championship.

Cathal played with various Ceili Bands over the years but he has made his career with The Boys of the Lough band which he co-founded in 1967 with Robin Morton and Tommy Gunn.

The Boys of the Lough, which featured Scottish fiddler Aly Bain, are hugely popular on the folk circuit and have been recently joined by Brendan Begley. Dick Gaughan was also a member early on before being replaced by Dave Richardson, one of the mainstays of the band over the years.

They have over 10 albums to their credit, all of which have been significantly influenced by Cathal.

Cathal has a number of solo recordings including the 1976 Topic release "An Irish Jubilee" with Robin Morton and "Lough Erin’s Shore" solo 1976.

In 2000 he released a solo CD "Long expectant come at last" which reflected his eclectic influences and styles and which was critically very well received. Throughout his music career Cathal has stayed true to his Fermanagh and Ulster roots which is obvious from the songs and tunes he plays.

Cathal also released a CD tutor for the tin whistle and teaches and performs at many festivals each year. (FV)





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