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Danu

Biography

Biography (Courtesy of the Artist’s site, 2005).

DANÚ are an Irish traditional music group based in an Rinn/Ring, Co. Waterford, Ireland, made up of seven traditional musicians, hailing from counties Waterford, Dublin, Kerry and Donegal.

The group have a strong ethos of loyalty to the tradition from
which their music comes and yet still bring a fresh, inspiring approach to their performaces.

A wonderfully lively group on stage, a DANÚ concert is a unique experience, never to be forgotten.

Danu are:

Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh: (Amhránaí/Singer, Flute & Tin Whistles).
Muireann was born in 1978 and spent the first seven years of her life living on small islands off the coast of Ireland. Her father was manager of the island co-operatives on Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran islands off Co. Galway on the west coast of Ireland and also on Cape Clear off the coast of west Cork. Both of the islands are Irish-speaking and she spoke Irish as her first language.

Muireann began playing the fiddle and piano, like her father and her first musical outings were to accompany him to various sessions. It was here she heard a wealth of songs, mainly in the Irish language Sean-Nós (Old way) style and began to absorb the island musical culture.

When the family finally settled in Dún Chaoin in the west Kerry Gaeltacht, Muireann attended Siamsa Tíre, the national folk theatre of Ireland.

Donnchadh Gough: (Bodhrán & Uilleann Pipes)
. Donnchadh comes from "An Rinn", in the Co. Waterford Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area) and is one of the two original members of the group. Born in 1975 and brought up in his family's well-known pub, Mooney's, he grew up listening to Irish music and started playing at the very young age of seven, on a bodhrán (Irish drum), which he got as a present from singing legend and neighbour, Liam Clancy. Donnchadh quickly mastered the bodhrán and then began to play tin-whistle, soon becoming a regular feature, playing at Céilís in Coláiste Na Rinne.

The eagle-eye of Finbar Furey spotted his musical ability and arranged a practice set of pipes immediately and for a half-set of pipes to be made for Donnchadh by Johnny Bourke. He began his learning under the tuition of master-piper Tommy Kearney of Waterford, a man who has ensured that the county's strong piping tradition continues into the new millenium. Later he had tuition from more of Waterford's pipers - Tommy Keane and Jimmy O' Brien-Moran, but his greatest influence remains the man who was a great family friend and would often tell Donnchadh bedtime stories as a child - Séamus Ennis.

Donnchadh's family connection to music is very strong - his mother, sisters and aunts are all singers and his first cousin Aoife Clancy (daughter of Clancy-brother, Bobby) is the singer with the American group "Cherish The Ladies".

Highly regarded on both instruments by fellow musicians and listeners alike, Donnchadh's bodhrán solo is one of the highlights of any Danú concert.


Tom Doorley: (Flute, Whistles & Backing Vocals)
Born in 1972, Tom, from Glenageary, Co. Dublin has been playing for some years in both classical and traditional music circles, in Ireland and abroad. With lessons from Vincent Broderick and influences from many musicians including Séamus Mac Mathúna and Matt Molloy, Tom has established his own style over the years. Widely regarded amongst musicians as a master flautist, he is known for his wild and unpredictable melodic and harmonic variations and for his tenderness of treatment in playing for songs.

As a young musician himself, Tom is very aware of the knowledge and encouragement he was given whilst learning by the musicians he regarded highly, so when not on tour performing with Danú, he pursues his second love in life - teaching both classical and traditional flute to the next generation.

Joining the group in 1996, he has become very well known to audiences as a great storyteller in both English and Irish and with a very tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. Usually the spokesperson of the group, Tom has become the very public face of Danú and is known as a very approachable, friendly and light-hearted person. Yet privately, Tom is someone who takes the history and the playing of the music very seriously and his love, commitment and dedication to Irish music should never be underestimated.

Éamon Doorley: (Bouzouki & Fiddle)
Younger brother to Tom is Éamonn Doorley (Born 1976), another talented man whose musical input to the group is always subtle and extremely complimentary. The counter-melodic style of Éamonn's playing brings that extra warmth to Danú's sound, so well blended that it is difficult to extricate from the tapestry, but which the listener is drawn to nevertheless.

It is in the song arrangements that the fruit of Éamonn's labour becomes obvious, where the magical communication between Ciarán and himself, captures the audience, colouring the images and emotions the song conjures up. The bozouki provides the bridge between verses upon which to ponder the previous part of the story and to imagine what might come next.

The fact that Éamonn is also an accomplished fiddle player himself and has been playing music with his brother Tom since they were both very young, may go some more of the way to explaining his unique knowledge of the songs and tunes he accompanies.

Éamonn plays a flat-back Fylde (English handmade bozouki). To hear Éamonn's fiddle playing, listen to his duet with Daire Bracken, track 10 on Danú's first recording - Danú.

Benny McCarthy: (Accordeon & Melodeon)
Benny (Brendan, born 1975) is from Deelish in West Waterford and is one of the two original members of DANÚ. He began playing at the age of 13 and after some years under the tuition of Bobby Gardiner (also the accordeon teacher of Ciarán Ó Gealbháin), he continued on to be influenced by others such as Jackie Daly, Joe Derrane and Máirtín O' Connor. His love for the melodeon was instilled in him by his teacher Bobby, himself a maestro of the instrument.

Over the years, Benny has developed his own individual style which is strongly influenced by his melodeon playing, winning the Oireachtas Competition in 1994 on both melodeon and accordeon. He has fully integrated that style with his button accordeon playing and has adapted beautifully to his preferred Saltarelle accordeons. The demands of touring for many months of the year, are heavy on instruments and Benny has taken the time to perfect the art of tuning and servicing all of his own accordeons. This allows him to repair them at home and on the road and to adjust them to suit his own personal sound.

There is nothing Benny likes more than to sit down with his former teacher and mentor Bobby Gardiner (who has great respect for him) and play, comparing notes on new tunes and the many accordeons they both possess. They are to be seen every summer at the Willy Clancy Week in Milltown Malbay, Co. Clare, playing in pubs and (weather permitting) on the streets, entertaining the many students of music that visit every year.

As with all other members of DANÚ, Benny has a family connection in his musical background - his brother Stephen is a sean-nós (Old-Style) dancer and his sister Sharon is a talented young fiddle & bodhrán player. Always happiest when performing, whether on a large concert stage or in a small pub, Benny is the powerhouse of DANÚ.

Dónal Clancy: (Guitar)
Dónal is from An Rinn, Co Waterford and comes from a very musical family. His father, uncles and aunts are all singers, actors and musicians and it was inevitable that he would follow in their footsteps. He began playing the guitar at an early age and has played with many different groups over the years, including "Rare", the Clancy Brothers, Solas, Eileen Ivers and many more.

Oisín McAuley: (Fiddle & Backing Vocals)
Brought up in Carrick, Co. Donegal, Oisín grew up surrounded by fiddle music. He learned from Ben Lennon among others before pursuing a music degree at Queen's University, Belfast. He became a touring musician, playing with Stockton's Wing, Cran, Alan Kelly, Hot Club of Dublin and others before joining Danú in 2001.

Oisín is at home with many styles of fiddle playing, from classical to jazz, while his background in traditional music is never far from the fore, being recognised as one of the finest young fiddle players in the ascendancy. He plays an unusal five string violin (ie violin/viola), giving more range to his playing for song arrangements and especially in live concerts. His fiddle solos at Danú concerts are a major highlight of the show.


You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.

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