Mary Staunton comes from Tourmakeady in Co. Mayo and inherits a long musical tradition. her grandmother, Nora Staunton, was one of the most respected 'boxplayers' in the locality and was always in demand for the local house dances. Mary's father Mattie was a well-known fiddle player and her mother Kathleen as well as being a fine singer also plays the accordion.
During Mary's early years, music from the 78rpm era was constantly to be heard in the Staunton household with recordings of musicians such as The Flanagan Brothers, Frank Quinn and PJ Conlon being among her favourites. Later Mary remembers listening to 78rpm recordings of singer, Delia Murphy and the Co. Westmeath born accordion player, Michael Grogan.
From an early age Mary had been singing and always received great encouragement from Mrs. Hughes who was a local school teacher. Mrs. Hughes introduced her to a large repertoire of songs and before long Mary was singing at the various fleadhanna cheoil around the county and further afield.
Mary and her sister Kate and brother Pat had always shown great interest in the musical instruments which were usually lying around the house and at the age of eight Mary began playing for a number of years. Sometime later she began attending music classes in Ballinrobe with Martin O'Donoghue, a well known music teacher in the area. Here she began to learn the B and C system of playing the two row button accordion but she also continued to include the push and draw style.
During her teenage years Mary played regularly with fellow Mayo musician, John Hoban and she was also a member of Seisi&Mac250;n which was run by Comhaltasa CeoltóirÌ Eireann. In the early 1980's Mary moved to Dublin to attend college returning to work some years later in Ballyhaunis. Here she was very much influenced by the playing of local musicians like fiddle players Jimmy Killeen and Jimmy Murphy as well as tin whistle player Domnic Rushe.
In 1988 Mary embarked on a tour of Brittany with Gerry Mulvihill and John Hoban. They followed with a tour of Ireland. By the late eighties Mary had moved to Galway where she played regular sessions with such musicians as Tony Small, Mickey Finn and Charlie Harris. It was in Galway also that Mary met Sharon Shannon and over the following years Sharon invited Mary to sing with her and her bank at a number of venues including The Olympia Theatre and Whelans in Dublin and The RóisÌn Dubh in Galway. She also performed with Sharon during the Clifden Arts Festival.
During the early 1990's Mary began playing music with harp player Kathleen Cannon and bouzouki player Alec Finn. This led to Mary playing with Kathleen on a number of tracks on Kathleenís highly acclaimed solo album Affairs of the Harp (1997). Mary is also a member of the Heritage Céilí Band which is based in Galway. As well as Irish traditional music Mary has always had a great love of music from other cultures such as American Old Timey and the fiddle and piano music of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. In 1997 she took part in the Celtic Colours International festival in Cape Breton.
In the past few years Mary has appeared on radio and television and was also featured on the RTE Lifelines "Tribute to Mick Lally" programme in 1996. She took a break from her teaching job and spent time organising material for her own solo album which she recorded in Dingle and in Ennis. This album was released in November 1998. It is called 'Bright Early Mornings' and is distributed by Gael Linn.
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