One of the finest pipers of his generation, an innovator who
has developed his own unique style - The Irish Times
Ronan comes from a very strong musical background. His grandmother Delia Murphy was renowned for recording and popularising many Irish songs in the 1930's and 1940's such as "If I Were A Blackbird", 'The Spinning Wheel', and Three Lovely Lassies From Bannion'.
Delia, the wife of Dr. T.J. Kiernan, Irish Ambassador to
the Vatican, Australia, Germany, America and Canada, brought Irish musical culture to audiences throughout the world.
Musicians such as Séamus Ennis, Willie Clancy and Denis Murphy were regular visitors to Ronan’s family home over the years. He began playing the pipes at the age of seven and was quickly taken under the various wings of the old masters, his main influences being pipers Willie Clancy, Tommy Reck and Séamus Ennis, whilst Johnny Doran, Denis Murphy and Tommy Potts also played a strong role in forming his early style.
Duet with Peter O’Loughlin
To this day Ronan’s friendship and musical collaboration with Peter O’Loughlin is fêted as one of the most enduring partnerships in Irish music. Their strong combination of mid 19th century flat-pitch uilleann pipes and tuned-down fiddle, playing the old dance music of
Ireland, makes for a rare and thoroughly enjoyable evening’s entertainment.
Their 1988 duet album with Claddagh Records, ‘The South West Wind'’ was received with critical acclaim, and in 2002 they released an even more popular 2nd CD called ‘Touch Me if You Dare’.
They have recently recorded a third album.
With Arts Council DEIS funding, they recently recorded a series of interviews of Peter recalling his personal knowledge and friendship with many of the important musician and singers of the twentieth century.
Ronan has been involved in over 75 album recordings since his first venture into the studio in 1982 and has collaborated with many of the top artists playing Traditional Irish Music, Classical, Pop, Jazz and Country.
These include people such as Anuna, Donal Lunny, Finbar Wright, Alan Stivell, The Indigo Girls, Tommy Hayes, Sean Tyrrell, Bill Whelan, Elvis Costello, Nightnoise, Michael Kamen, Paul Brady, Bill Laswell, Sinéad O’Connor, Peter Gabriel and Deep Forest.
After releasing the easy-listening album Celtic Moods in 1997, Ronan released his long awaited solo traditional CD The Wynd You Know in 2001, with Claddagh Records. 2005 saw the release of a third solo CD Salute to the Brave, mostly of his own modern compositions.
Ronan is a member of the group CRAN with Sean Corcoran and Desi Wilkinson. CRAN have released four CDs: [The Crooked Stair (1993/2005) Black Black Black (1998) Lover’s Ghost (2000) Music from the Edge of the World (2002)].
T h e i r performances are “ … a dazzling display of technical virtuosity combined with fun and humour, banter and stories.”
The core of their repertoire is native Irish material - bubbling dance music or haunting slow airs on flute and pipes, and vocals ranging from the highly-ornamented sean-nós songs of Conamara to the rollicking port a' bhéil or mouth music of Donegal. Their Hiberno- English song repertoire (songs from Ireland in English) covers the entire gamut from the old story-telling "long ballads" to lively comic songs of "pure divilment and rascality". They also include material from the related Scots-Gaelic tradition and from the other Atlantic Celts, the Bretons.
Over the last 20 years, Ronan has established a fine-tuned duet with fiddle player Kevin Glackin; Kevin regularly joins CRAN for recordings along with Triona Ní Dhomhnaill (Bothy Band).
Ronan was the original piper for the Eurovision interval performance of Riverdance in 1994 and his recording has featured in almost every show since. He chose not to join the teeming cast when the show went on the road, preferring instead to concentrate on his personal projects and to leave the touring to pipers with more time on their hands. This left him in a position to concentrate on CRAN the Afro Celt Sound System.
Afro Celt Sound System
In the mid 1990s Ronan was asked if he would like to join a project which was starting up] revolving around Peter Gabriel’s 2nd “World Music Recording Week”. Musicians converged from all over the planet to ramble from project to project being recorded in up 7 recording setups in Real World Studios. Out of this intense meeting of musicians was born the Afro Celt Sound System which went on to become Real World’s most successful
venture. It was a meeting of African and Irish musicians in the convivial company of some of the top London programmers.
The Afro Celts toured the world and Ronan remained with the band for the first two albums, writing and recording in various locations between Ireland and England. Tracks were licensed for countless documentaries, ads and films, the strangest of which was Farrah Fawcett sculpting nude in a Playboy video to the sound of Ronan’s opening track on the 1st Afro Celt CD.
Not only is Ronan an excellent musician but he is also an engaging performer and has a great rapport with his audience, this combination making him a very popular artist. As a result, he plays many prestigious concerts in Ireland and abroad as a solo musician and has also been a guest member to a wide variety of groups. He has toured extensively in Europe and in the USA, as well as playing in Russia, India, Australia, Israel,
New Zealand, Hong Kong and Japan. He gives master classes throughout the world.
Although best known as a traditional musician, Ronan is also keenly interested in exploring other musical genres particularly in film and television. Ronan has written and performed music for fashion shows in London and Paris by designers Lainey Keogh and John Rocha.
Ronan has been teaching the pipes, flute and whistle worldwide for the last 25 years and has recently developed a much sought-after music appreciation/listening class.
In 2005 an Arts Council DEIS grant enabled him to make his class completely
portable and has proved a huge addition to his teaching capabilities.
Along with the late Michael Kamen, Ronan composed the soundtrack for the
documentary film 'The Dolphin's Gift', directed by Kim Kindersley. More
recently, the two of them collaborated on the score to 'Circle of Friends', the film dramatisation of Maeve Binchy's novel.
Ronan has also contributed music to the film soundtracks of ‘Robin of
Loxely’, ‘Rob Roy’, ‘Fierce Creatures’, ‘The Secret of Roan Inish’, ‘Streets of Gold’ and ‘Gangs of New York’.
On Angelica Huston’s ‘Mrs. Browne’, Ronan was Traditional Irish
He composed and recorded scores for the videos and slide shows at the Wexford 1798 Vinegar Hill Interpretative Centre in Enniscorthy, the Waterford Treasures Centre and the King John interpretative Centre in Limerick City. TG4, the Irish TV station, recently commissioned Ronan to write the music for the daily news program ‘Nuacht’ a six part drama series ‘Geibheann’ and a drama ‘An Gaeilgeoir Nocht’.
Ronan appears regularly on Irish music and magazine programs on national television and radio. He has also played for numerous television advertisements.
He appeared on ABC Network's 65 million audience 'Good Morning America' playing the Uilleann Pipes with Donal Lunny, Nollaig Case and Arty McGlynn. He played on the theme music to the six-part series 'Bringing it all Back
Home' - an independent television program dealing with the influence of Irish music on American Folk and Contemporary music.
Ronan featured in Hummingbird's 'Rivers of Sound', which explores many aspects of traditional Irish music.
Ronan worked with Tommy Hayes, on the writing and performance of music for the Abbey Theatre productions of 'The Playboy of the Western World' and 'Macbeth'. He has recently joined forces again with Tommy and dancer CindyCummings to give some seriously off-beat performances where anything can happen!
The Olympia Theatre performance of ‘The Tailor and Ansty’ with Anna Manahan and Frank Kelly saw Ronan playing music and acting a small role. Ronan's version of the Blasket Island air Port na bPucaí was chosen by Limerick's Daghda dance group for their part in the huge Famine commemoration held in Millstreet in 1997.
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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