Valerie Casey is a fiddle player and singer from Carherline in East Limerick. Having received her primary education where traditional music was vibrant she began playing music, firstly being taught the whistle by Pat O’Dea and then the fiddle by Sheila Cagney, a local musician from the area. She was actively involved in Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann throughout her teenage years and a member of many successful grúpaí ceoil and céilí bands at all-Ireland level. She has since began teaching groups and bands for the Fleadh Cheoil in recent years. Valerie studied music in the National University of Ireland, Maynooth and went on to complete an MA in Traditional Irish Music in the University of Limerick in 2003. She is currently living in Limerick, teaching music and living a happy fulfilled life as a ‘broke’ professional musician!! With much performance experience as a fiddle player and singer, she has toured with various groups internationally such as Ragús and Celtic Legends.
Deirdre Chawke is a piano accordion and fiddle player from Banogue, Co. Limerick. She started playing music at an early age with local music teacher Sheila Cagney. She went on to participate at all levels at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, winning three All-Ireland titles in solo, group and band competitions. She has performed with various music groups in Britain, Europe and America. In 2003 she completed a Bachelor of Education degree in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, going on to do an MA in Traditional Irish Music at the University of Limerick. While studying at the university Deirdre was influenced by many piano accordion players, including Karen Tweed, Jimmy Keane, Ian Lowthian and Mirella Murray. In recent years Deirdre has focused on developing interesting rhythmical and harmonic accompaniment and in doing this she has collaborated with many guitarists and harpists.
From Cappataggle in east Galway, Elaine Cormican is an accomplished traditional singer and tin whistle player. Having completed the MA in Irish Traditional Music Performance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick in 2005, she is currently tutoring and lecturing there on Irish traditional song. She has toured, as lead vocalist, with Cork based traditional group, North Cregg. She was selected as an Irish representative for the Asia-Europe Foundation I’mPULSE GOL programme, November 2005, which explored traditional vocal sounds from various European and Asian countries. In her younger years she participated in Fleadhanna Ceoil (Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann), where she attained ten All-Ireland titles for both tin whistle and traditional singing. Her music experience also includes her professional role as Music Programmer at The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children, Temple Bar.
Síle Denvir was born and raised in the Connemara Gaeltacht and was surrounded by music and song from an early age. Her first language is Irish and this lead naturally to an interest in sean-nós singing. Immersed in this tradition of sean-nós singing, she learned songs from many local singers, including Máire Uí Dhroighneán and Patsy Ó Ceannabháin. Having got a taste for traditional music from the renowned whistle player Mary Bergin, she began learning the harp from Kathleen Loughnane of Dordán and also worked with many other harpists while studying for a BA in Music and Irish at NUI Mayooth and for an MA in Traditional Irish Music at the University of Limerick. Síle has also won numerous titles at the International Pan-Celtic competition for harp and singing. More recently she represented Ireland at the First Asia-Europe Music Camp 2005 in the Philippines. When she isn’t playing music, Síle is busy being a professional student! She is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Limerick focussing on the restructuring, reinterpretation and performance of Irish and Scottish traditional song in a contemporary setting, while also tutoring and lecturing at the university.
Claire Dolan comes from Gortmore, an area near New Inn in east Galway. She has played the fiddle from a young age, having grown up in a musical family and an area with a vibrant musical life and tradition. Her love of traditional music began at home where she learned her first tunes from her father, a keen singer and accordion player. She moved to Limerick in 2003 to study at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and subsequently graduated with a Masters Degree in Irish Traditional Music Performance. Claire has toured extensively with numerous music groups. She has performed with Lord of the Dance in the U.S, South Africa and Europe. She has also played both at home and internationally with shows such as Ragús and Celtic Legends. Claire’s musical influences include the playing of various musicians such as Liam Lewis, Conor Tully and John Carty.
Dubliner, Sarah-Jane Woods learned her flute playing from former member of ‘The Chieftains’, Michael Tubridy. She has toured Britain and North America with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí, Ireland’s premier cultural movement. Sarah-Jane holds several All Ireland honours including the Senior Flute title (2000) at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann and at An tOireachtas. Recordings of musicians such as Josie Mc Dermott, John Mc Kenna, Willie Clancy and Peadar O Loughlin continue to be important musical influences on Sarah-Jane’s style and repertoire, as are the many musicians she is fortunate to meet at Fleadhanna and traditional music festivals. She is an experienced traditional music teacher at all levels and teaches regularly with Comhaltas. She has also tutored and performed at such events as Scoil Éigse, Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy and The Joe Mooney Summer School in Drumshambo. In 2003, she graduated with a Masters Degree in Performance in Traditional Irish Music from The Irish World Music Centre, University of Limerick.
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