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Present Day 2000s–

In the 21st century, the Irish of New York no longer live in many of the city neighbourhoods that echoed with the sound of jigs and reels in the 78 rpm era or the heyday of the traditional music revival. Almost all the Irish bars that once lined Broadway in Inwood and Bainbridge Avenue in the Bronx are gone. You don’t hear many brogues on the streets of Woodside and Sunnyside in Queens these days. Immigration from Ireland is down to a trickle, and Irish Americans continue to heed the siren call of the suburbs.      

It could be said that the city has lost some of its Celtic character, but there are still strongholds where the Irish have sunk deep roots and show no signs of leaving. Irish tricolours still wave alongside the Stars and Stripes on Katonah Avenue in Woodlawn in the Bronx, on McLean Avenue just over the city line in Yonkers, on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens and, especially, in and around Pearl River in suburban Rockland County.

In those core Irish neighbourhoods, families still send their kids to traditional music classes, and a corps of dedicated teachers continue to turn out new generations of talented young musicians.   

See also Recordings // Images // Individual performer's pages

Kevin Crawford

Kevin, a flute player, grew up in Birmingham, England to parents from Miltown Malbay, County Clare. He learned his music in Birmingham’s Irish community before moving in 1989 to west Clare, where he recorded with the groups Grianan, Raise the Rafters and Moving Cloud before being called up in 1997 to replace Mike McGoldrick in the group Lúnasa. In addition to playing flute, whistles and bodhrán with the band, Kevin quickly took over the frontman role on stage. In addition to recordings with Lúnasa, Kevin has issued a solo CD, a recording of duets with various fiddlers, collaborations with bandmates Cillian Vallely and Colin Farrell, and a disc with New York fiddler Dylan Foley. He has also toured with Martin Hayes and John Doyle as “The Teetotallers.” Kevin now makes his home in Brooklyn.

Rose Flanagan

Brian Conway’s sister Rose is an outstanding fiddler in her own right. Like Brian, she started lessons with Martin Mulvihill and got private tutoring from Sligo fiddle legend Martin Wynne. Rose is one of the leading Irish music teachers in the New York area and has also served on the faculty of the Catskills Irish Arts Week, the O’Flaherty Retreat, the Swannanoa Gathering and other summer music schools. With Baltimore flute player Laura Byrne, she released the album Forget Me Not.

Dylan Foley

Though he now lives in Tennessee, Dylan established his mighty reputation as a fiddle player in New York. He grew up in the Hudson Valley town of Highland where his parents Tom and Anne encouraged his musical bent. He took lessons from Rose Flanagan and listened intently to two Hudson Valley master musicians, Roscommon-born flute and whistle player Mike McHale and concertina player Fr. Charlie Coen. He is a senior All-Ireland champion and, according to no less an authority than Brian Conway, “one of the finest fiddlers of his generation.” He has recorded with The Yanks, with Dan Gurney and with flute player Josh Dukes.

Patty Furlong

Patty, an accordion player, grew up in the Bronx. Her father played the old D/C# Irish-American button accordion but wanted Patty to play the piano accordion, which he thought was more “American.” Patty preferred the button box and eventually got her way. She started on the C#/D system but alternates now with a B/C box. As a student of Martin Mulvihill, she was a successful fleadh competitor, taking a teenage All-Ireland championship. Her trio partners of the day were Margie Mulvihill and Rose Flanagan, who are today her partners in teaching at the Pearl River School of Music. She performed in the original Cherish the Ladies concerts, had recorded a solo CD and once featured as a guest performer with the Chieftains.

Ivan Goff

Dublin-born uilleann piper Ivan Goff’s musical mentors were piping greats Dan O’Dowd and Mick O’Brien. He has performed with Dervish, Danú, Lúnasa, Téada, Mick Moloney’s Green Fields of America and other groups, most recently, Ghost Trio with Iarla Ó Lionáird and Cleek Schrey. Ivan is a veteran of Riverdance, Peter and Wendy and other theatrical and film productions, and has played with symphony orchestras, including a concerto for pipes performed with the Albany Symphony Orchestra. He recently completed a PhD in music at New York University and lives with his fiddle-playing wife Katie Linnane in Pearl River.

Dan Gurney

Dan, an accordion player, grew up in the Hudson Valley town of Rhinebeck, a short train ride from the big city. He started out on a toy button accordion but by age seven was playing the real thing. His chief musical inspiration was Fr. Charlie Coen, then attached to a parish in nearby Red Hook. The musical priest instilled in Dan a passion for old-time traditional music played without flash or excessive speed. He has recorded a solo CD, an album with fiddler Dylan Foley and one with the band The Yanks. He currently lives in Dublin with his flute-playing wife Christina Dolphin and young daughter Saoirse.

Erin Loughran

Erin, a fiddle player, runs the Erin Loughran School of Irish Music and Arts classes are conducted in Woodlawn and across the Hudson in Pearl River. Teachers include Erin herself on the fiddle, Seagda Coyle on the button accordion, Brenda Dowling Kane on flute, tin whistle and concertina, Fiona Staunton on whistle and flute and John Paul Reynolds on the tenor banjo.

Don Meade

Don Meade was born in 1954 to Irish-American parents from the Boston area who moved the family to southern California in 1957. He was introduced to Irish music by the recordings of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and, when he got his first harmonica in 1965, started playing melodies from those LP’s. Don also played the trumpet in a marching band and took up the guitar. He moved to New York City in 1976, where he encountered musicians from the older Irish instrumental tradition. In 1982, Don acquired a tenor banjo and started playing at Monday night sessions at the former Eagle Tavern. After his first trip to Ireland in 1986, he also took up the fiddle. In 1987, playing a chromatic harmonica, Don won the All-Ireland mouth organ competition at the fleadh in Listowel. It is perhaps no coincidence that chromatic players were subsequently barred from the competition.

In 1986, Don took charge of the weekly traditional music concert series at the Eagle Tavern and, when the bar closed in 1993, moved the series to the Blarney Star until 2003, when that bar was sold. With support from Mick Moloney, a Global Distinguished Scholar at New York University, Don ran monthly concerts for NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House from 2004 until 2020.

In 1995, Don was the founding Artistic Director of the Catskills Irish Arts Week held in East Durham, New York. He continued in that post for six years and remains involved in the week. He was a traditional music columnist for ten years for the weekly Irish Voice newspaper and has contributed articles to Current Musicology, New York Irish History, The Companion to Irish Traditional Music and New Hibernia Review.

The dances at Kinvara, barndance ; If there weren't any women in the world, barndance / Don Meade, harmonica. Recorded by Terry Rafferty at the Eagle Tavern, New York, 21 July 1989

O'Donnell's hornpipe / Don Meade, harmonica. Recorded by Terry Rafferty at the Eagle Tavern, New York, 21 July 1989

Jack Coughlan's reel / Mike Rafferty, flute ; Don Meade, harmonica. Recorded by Terry Rafferty at the Eagle Tavern, New York, 21 July 1989

Margie Mulvihill

Margie’s parents came from north Kerry, and she made many trips to Ireland in her younger years. Her grand-uncle Jerry Mulvihill was a popular step dancer of the old Munster school. Fiddler and music teacher Martin Mulvihill was a cousin. She studied music with him, playing piano accordion and tin whistle, and was part of his All-Ireland champion Glinside Ceili Band. With Kerry singer Mary Courtney and fiddler Carmel Johnston, she formed the trio Morning Star, which stayed together with various musicians for twenty years. After the band broke up, Margie took up the wooden flute and studied with Mike Rafferty. Margie is a music teacher with the Pearl River School. Her daughters Erin, Blaithín and Neidín Loughran, and her son John Paul Reynolds, are all outstanding musicians.

Cillian Vallely

Uilleann piper Cillian’s parents Brian and Eithne Vallely founded the Armagh Pipers Club, a leading force in the revival and transmission of traditional music in the north. He got his initial instruction on the pipes from his father and studied with the late Mark Donnelly. Cillian lived for a few years in Boston before moving the New York City in the 1990s. In 1999, he joined the group Lúnasa and has toured and recorded seven albums with the group. He has also played with orchestras, on film scores, with Riverdance, and as a sideman on recordings by Natalie Merchant and Bruce Springsteen. Cillian has recorded duet CDs with his concertina-playing brother Niall and with Lúnasa flute player Kevin Crawford. He and his wife Katie and their three daughters live in Sunnyside, Queens. When not on tour, he can be heard on Sundays at the Dead Rabbit on Water Street.

Mick Moloney

Mick Moloney’s accomplishments in Irish music are many and various. He is, of course, a marvelous singer and a virtuoso player of all manner of fretted instruments. But in his long career he has also been the producer of recordings and documentary films, the author of books, the leader of the Green Fields of America troupe, and a winner of a National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Mick has taught ethnomusicology, folklore, music and Irish Studies at Villanova, Georgetown, the University of Pennsylvania and, most recently, New York University.

Willie Kelly

Willie and his brother Joe (now a Capuchin monk) were students of Martin Mulvihill. Willie is a devotee of the old-time style of fiddlers from east Galway and east Clare and formed a musical partnership with flute player Mike Rafferty. With Mike , he made the recording The New Broom. Willie and his wife Siobhán, a flute player from east Clare, have raised a large musical family and taught students young and old in New Jersey and at the Catskills Irish Arts Week.

Bernadette Fee

Bernadette “Bernie” Fee, a fiddle player, grew up in a family immersed in Irish music and dance. She is still active with the Parents and Students Irish Dancing and Music Association of North America, and annually leads a troupe of step dancing students up Fifth Avenue in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Bernie is an active performer in the traditional music pubs of the city and suburbs and occasionally wows a festival crowd by simultaneously dancing and playing the fiddle.

Katie Linnane

Katie, a fiddle player, grew up in Pearl River, New York, where her mother Kathy was an Irish music teacher and also studied with Willie Kelly. Now married to uilleann piper Ivan Goff, she also performs regularly with flute player Kevin Crawford and other top musicians at Swift Hibernian Lounge in Greenwich Village.

Jake James

Jake took up the fiddle at age seven in Queens, where he studied with Niall Mulligan. A two-time All-Ireland champion on the fiddle, he is also an outstanding bodhrán player and step dancer. Jake’s various talents have made him a much-sought-after stage performer and he has toured throughout North America, Ireland and Japan.

Ken Vesey

Ken, a fiddle player, is a member of a large musical family in New Jersey. A veteran fleadh competitor in his youth, he has an All-Ireland fiddle championship on his musical CV and performs regularly with his singing sister Kathleen, button accordionist brother John and banjo player Frank McCormick in the popular group Celtic Cross.

Patrick Mangan

A native of Brooklyn, Pat Mangan took violin lessons as a child and learned his Irish music from Brian Conway. Under Conway’s tutelage, he matured into a technically brilliant fiddler with a thorough grounding in the Sligo tradition. He parlayed those skills into a professional career in music, joining Riverdance on Broadway at the age of 16. He has since performed in over 30 countries but is back in New York, where he frequently performs in the Broadway hit show Come From Away and recently played with Clannad star Moya Brennan at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

John Redmond

John, an accordion player, came to New York in 1988 from Ballindaggan, County Wexford where as a youngster he took lessons from Tom Dunne and won an All-Ireland champion as a teenager. He has recorded two solo albums – East to Northeast and Box Sets, teaches at the Woodlawn Arts and Music House and has been a Traditional Irish Musician in Residence at Lehman College. He leads a Sunday session at An Beal Bocht in the Riverside section of the Bronx.

John Kennedy

John, an accordion player, was born in Inwood at the northern tip of Manhattan and raised in Dumont, New Jersey by his father Gerry from Inagh, County Clare and his mother Margaret from Claremorris in Mayo. With his cousin Eileen Clune, John made the long journey from northern New Jersey to Brooklyn regularly to study Irish music with Maureen Glynn and play in youth ceili bands. John’s musical specialty for over two decades has been playing for set dances in New Jersey and New York, and he has also taught the button accordion. He was inducted into the Mid-Atlantic Comhaltas Hall of Fame in 2022.

Eileen Clune Goodman

Eileen, a flute player, grew up in the Bronx before moving to Westwood, New Jersey. Her parents, immigrants from west Clare, were active members of the Doonbeg Social Club. Eileen attended the club dances and was soon sitting in with the older players. She studied the piano accordion with Martin Mulvihill, taught herself the whistle and went for further instruction to Maureen Glynn. She put the music aside for a few years as she went to university and then started a family and a career with the Federal Reserve Bank, but came back in the mid-90s, when she picked up the timber flute and got lessons from Sligo man Pat Casey. Soon she was teaching herself, as well as playing for dancing with the Green Gates Ceili Band, a group that included Pat Casey, Eileen’s button accordionist cousin John Kennedy and fiddler Rose Flanagan.

Frankie McCormick

Frankie, a banjo player, hails from Blackwatertown on the border of Counties Armagh and Tyrone, where his father was a leader of the local Comhaltas branch. He is left-handed and has a unique upside-down method of playing the tenor banjo that developed when he had to learn on an instrument strung for righties. Frankie made the move to America in 1986 and lived the hectic life of a carpenter by day and a bar band musician by night for many years. He now lives on Long Island and serves as the chair of the North American provincial board of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.

John Morrow

John, a banjo player, comes from a musical family in Carrigallen, County Leitrim. His brother plays with the well-known group Dervish. John himself is an All-Ireland champion on tenor banjo and mandolin. He arrived in New York well-traveled, having spent time in Australia and Canada. An experienced teacher, he has been on the staff of music teaching weeks in West Virginia and Texas. In New York, he plays frequently with Katie Linnane, Joanie Madden and other top local musicians.

Brendan Dolan

Brendan’s father Felix, a Bronx native, was one of the most renowned piano accompanists in Irish music, a member of the legendary New York Ceili Band who recorded with Andy McGann, Joe Burke and other greats. Brendan has followed those footsteps well and is the first-call keyboard man in New York Irish music, including for the all-star Pride of New York ensemble. Like his dad, he also plays the flute. A teacher by profession, Brendan has lectured and done archival work at New York University, composed film scores and commercial sound designs.

Annmarie Acosta Williams

Annmarie a piano accordion player from Queens, studied Irish dance with Jerry Mulvihill and Donny Golden and music with Maureen Glynn. From Maureen, she learned a sophisticated style of piano accompaniment to Irish dance music, a style that won her an All-Ireland accompaniment championship. But Annmarie is best known for her prodigious skill on the piano accordion, as well as for her dedication to teaching traditional music for over twenty years. She has a Masters degree in traditional music from the University of Limerick and has taught a course at Fordham University on Irish traditional music and dance.

Chris McLoughlin

Not many folks can make a living playing the piano accordion, but then not many piano accordionists can play like Chris McLoughlin. His mother Patsy Early McLoughlin has been one of the leading step dancing teachers in the U.S. for many years while his father Chris is a talented singer from Belfast. Chris specializes in music for the feis and is at the top of his field, constantly flying to play for dancers all over the U.S. as well as in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.