Séamus Connolly Séamus Connolly is one of the world's most respected master Irish musicians. A native of Killaloe, County Clare, Ireland, he now resides in Groton, Massachusetts. Séamus won the Irish National Fiddle Championship 10 times, a feat unequalled by any other musician. He was also the winner of the internationally acclaimed "Fiddler of Dooney" Competition.

Séamus grew up in a home filled with music, both his parents and two brothers were musicians. His brother Martin Connolly, a button accordionist, also won the National Championship a number of times. Besides being an outstanding musician, Martin is also an accordion teacher and designer/maker of the Kincora Button Accordion.

Séamus was only 12 years old when he began playing the fiddle. His father encouraged him to listen to the recordings of the famed County Sligo fiddler Michael Coleman. Colman was later to became one of Séamus' musical heroes. Séamus would slow down the Maestro's 78 rpm recordings and re-tune his own fiddle to match the sounds and tones of the record. He could then hear every note clearly and was almost able to visualize the movements of the master's fingers and bow.

Before long, Séamus went on to national prominence. He was a regular performer on Irish radio and television. He joined the famous Kilfenora Céilí Band, an ensemble noted for its rhythms, musicality and rare tunes indigenous to North County Clare. He traveled with the band throughout Ireland and Britain, playing for dances, concerts, radio and television programs.

Séamus came to the United States in 1972 as a member of the first Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann (CCE) tour, an ensemble of 26 musicians, singers and dancers. In 1976 he immigrated to America and settled in the Boston area. At the request of Larry Reynolds, President of the local branch of CCE, Séamus agreed to teach and pass on to American-born students the various regional styles of Irish fiddling. Some of his better students qualified to compete in the Irish National Music Championships, one of them, Brendan Bulger, won first place in the under eighteen fiddle category, a competition Séamus had won twenty five years earlier.

Séamus has had the honor of representing Ireland on three "Masters of the Folk Violin" tours organized by the National Council for the Traditional Arts. He has performed at most major festivals in the United States, including the National Folk Festival, Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife, Wolf Trap Irish Folk Festival and American Roots Fourth of July Celebration at the Washington Monument. He also performed on the "Folk Masters" radio series, which was broadcast nationwide on National Public Radio. As a performer, teacher and lecturer, he has traveled to places as far afield as Australia, Spain, France, England, Canada, Alaska, and Ireland. In 1990 Seamus won a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship Award, one of three recipients from over 2,500 applicants. Refuge Arts (Country Roads) and the National Endowment for the Arts recognized Séamus' mastery by awarding him three consecutive Master/Apprenticeship Grants.

Séamus has also appeared on the nationally televised "Today Show" and was profiled by Boston's WCVB-TV5 "Chronicle Program." He initiated, produced and co-hosted with Larry Reynolds Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann's ongoing weekly radio program of traditional Irish music on WNTN-1550 AM Boston. The program is the only one of its kind in North America. He also co-hosted the Irish segments of Boston's WGBH National Public Radio series "Ethnicity."

Séamus has numerous recordings to his credit. Released on Green Linnet Records are his two solo CDs: Notes from my Mind and Here and There. Also released on Green Linnet Records is Banks of the Shannon, (a recording with the legendary accordionist Paddy O'Brien and pianist/composer Charlie Lennon) and Warming Up (a recording with accordionist/composer Martin Mulhaire, flutist Jack Coen and pianist Felix Dolan). Séamus is now collaborating with Laurel Martin, a colleague and fiddle teacher in the Boston College Irish Studies Program, to produce a book of Irish tunes with accompanying CDs. The music will be printed and recorded in both simple and more highly ornamented versions.

Seamus is Director of The Boston College Irish Studies Music, Song and Dance Program. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Music Department and is Director of the Gaelic Roots Summer School and Festival.



Discography:
  • Rambles of Kitty   (Comhaltas Records 1966)
  • Banks of the Shannon EP   (Comhaltas Records 1974)
  • Solos on the Human Voice   (Sounding Board Records 1978)
  • Notes from my Mind   (Green Linnet Records 1988)
  • Masters of Folk Violin  (Arhoolie Records 1989)
  • Here and There   (Green Linnet Records 1989)
  • Playing with Fire   (Green Linnet Records 1989)
  • Celts Rise Again   (Green Linnet Records 1990)
  • From the Heart   (Oenoke Records 1990)
  • My Love Is In America   (Green Linnet Records 1991)
  • Rights of Man   (Green Linnet Records 1991)
  • Dear Old Erin's Isle   (Nimbus Records 1992)
  • The Executive Session   (Stonington Island Records  1992)
  • Banks of the Shannon   (Green Linnet Records 1993)
  • Warming Up   (Green Linnet Records 1993)
  • Tara Hill  -- Roll on the Day  (Tara Hill Records 1993)
  • Were You at the Rock   (Beacon Records 1993)
  • Clare Connection   (Smokey Tinker Records 1993)
  • The Twentieth Anniversary Collection   (Green Linnet Records 1996)
  • Tommy Makem --Ancient Pulsing   (Red Biddy Records 1996)
  • The Gift   (Shanachi Records 1998)
  • The Vow   (North Star Inc. - Druid Stone Records 1999)
  • The Spirit of Christmas   (North Star Inc. - Druid Stone Records 1999)
Recordings Produced:
  • We're Irish Still   (Boston Comhaltas Records 1979)
  • Southern Shore   (by Brendan Bulger  1991)
  • The Keltic Kids   (Epona Records 1994)
  • Boston College - Gaelic Roots    (Kells Records 1997)
Books and Articles:
  • "Musical Heroes" Treoir Magazine (Comhaltas Publication 1991)
  • Irish Music Tune Book (in production)
Awards:
  • 10 Time Irish National Fiddle Champion
  • Winner of the internationally acclaimed "Fiddler of Dooney" Competition
  • 2nd Place Winner:  Radio Telefís Éireann's National Music Competition for Best Musician (on any instrument)
  • 1990 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship Award (one of 3 recipients from 2,500 applications)
  • 1990, 1991 and 1992 Boston Music Awards nominee
  • Solo recording "Here and There" chosen one of the top 5 Celtic records for 1990 by The National Assn. of Independent Record Distributors (NAIRD)


Selected Performances and Appearances:

  • Smithsonian Institute's 1988 American Folklife Festival
  • Performed in the National Council for the Traditional Arts 49th, 50th and 51st National Folk Festivals (1987 - 1989)
  • International Folk Festival - Nice, France
  • Only American musician chosen to perform on "Na Ridiri's" 1st national tour of Australia
  • Profiled by Boston's WCVB-TV 5 "Chronicle Program"
  • NBC "Today Show"


Positions:

  • Music Director, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (Association of Traditional Irish Music) Boston Chapter
  • Adjunct Faculty, Phillips Academy Music  Department, Andover, MA
  • Initiated, produced and co-hosted Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann's weekly radio program of traditional Irish music on WNTN 1550 AM Boston
  • Co-hosted Irish segments of WGBH (National Public Radio) series titled "Ethnicity"