5 Irish Flute Players You Need To Hear

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5 Irish Flute Players You Need To Hear

10/26/2016 by Jeff Ksiazek

The sound of the flute has been a part of Irish music for generations. The wooden instrument typically associated with the Irish tradition is a simple-system flute that was favored by classical musicians of the early 1800s before the Boehm system came into favor. This means that the basic scales for these flutes are identical to instruments like the tin whistle, making it possible to play tunes on both instruments using the same fingerings.

It's hard to narrow down a list to only five important Irish flute players, but the following musicians will get you started listening to and learning about the flute in Irish music!

Tom Morrison (1889 - 1958)

Galway born Tom Morrison began making music on tin whistle before taking up Irish flute, accordion, and later the uilleann pipes. He immigrated to New York in 1909 and began recording 78 rpm discs in 1924, beginning with duets recorded with accordion player Peter Conlon. Morrison's style was rhythmic and driving, reminiscent of old fifing styles.

John McKenna (1880 - 1947)

John McKenna was another Irish flute player who recorded in the 78 rpm era. Born in County Leitrim, McKenna and his wife immigrated to New York in 1909 and was a member of the New York City Fired Department from 1920 to 1926. McKenna began recording in 1921 and produced a number of sides for the Columbia, Decca, and O'Byrne DeWitt labels.

Peter Horan (1926 - 2010)

Co. Sligo's Peter Horan was one of Ireland's best known flute players. Horan and fiddle player Fred Finn recorded and performed as a duo for decades around Killavil, Co. Sligo. In a county known for fiddlers like Michael Coleman and James Morrison, Horan developed a complementary flute style based on the South Sligo repertoire.

Catherine McEvoy (1956 - )

Catherine McEvoy's musical family hails from Co. Roscommon, but she was born and raised in Birmingham, England. Soaking up Irish music with her family and visiting mentors such as Peg McGrath and Josie McDermott, McEvoy continues the punchy, rhythmic flute style of the Roscommon/Sligo region.

Matt Molloy (1947 - )

Matt Molloy is one of Ireland's best known and highest regarded flute players. Born in Co. Roscommon, Molloy gained recognition as a member of the Bothy Band in the 1970s before replacing Michael Tubridy in the Chieftains in 1979. Molloy's highly oramented style has influenced many modern flute players.

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