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About the Director

gaelic roots

Seamus Connolly

Séamus Connolly, BC's Sullivan Artist-in-Residence, is one of the world's most respected master Irish musicians. A native of Killaloe, County Clare, Ireland, he resides in Maine. Séamus has won the Irish National Fiddle Championship 10 times; a feat unequalled by any other musician. He has also been named winner of the internationally acclaimed "Fiddler of Dooney" Competition. Most recently, Seamus has been named a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor by the National Ethnic Coalitiion of Organizations (NECO). The medal pays tribute to American citizens for their outstanding contributions to their communities, their nation and the world. http://www.bc.edu/content/bc/publications/chronicle/FeaturesNewsTopstories/2013/news/connolly050913.html

He was inducted into the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann Hall of Fame and named as the 2002 Top Irish Traditional Musician in North America by The Irish Echo, National Irish-American Newspaper.

Séamus grew up in a home filled with music; both his parents and two brothers were musicians. His brother Martin Connolly, a button accordionist, has also won the National Championship a number of times.

At the young age of 12, he began playing the fiddle. His father encouraged him to listen to the recordings of famed County Sligo fiddler Michael Coleman, who would later become one of his musical heroes. Séamus would slow down the Maestro's 78 rpm recordings, re-tuning his own fiddle to match the sounds and tones of the record. That process enabled him to hear each note so clearly that he 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 and traveled with the band throughout Ireland and Britain, playing for dances, concerts, radio and television programs.

In 1972 Séamus came to the United States as a member of the first Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann (CCE) tour, an ensemble of 26 musicians, singers, and dancers.  He immigrated to America in 1976 and settled in the Boston area. At the request of Larry Reynolds, President of the local branch of CCE, Séamus agreed to teach and thereby 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, and Ireland. In 1990 Séamus 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. In 2003, Séamus was nominated for a National Fellowship Award.

Séamus has also appeared on the nationally televised "Today Show" and was profiled by Boston's WCVB-TV5 program, "Chronicle." 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. A program that 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). In addition, Séamus produced with Laurel Martin, a colleague and fiddle teacher in the Boston College Irish Studies Program, a book of Irish tunes with two accompanying CDs entitled, Forget Me Not: A Collection of 50 Memorable Traditional Irish Tunes, released in June 2002 by Mel Bay Publications. The music is printed and recorded slowly in both simple and more highly ornamented versions.

Séamus, an Adjunct Professor in the Music Department, is Director of The Boston College Irish Studies Music, Song, Dance, Workshop, and Lecture Series. His website can be accessed by clicking here.



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)
  • Forget Me Not: A Collection of 50 Memorable Traditional irish Tunes (Mel Bay Productions, 2002)

Awards:

  • 2013 Recipient of The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, awarded by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO)
    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)
  • 1999 named one of the Top 100 Irish Americans by "Irish America Magazine."
  • Inducted into the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann Hall of Fame, 2002.
  • Top Irish Traditional Musician in North America 2002, presented by "The Irish Echo."

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"