An tAcadamh Ceoil

About us

Maggie Maguire, Co-Ordinator, Acadamh Ceoil

Maggie Maguire is a traditional Irish fiddle player and teacher from Derrygonnelly, Co. Fermanagh. From a stylistically-reputed family of musicians, she has achieved various All-Ireland competition awards, and has appeared on several Irish and international television and radio programmes, including TG4’s Geantraí and BBC’s Blas Ceoil. She studied Music to degree and Masters Level under Dr. Liz. Doherty at the Ulster University, Derry City (UU). Leader of the 2014 All-Ireland-winning Knockmore Céilí Band, she has broadcast with them in the 2015 TG4 series Stáir na mBannaí. Maggie has been involved also in the organisation of festivals and other events including UU’s Trad on Campus (2009-2011), The North Atlantic Fiddle Convention (NAFCo – Derry/Donegal, 2012), The International Council for Traditional Music (Derry, 2011), Celtic Colours (Cape Breton, Canada, 2010 & 2015). She has performed with artistes including Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, The Chieftains, and Liz Doherty and Fiddlesticks. She has played in Ireland and abroad with CCÉ’s Tour across Ireland, in Britain and America, and at festivals including including Ar Áis Arís (Co. Donegal), Tonder (Denmark), Dolans’ (Co. Limerick), Celtic Colours (Canada) and Celtic Connections (Scotland).

Our tutors

We are delighted to announce our line-up of top tutors for the 2016-2017 teaching year below, with more tutors to be added. An tAcadamh Ceoil is partnered with Ulster University, The Irish Harp Centre and Na Píobáirí Uilleann and our teaching provision is regularly monitored and evaluated.

Tom Byrne (Harmonica)

Tom Byrne, from Buncrana, Co. Donegal plays chromatic harmonica, diatonic harmonica, accordion and piano and plays a variety of styles including traditional, blues and classical music. He also composes and has received a number of commissions in this regard, including a Legacy Trust UK Comment8 Project collaboration in 2012 with the celebrated poet Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill. In 2009 he released a harmonica CD which featured fiddler Frankie Gavin and in 2016 was awarded the ‘LiveIreland Male Musician of the Year Award’ and, from the annual Chicago Irish American News, ‘Top Tradition in Review Awards Male Musician of the Year.’

Ciaran Carlin (Flute, Tin-Whistle)

From a well-known music family in Derry, Ciaran Carlin started to learn tin-whistle at the age of eight moving on to the flute when he was 12 under the tutelage of Sean Gallagher and Marcas Ó Murchú. He won two All-Ireland titles in Ballina Co.Mayo and in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. He recently completed a music degree at Ulster University and is member of the band Connla, hailed by the Chicago Irish American News as ‘the hottest new group out of Northern Ireland.”

Niamh Dunne (Fiddle)

Niamh Dunne is a highly accomplished singer, fiddler and composer from Co. Limerick. She has been a member of the world-renowned band Beoga for the last 10 years with whom she has toured extensively and recorded 5 CDs.  The Wall Street Journal describes them as “the most exciting new traditional band to emerge from Ireland this century.” Niamh has grown up steeped in music, song and tradition. A well-respected classical violinist, she twice received the High Achievers Award from the London Associated Board of Western Art Music, with whom she is a qualified teacher.

Brona Graham (Banjo)

Brona Graham, from Portglenone, Co. Antrim is hailed as one of the most influential up and coming banjo players around. A graduate of the Irish World Academy at the University of Limerick, she has been teaching the banjo and mandolin for over ten years at local Comhaltas classes, privately and at workshops throughout Ireland, Scotland and as far afield as America and Canada. Brona also performs regularly with the well known group Beoga and features on all four of their CD releases.

Edwina Guckian (Sean nós  dance)

Edwina Guckian hails from Drumsna, Co. Leitrim. She learned her dancing from her mother and the local dancers of Leitrim and Roscommon. Having started teaching dancing at the age of 15, Edwina has now taught her steps and toured with shows and bands in every continent all over the world. She has shared the stage with some of Ireland’s most influential acts such as De Danann, Dervish, Mairtín O Connor, Frankie Gavin, Kíla, Martin Hayes, Brendan Power, Tim Edey, Séamus Begley, We Banjo 3 and John Carty.In 2015/2016 Edwina has been involved in a project The Leitrim Equation – a performance in music, words and dance. Working with artists Eleanor Shanley, Vincent Woods, Padraig McGovern, Donal Lunny, Dave Sheridan and John McCartin, The Leitrim Equation appeared in the Cornmill Theatre Carrigallen, RADA Studios London, The Samuel Beckett Theatre Dublin and The Dock Arts Centre Carrick on Shannon where it was filmed for a DVD to be launched later this year.

Janet Harbison (Harp)

Janet Harbison was born in Dublin in 1955 and came to early prominence as a classical pianist as well as a traditional Irish harp player. At Trinity College Dublin, the Dublin College of Music and Cork University, she studied performance, composition and conducting. By 1981, she had won every national Irish harp competition including the All Ireland Championship and a number of international prizes including the Isle of Man Millennium Competition and Festival International de laHarpe Celtique.After some years of performing world-wide and composing film music, she became involved in working with music toward peace in Northern Ireland. In 1984, she was awarded a Research Fellowship at the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s University where her doctoral research concerned the Irish harp in Irish life and politics in the late 18th century. Her wish to bring the old Irish harp music to a world audience, as well as to bring musicians together in the divided community of Northern Ireland, lead to the formation of the Belfast Harp Orchestra in 1992. Over 10 years, the orchestra undertook many concert tours of Ireland, the UK, America and Europe, winning a Grammy Award with the Chieftains and many prizes for their work in Peace and Reconciliation. For X years Janet has been the Director of the Irish Harp Centre in Limerick and is one the recognized leaders of Irish harp pedagogy nationally and internationally; in 2016, she is expanding this venture and we are delighted to welcome The Irish Harp Centre to it’s new Northern Ireland base at the Acadamh Ceoil.

Kieran Leonard (Snare, drum kit, tin-whistle)

Kieran Leonard is a Timpanist, Percussionist, Drummer and Irish Music specialist from Enniskillen, County Fermanagh and is currently active in the lively London orchestral scene as a free-lance musician He graduated from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London in 2014 with a BMus in Orchestral Percussion & Timpani, and with a Postgraduate Diploma in 2015. He is the featured bodhran soloist on the soundtrack for the movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and has worked closely with composers such as John Powell. He works regularly with the world-renowned English National Opera, based in London’s Coliseum, Covent Garden, playing percussion in productions including La Boheme, Madama Butterfly and Carmen. Other orchestral dates include the UK Philharmonic, English National Orchestra, performing with Take That at London’s O2 Arena and as Principal Timpani & Percussionist with NI Opera for the world premiere of Long Story Short: A Belfast Opera in 2016.
Kieran is an experienced teacher and performer having played all across Europe and South America including Brazil, Ecuador & Chile. He has also lead master classes at the ‘Le Bono’ festival Brittany, is a resident teacher at the Junior Davey Bodhran Academy in Gurteen, Co. Sligo and is touring with the incredibly popular Irish Dance Show, Celtic Legends. He has been on two Comhaltas tours in 2012 to Britain & North America, is the drummer for “Goitse Big Band” that has included performances at the Milwaukee Irish Fest, USA (2015) and has recorded drums with the National Folk Orchestra of Ireland for Michael Rooney’s Boroimhe Suite. Kieran is also the Drummer for the Knockmore Ceili Band, All-Ireland champions 2014 and individually has won 5 All-Ireland Medals including both the Senior Drums and Senior Bodhran at Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann He has made numerous television and radio appearances featuring on BBC, TG4, RTE, Raidió na Gaeltachta, Ceili House and CBC. Kieran is also a proud endorsee of Metloef Drums, Falconwood Tippers, and is a Protection Racket Artist.

Gino Lupari (Bodhrán)

From Magherafelt, Co. Derry, Gino Lupari is one of  the most famous bodhrán players in the world. He is a founder member of the well-loved Four Men and a Dog who burst onto the scene at the Belfast Folk Festival in 1990, with a high-energy approach that combined furious traditional dance tunes with irreverent new music and inimitable covers. In 2016 the band celebrated 25 years with a new CD release, And the Band Played On. Gino is also a terrific singer and a dedicated teacher of  Irish music. He has toured all over the world and played with many great artists including Four Man and a Dog and The Rambling Boys.

James McCaffrey (Tin-whistle)

James McCaffrey is a whistle/flute player from Dromore, Co. Tyrone and is current All-Ireland Whistle Champion. He started playing from a young age and was immediately immersed into a strong music circle in his local town of Dromore. He is a member of the Blackwater Ceili Band and travels across Ireland playing and teaching at music festivals.

Seamus McGuire (Fiddle)

Séamus McGuire has been recognized for many years as one of Ireland’s most versatile fiddle-players, equally at home in his traditional band, Buttons and Bows, and his more classical ensemble, The West Ocean String Quartet.Born into the richly musical environment of Co.Sligo, his musical background was diverse – in his early years he studied classical violin while embracing the traditional fiddle styles of his native county. These dual influences were to have a lasting effect, contributing to the development of his highly distinctive performance style. By the age of sixteen, Séamus had already won the prestigious Fiddler of Dooney competition, and was already recognised as one of the country’s finest young traditional players. A few years later, his interest in classical violin playing lead him to join the Dublin Symphony Orchestra.  He is well known for his recordings and outstanding performances with the group, Buttons and Bows which he formed in 1983 with his brother Manus, the accordion-player Jackie Daly, and mandocellist Garry O’Briain. The group has been credited with introducing the music of Shetland, Scandanavia, Quebec and Ontario to wider Irish music audiences. His recording, The Missing Reel – with Leitrim flute-player John Lee – explored the forgotten tunes of County Leitrim and the manuscripts of Stephen Grier and Alex Sutherland. Séamus’s solo recording, The Wishing Tree, inspired by the poetry of Seamus Heaney, was named by The Irish Times as one of the top five traditional recordings in Ireland in 1995.

Des McGonagle (Guitar, Tin-whistle)

Des McGonigle from Inishowen, Co. Donegal, has been playing music from a young age, starting on tin whistle at 7, fiddle at 8, banjo at 10 and adding various other other instruments over the years. A full-time traditonal music teacher and the founder of the school Inish Music Lessons he has also recorded with The Big Electric Ceili Band and is working on a solo album of his own compositions.

Damian McKee (Button Accordion)

Damian McKee from Dunloy, Co. Antrim, is a top exponent of the button accordion and is a member of renowned Irish band Beoga. In the ‘90s he toured Ireland, Britain and America with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and over the last few years he has continued to travel worldwide as his music became popular within Irish dance circles. He is a prolific composer and many of his works feature in the Beoga repertoire. Through his teaching, Damian’s influence on traditional accordion playing in the North of Ireland is far-reaching. He is in frequent demand for workshops throughout Ireland, as well as the USA and Canada.

Eugene McKenna

Louise McKinney (Tin-whistle, Flute)

Louise McKinney, from Inishowen, Co. Donegal, began playing music at the age of seven and quickly found success at the Fleadh Cheoil winning multiple All-Ireland medals on tin whistle, flute and singing. Louise continued her love of music and studied for a BMus and Masters degree in music Ulster University. She has has shared the stage with some of the best musicians in Ireland as well as having toured with Irish dancing shows Fuaim Connemara and The Turning Tide. Louise has featured on TG4’s Geantraí and played with Buncrana’s Dinny Mc Laughlin on his most recent CD and DVD. She has taught music extensively since the age of sixteen and thoroughly enjoys encouraging children to reach their potential.

Marcus Ó Murchú

Marcas Ó Murchú is originally from Belfast but has been living in Derry for many years. He is a master of the rolling northwestern style of flute-playing with Leitrim, Donegal, Roscommon, Sligo and Ulster influences. A superb flute player and teacher of thirty years standing. He has taught at many of the music schools throughout the country and internationally including Ulster University and The Willie Clancy school. His life dedicated to preserving the traditions of Ireland, his publications and research were internationally recognised when he was awarded the title Ard Ollamh, chief Irish Bard, at the Fleadh Cheoil in 2013.

Lauren O’Neill (Harp)

Lauren O’Neill from Glenullin, Co. Derry learned harp from an early age at the Hampsey Harp School in Garvagh. She is an All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil finalist, and has shared a stage with Alan Kelly & Eddi Reader, Enda Seery, Darren Breslin and a host of Ireland’s best musicians. She currently studies Irish & Music at Ulster University and performs with Ceoltóirí Crosskeys. Lauren has had the privilege of playing for President Michael D. Higgins in Dublin Castle and the European Parliament in Brussels. Over the years, Lauren has had masterclasses with world-class harpists, such as Catriona McKay, Gráinne Hambly and Laoise Kelly. She has been teaching music for over 5 years and has a host of young harpists under her guidance.

Liam O Scanlon (Sean nós dance)

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Stephen Rooney

Guitar and banjo player Stephen Rooney is one of a family of six talented musicians from Co. Down who has several All-Ireland medals to his credit. In 2007 the family band won the Danny Kyle Award at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow. Stephen is a member of the band Ciorras who were assembled by Donal Lunny for the television programme Lorg Lunny and with them has toured Germany, France, Austria , Switzerland, Luxembourg and China. He is also a founder member of the band ‘Venue i’. He has recorded and performed with artists such as Liz Doherty, Beoga and Pauline Scanlon. In addition, a number of his compositions have been used on television documentaries on both the BBC and RTE.

Jack Warnock (Guitar)

Jack Warnock is a multi-instrumentalist (piano, guitar banjo) and vocalist from Maghera, Co. Derry. As Guitar/Piano/Vocalist in the traditional groups Cóiriú and Meargánta he performed in the final of Siansa Gael Linn at the National Concert Hall, Dublin on multiple occasions, and at the Royal Albert Hall, London. He won the An Ré Nua (solo singing) competition in the lead-up to Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, 2013 in Derry and was placed 2nd in the 15-18 Accompaniment competition at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, 2014. He has shared the stage with many fantastic musicians, playing support for We Banjo 3, Ulaid, Brendan Mulholland and more. Jack has also provided accompaniment for musicians such as Liz Doherty, Darren Breslin and Troy MacGillivray over the past year. He is currently studying Irish with Music at the Magee Campus of Ulster University and is part of The Doc Flock who will be appearing at the Celtic Colours International Festival in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in October 2016.

Jim Woods (Bodhrán, Trad for Tots)

Jim Woods is a renowned bodhran and button accordion player. He has performed and toured internationally and recorded with bands such as Coisir, Derek Warfield & The Young Wolfe Tones, Sessions from the Hearth, the Brian Byrne Jazz Band and the U.S.-based, Apple Hill Chamber Players. He has several recordings and tv appearances to his credit. Jim has performed at festivals such as the Celtic Colours International Festival in Canada and the Milwaukeee Irish Festival. Locally, he managed the schools programme for the Ar Ais Aris Festival 2005-2008); he also performers regularly as part of the Trad Lads – their Wednesday night sessions in O’Flaherty’s Bar are a Buncrana staple! As a teacher Jim has taught at many music workshops and events and is a regular tutor at many of the popular summer schools around Ireland such as Ag Seinm in Cavan.

Priscilla Connolly (Traditional Piano)

Priscilla Connolly is an experienced musician and teacher of the piano, button accordion and voice. She has studied piano to Diploma level, and is an All-Ireland champion. Additionally Priscilla has attained Grade 8 with distinction in voice. She has toured Ireland with Comhaltas and currently performs in a band at venues throughout Ireland. She studied at Queen’s University, where she was awarded her Bachelor of Music with Honours. She then furthered her studies at the University of Ulster, attaining a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. Priscilla teaches Music to A-Level at St Columb’s College and is also an examiner for CCEA.

Gay McKeon (Uilleann Pipes)

Gay McKeon took an interest in uilleann piping in the 1960s under the tutelage of the renowned piper and pipe-maker Leo Rowsome at the Piper’s Club on Thomas Street in Dublin’s city centre. Understandably, Leo had a profound influence on Gay’s playing as did the other musicians who taught at and visited the club including the uilleann pipers Tommy Reck, Dan O’Dowd, Seán Seery and Willie Clancy. After Leo Rowsome’s death in 1970, Gay sourced much of his repertoire from published collections including Breathnach’s Ceol Rince Na hÉireann. Gay has recorded and toured with artists including Christy Moore, Maddy Prior and June Tabor and has recorded on numerous compilation albums including The Drones and Chanter Vol. 2 and The Piper’s Rock, as well as a solo album Irish Piping Tradition, and a trio CD with his two sons Conor and Seán entitled The Dusty Miller. Whilst living in London in the mid 1970s Gay recorded Music from West Clare and Galway with Bobby Casey, Raymond Roland, John Roe, and Liam Farrell. Since the mid 1970s Gay has toured and broadcast extensively as a soloist. He also teaches piping regularly at summer schools and music festivals. Gay has performed on three volumes of the acclaimed tutor series The Art of Uilleann Piping. He has also produced and directed publications including The Pipers Choice DVD series and numerous CD recordings published by Na Píobairí Uilleann. He has produced traditional music concerts including Piperlink which has toured in Ireland and North America. Gay continues to perform regularly at festivals in Ireland and internationally and is a regular contributor to broadcasts on radio, television and film productions.

Eilís Lavelle (Harp)

Harp player and teacher Eilís Lavelle is from Monaghan. She began learning music at a young age through the Armagh Pipers Club. She has won many awards and accolades including All-Ireland Fleadh titles, the Oireachtas and the O’Carolan Cup at the ESB Feis Cheoil. Having completed her BMus degree at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, under the supervision of Denise Kelly-McDonnell and Gráinne Hambly, she was awarded the Leo Rowsome award for the highest achievement in traditional music 2013. She completed a Masters in Music at Queen’s University in Belfast in 2014 and is currently undertaking a PhD in music, focusing on old harp collections and music from the 1800s. Eilís has premiered contemporary works by Linda Buckley (RTÉ’s in house composer 2012), with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and has performed in the O2, Dublin as part of the Notre Dame Gathering alongside Noel Eccles. She is also member of the band Skipper’s Alley, who have released their first album following a win of the coveted Loic Raison competition in Lorient, Brittany.

Paddy Kenny (Tin Whistle)

Paddy Kenny, from Derry City began playing the whistle at the age of six, developing through the local Comhaltas branch based in the city. He is also classically trained and has achieved Grade 8 in Clarinet. He has been teaching Tin Whistle in Derry for the past 5 years, bringing through young talent and helping them achieve success in competitions and grades. He has performed in France and also at the European Parliament in Brussels as part of the efforts to bring Fleadh 2013 to Derry.

Katriona Meehan (Fiddle and Banjo)

Katriona Meehan who hails from a musical family, began playing the fiddle at the age of six. Originally from Co Armagh and now living in Derry she has become a well-respected music teacher within the city. She has developed her music passion by completing a BMus degree in music through the University of Ulster. Katriona has made a number of appearances on television and radio over the years and performed in front of the president Michael D Higgins at the opening ceremony of the Fleadh in 2013 and more recently played at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Joe McGuiggan (Traditional Step and Sean Nos Dance Tutor)

Joe was born in Bellaghy, County Derry.  He attended Irish dancing classes from the age of 7 – 18 years and has continued dancing since in the old traditional style. He won the All Ireland Traditional Step dance competition at Fleadh Amhran agus Rinnce in 1991, and was second place in the Sean Nos dance competition at Oireachtas Na Samhna in 2006. He is interested in passing on the traditional style of step dancing from Derry, and Donegal where he now resides.  He has been teaching Traditional Step and Sean Nos dance for many years, and in Culturlann Uí Chanáin since 2012.  He teaches a wide range of dances suitable for both beginners and people who have danced previously.


Master & Apprentice House Session

Posted: 03 December 2016

Featuring Scottish Harpist Catriona McKay and Ulster University student Lauren O’Neill Date: Sunday 4th December 2016 Time: 5.00pm Venue: Acadamh Ceoil Chaoimhín Uí Dhochartaigh An...

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World Fiddle Day celebrations in Derry

Posted: 18 April 2016

Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin’s brand new traditional music academy has organised a full day of events to celebrate World Fiddle Day on Saturday 21st May. World...

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6 Week Sessions Beginning This Month

Posted: 12 April 2016

Special introductory offer – 6 weeks for £60 for 30 min one-to one lessons with top tutors An tAcadamh Ceoil are offering a chance for...

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Master & Apprentice House Session

Sunday 26 February 2017

Venue: An tAcadamh Ceoil

Price: Free

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Acadamh Ceoil End of Year Showcase 2017

Friday 16 June 2017

Venue: An tSeaneaglais (The Glassworks)


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