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Recommended Players

Photo © Tony Kearns


Thanks to Hervé Yésou of Strasbourg, France for his many contributions to this list.

If you’re a beginner and just want a short list of influential players with widely available recordings that’ll expose you to a range of styles, here are my five personal recommendations, in alphabetical order: Harry Bradley, Catherine McEvoy, Matt Molloy, Conal O’Grada, and Mike Rafferty. I also think any Irish flute player would benefit from listening to older recordings of seminal figures such as Paddy Carty and John McKenna, and to seek out recordings of players with strong personal or regional styles such as Joe Bane, Jack Coen, Kevin Henry, and Cathal McConnell. Beyond Irish, I’d recommend listening to Jean-Michel Veillon and Chris Norman for their sheer virtuosity and musicality. If you’re looking for more modern-style players (most of whom are perfectly capable of playing in pure traditional styles as well), start with Sylvain Barou, Conor Byrne, Kevin Crawford, Brian Finnegan, and Mike McGoldrick. You can also get a good introduction to a variety of flute-playing styles through the Wooden Flute Obsession CD series.

If you have trouble finding recordings, try any of the following distributors: Ossian USA, Claddagh Records (Ireland), Elderly Instruments (USA), or Custy’s Music (Ireland). Many of these should also be available through Amazon and other online sources such as iTunes. Doing Google searches will usually turn up recordings, and it’s worth looking through youtube and vimeo for videos; that’s a great way to hear and see a wide variety of flute players.

NOTE: Be sure to check out the excellent discography of Irish flute music on Gordon Turbull’s web site, The Flow.

If you’d like to suggest a player who’s not in the list, please contact me.

First NameLast NameDescriptionWebsiteWebsite 2
Eoghan Mac Aogain Two recordings on mostly Eb flutes, "Le Fonn" and "The Clare Hills"
Seamus MacMathuna Flute player from Cooraclare
Joanie Madden One of the best contemporary Irish traditional players on Boehm-system flute Wikipedia page
Claire Mann Great flute and fiddle player who has won All-Ireland championships on flute and whistle Claire Mann website
Emer Mayock Excellent Dublin-based flute player Emer Mayock website
Johnny McCarthy Fine flute player from Co. Cork Johnny McCarthy page, CIT Cork School of Music
Cathal McConnell Influential flute player and singer from Fermanagh, best known for his work with The Boys of the Lough Profile of Cathal in The Living Tradition magazine
June McCormack Brilliant Sligo flute player. See website for details on recordings June McCormack and Michael Rooney website
Josie McDermott Late, great Sligo flute and whistle player, singer, tune composer, and multi-instrumentalist Wikipedia page
Catherine McEvoy Brilliant Roscommon-style flute player Video of a performance by Catherine McEvoy. Use Google to search for her several CDs
Paul McGlinchey Three-time All-Ireland senior flute champion from Tyrone Paul McGlinchey website
Michael McGoldrick Award-winning Irish flute player, also whistle and uilleann pipes Wikipedia page
Harry McGowan Great flute player from Carrowdore, Co. Sligo Harry McGowan's flute playing can be heard on The Mountain Road compilation CD
Peg McGrath The late Peg McGrath inspired many other women to start playing Irish music on the flute Album, "Cherish the Ladies," with Kathleen Smyth and Mary Mulholland
Paul McGrattan Accomplished, powerful flute player originall from Dublin; has recorded a number of CDs Album, Keelwest, released in 2003, is still available
John McKenna Very influential Leitrim flute player who recorded in the 1920s and 30s Wikipedia page
Skip McKinley Connecticut based Irish flute player and composer CD, "Fairytales" released in 2009
Michael and Ciaran McNamara Flute players from Leitrim's McNamara family Family CD, "Leitrim's Hidden Treasure" is a classic
Martin Meehan Flute and whistle player originally from Manchester, now living in Armagh Martin Meehan website
Matt Molloy Legendary Roscommon flute player Matt Molloy's website