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 Name||Last Name||Description||Website|
|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|
|Sean||Moloney||Galway-style playing on Boehm and simple system flutes, one of the Moloneys of Ballinakill||Sean Moloney website|
|Patsy||Moloney||Great flute player from Limerick||Album "Over the Bog Road" with John Regan on accordion|