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Gradam Ceoil TG4

Connie O’Connell – Composer of the Year


Connie O’Connell is a fiddle player and composer from Cill na Martra, in the Muscraí Gaeltacht of West Cork. His father’s side of the family had a history of fiddle playing, and his mother played the melodeon at local house dances, however O’Connell’s playing was self-taught. His style has been influenced by renowned fiddle players of the nearby Sliabh Luachra area including Denis Murphy, Pádraig O’Keeffe and Julia Clifford.
As a recording artist, O’Connell featured on Ceol go Maidin (1992), a Comhaltas recording with flute player Seamus MacMathuna and accordion player Jimmy Doyle. In 2000, he released his first solo album, Ceol Cill na Martra, on the Shanachie label. The album featured a collection of tunes composed by O’Connell, including ‘The Torn Jacket’ which has become a well-known piece within Irish traditional music. In 2014 he released Bóithrín na Smaointe – a double CD of his compositions recorded with his daughter, Áine, along with a book containing the tunes. University College Cork, where O’Connell has taught fiddle since the 1980’s, has hosted this Bóithrín na Smaointe project as a free online learning resource. O’Connell also featured in a recent book by Jessica Cawley, Becoming an Irish Traditional Musician: Learning and Embodying Musical Culture, in which he spoke about his musical career and how he developed his style.