In the Beginning:
Fiachra is from Roundstone, Connemara, in the West of Ireland. Fiachra was immersed in traditional Irish music from a very young age and he started playing at the age of 11 on the tin whistle. He used to travel the 30 miles to Carna, South Connemara every week to Noreen O Sullivan, for those ever important first lessons, which shaped the unique and relaxed style that he plays in now. Soon after he became interested in the banjo and the local priest gave Fiachra a banjo to set him on his way. So now, equipped with his tin whistle and his banjo he traveled all over the country to summer schools and festivals, where he developed his technique and personal style. In ‘97, Fiachra once again enrolled in Scoil Acla, but having played both tin whistle and the banjo, he wanted to try a different instrument. The uilleann pipes. He didn’t have a set but borrowed a practice set from the NPU (Na Píobairí Uilleann). The class of beginner pipers followed their workshop teacher Mick Kilbane down to Keel, Achill Island, and in the local chip shop, Fiachra had his first Uilleann pipes lesson. He took to this instrument with such enthusiasm and it just seemed to fit with him. Soon after the summer school in Achill, Fiachra traveled to Kinvara to Eugene Lambe, who made him his first set of pipes. There was no one teaching the instrument in the local area so Fiachra traveled great distances for lessons, some of his teachers being Tommy Keane and Eamon Brophy.
Fiachra was very much influenced by the old South Connemara style and from an early age was privileged to hear sean-nós singers and music played for sets and sean-nós dancing unique to the area. Some of those who gave Fiachra great encouragement were Sean McKiernan, Padraig & Tommy Ceanabhain, Marcus Hernon & Johnny Connolly.
In 2000, Fiachra became good friends with an Australian music composer and very accomplished guitar player, Garry Jones. They decided to join forces and started performing as a guitar and pipes duet. Together they performed in Australia and at different venues around Ireland. Fiachra regularly plays in Central-Europe with a band based in Germany. All of this helped develop his technique and style further.
Fiachra has performed with The Chieftains, Sean Cannon from the Dubliner’s and Paddy Keenan. He has to his credit many prestigious titles including a Junior 1st place on the Uilleann Pipes in the Oireachtas competition, Senior All Ireland Champion on the Whistle Slow-Airs, Uilleann Pipes and Uilleann Pipes Slow-Airs.
Fiachra went to study woodwork in Letterfrack, Co. Galway and after graduating, work brought him to Sligo where he became heavily involved in the traditional music scene there and met and played with some of the best of the traditional musicians of the area. Fiachra is now touring with Quebec fiddle player Sophie Lavoie more info on the duo