I have been playing the flute since I was 14 years old. I can safely say it is one of the best
things that I have done and feel that it is one of the things that define who I am. As anyone
who plays Irish traditional music can state, there is immense enjoyment attached to playing
music, both in the actual playing itself and with the social interaction with others that comes
Between the years 1990 and 1995, I was three times All-Ireland senior flute champion
(1993, 1994 and 1995) and runner-up on two other occasions (1990, 1992). I also won the
All-Ireland flute slow airs competition in 1991, the miscellaneous instruments title in 1992
and, with Barry McLaughlin, the duet competition in 1993.
I was born and bred in Omagh, Co. Tyrone. Both my parents had a deep interest in Irish
music. My father came from a very rural area of Co. Tyrone near the village of Carrickmore
and would have heard many musicians come and play in houses in the locality in his youth.
My mother came from the townland of Carnaleck, near Tubbercurry in County Sligo, an area
synonymous with traditional Irish music. Several members of her family played music
including my uncles Gerard, Tommy and Packie McCarrick, and my cousins John Gildea and
Jack McCarrick. I remember house sessions in Sligo from a very early age.
I was also very fortunate to have excellent music teachers. Arthur Kearney was a wonderful,
kind, wise man who loved passing on the tradition to others. He taught a class over several
years at which I learned the tin whistle. He has sadly passed on. Sean McCusker was a flute
and accordion player from Dromore, near Omagh. He was a great teacher and I learned so
much from him. He too has passed away, at far too young an age.
The third reason I feel fortunate is that I had, in Barry McLaughlin, a good friend, of my age,
who was learning the ropes at the same time I was. He is a great fiddle player, a former
Fiddler of Dooney winner. He lived within walking distance of our own house. We played
together for years, at sessions and in competitions, with some success. We were also at
Queen’s University in Belfast at the same time. He now lives in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. In more recent years, my wife Deirdre has been a constant source of encouragement in
keeping me playing music despite the demands of our young family and my work.
Matt, Frances, Deirdre, Una, Aoife, Maebh, Jim McKee, Tom McElvogue, David Migoya,
Barry and Rona McLaughlin, Gerry McMahon, Danny O’Mahony, Brian and Mark Lavery,
Eoin O’Brien, Desi Adams, Jason O’Rourke, Breandan O’Hare, Sam Murray, Ruadhrai
O’Kane, Murrough O’Kane, the Boylan family, the O’Loughlin family, Denis Liddy, Mossie
Griffen, Shane McAleer, Raphael McDonnell, Hughie Hetherington, and to Claire O’Neill,
Brid Harper, Charlie Rice, Ryan Molloy, Stephen Hayden, Mark Mohan (the Tuesday night
gang at Hayden’s in the Rock).
Gerard McCarrick (RIP). Gerard was my uncle. He died suddenly and unexpectedly during
the time this album was being recorded. He was a constant support to me, particularly
regarding music, and he gave me his flute to play in September 1986, on the evening
Tyrone lost the All-Ireland football final to Kerry. My family and I miss him terribly.