Arty McGlynn

One of the most sought after musicians in Ireland

Arty McGlynn was born in Omagh, Co Tyrone, into a family steeped in traditional music. His father played the accordion and his mother the fiddle, and by the age of five McGlynn was already playing reels proficiently on the accordion.

When his mother bought him his first guitar at the age of 11, McGlynn began to delve into the playing of great jazz guitarists such as Wes Montgomery and Barney Kessel, and by the time he turned 15, he was already playing professionally.

The late 60s saw McGlynn travel to the UK and USA, moving from band to band and adding the pedal steel guitar to his musical arsenal along the way. But after nearly a decade on the road, the endless run of one nighters started to lose their appeal and McGlynn began to look for something that would excite him again.

There followed a phase in his life where rather than play ‘what he was told to play’ by whoever controlled the purse strings, McGlynn took more control over his own artistry, focusing his attention on the very different world of Irish traditional music.

In 1979 he recorded his first solo album McGlynn’s Fancy, which was the first ever recording of the guitar played in authentic traditional style. Hailed as a classic in the traditional music world, his reputation was now spreading in a whole new direction.

McGlynn subsequently became one of the most sought after musicians in the 
country, playing and recording with the likes of Christy Moore, Paul Brady, Donal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn, and in groups including Planxty, Patrick Street, De Danann and the Van Morrison Band.

In 1989 McGlynn and his fiddle player wife Nollaig Casey released their first duet album Lead the Knave to great critical acclaim. Then in 1990 they were awarded the Belfast Telegraph Entertainment Media and Arts Award for excellence in the field of folk music.

McGlynn is equally in demand as a live performer, recording artist and producer. The album Barking Mad by Four Men and a Dog, produced by Arty McGlynn, was voted folk album of the year in 1991 by Folk Roots magazine. 

He also produced Christy Hennessy’s album The Rehearsal, which remained in the Irish charts continuously for 18 months, and collaborated with Frances Black on her first two solo albums, Talk to Me and The Sky Road, which topped the charts in Ireland and were critically received in both the UK and USA.

McGlynn has composed music for several television documentaries and, together with Casey, arranged and played music for the sound track of the Irish feature films Moondance and Hear My Song, in which they also made a guest appearance. More recently McGlynn played on the sound track of the film Waking Ned Devine.

In July 1995 McGlynn and Casey released their long awaited second album titled Causeway on Tara Music, which was enthusiastically received by critics and music lovers alike. The album—two years in the making—contains nine sets of original tunes, which range from soft and gentle to strong and vibrant, and display a unique love and understanding for the music and its origins.

In recent years, McGlynn has been touring extensively throughout Europe with uillean piper Liam O’Flynn, also co-producing O’Flynn’s latest album, The Piper’s Call. In the past year he has also worked with world renowned producer Jim Rooney on the new Sean Keane and Charlie Landsborough albums, and produced and played on the new Alan Kelly album, Mosaic.

Reproduced with kind permission of Tara Music, www.taramusic.com.

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