Paul Harrigan – BMus Hons Music, T.T.C.T
Paul is from the Inishowen Peninsula, Co. Donegal. Born into a musical family, he was influenced at an early age by his teachers Dinny McLaughlin, Evelyn Boyce, and Theresa McClure. He has the distinction of being All-Ireland champion on both the Uilleann Pipes and Piano Accordion.
He has been teaching Traditional Music for the past twenty eight years. A respected and versatile musician, Paul has travelled extensively, performing in Canada and the USA, and through-out Europe and China. He has toured and recorded with groups such as Lúnasa, Tuath, (Ireland), Dirty Linen, (France) and BlØf (Holland), and with virtuoso solo performers and composers Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Roisin McGrory – (Ireland), Benoit Guerbigny, Renaud Séchan and Jean-marc Padovani (France), Ralph Rolls and Selan Lerner from Niall Rodgers band Chic. With friend and colleague Terry Woods, Paul has been a member of the Woods Band and original member of The Hell Fire Club with Shane McGowan, Terry Woods and Phil Chevron – (The Pogues), and the legendary Ronnie Drew and Eamonn Campbell – (The Dubliners).
Performing with such a wide variety of musicians has enabled Paul to fuse Irish traditional music with such musical genre as Jazz, Rock, Blues as well arranging music for ‘Anair’, a collection of poetry and translations of the Connemara Tradition with Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin and John Ryan. In July of ‘09, together with Terry Woods and actor Adrian Dunbar, he performed and appeared in a documentary by Brian Ó Flaghartaigh on the life of James Connolly. In March 2009, Paul travelled to Beijing with contemporary Irish composers, Brian Bridges, Linda Buckley, and Hugh O Neil, to perform a series of concerts and lectures featuring Paul on the Uilleann Pipes. Paul was invited to perform a solo 25 minute Uilleann Pipe piece composed by Dr Caoimhin MacAoidh, entitled ‘Cómoradh Éamonn Ceannt’ as part of the 2016 celebration of the Easter Rising leader, in honor of Ceannt’s dedication and promotion of the Uilleann Piping tradition.
Paul returned to college in 2008 and graduated from the University of Ulster with Bmus Hons in 2011. Paul has been an invited guest tutor at the University of Limerick, providing master classes on both Uilleann Pipes and Piano Accordion for the MA in Performance and the BA in Traditional Music and Dance. He set up his own traditional music school ‘Ceol na Coille’ in 2011. Ceol na Coille opened its doors to musicians of all ages and provides tuition on a wide variety of instruments. From 2004, Paul has also worked closely with local national and secondary schools as a part time tutor and also creating and delivering programs through the Music Education Partnership, Donegal VEC and Peace III initiative. From dealing with a large number of young musicians in a variety of musical genre, he felt the need for creating a musical platform for young musicians of different musical backgrounds to come together and perform in a variety of settings, formal and informal, at home and abroad. With this in mind, Paul decided to form the project ‘Coirm’ and Uilleann Pipe ensemble ‘Cronán’. The groups perform traditional arrangements and compositions by Paul and Coirm have also commissioned and performed pieces by Seamus McGuire, Mairead Ní Mhaonaigh, Martin Tourish and Zoe Conway.
Paul is currently on the board of the Inishowen Traditional Music Project, Chairperson of The Donegal Pipers organization – Cumann na Piobaireachta Tarlach MacSuibhne – and Project manager/Director of Coirm. He has hosted and facilitated collaborative projects with twinned school – North Texas School of Irish Traditional Music, and brought a group of 35 strong musicians to Texas in 2016. Further collaborations with Feis Spé Ceilidh Trail, Scotland, Inishowen Traditional Music Project, Donegal, Rio Americana High School , California, Mark Black and the Folk and Roots Orchestra.
In 2012 Paul set up the first Ceol na Coille Summer School of Irish Traditional Music. Ceol na Coille’s aims are to deliver high quality level of master classes and tuition in traditional music, song and the Irish language, inviting nationally recognized and local musicians to deliver the master classes. The Summer School to date has welcomed students of all ages from USA, Canada, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Austrailia, England, Scotland, Japan, Hungary and throughout Ireland. The summer school has proved hugely successful and welcomed record numbers of participants to the workshops, and over 2000 visitors attend the various recitals, sessions and concerts in 2019.
Paul has released an album of Uilleann Pipe music following a grant awarded from the Arts Council of Irelands Deis Recording and Publication Award. The album entitled – Music from the White Stone – consists of music researched from the manuscripts of the collector Honoria Galwey, Moville 1910, from the Donegal fiddle repertoire and new compositions of his own.
More recently, Paul has been composing music for a number of video documentaries and recorded a concert in March for the Texas Irish Festival and with Mairead Ní Mhaonaigh and friends for ‘Ré a tSolais ‘ which was shown on TG4 on St. Patricks Day.
He was recently completed a commission from Cairdeas na bhFidléirí to compose a soundscape for the ‘Seven Waves Project’ in Orkney. The final work was to function as a live soundscape performance element, designed to compliment and enrich “Seven Waves,” an art installation by Erlend Brown and Dave Jackson based on “Tryst on Egilsay” a seven part poem cycle by George Mackay Brown. The Seven Waves CD is available to pre-order from the website and will be officially launched during Trad Week in Letterkenny’s Regional Cultural Centre on Thursday 2nd June.
Paul still performs throughout Ireland and abroad and is highly sought after as a tutor for master classes, performance and studio work. Paul’s musicianship reflects his musical apprenticeship, a deeply rooted education in the style, tradition and flair of the Irish music of his native Inishowen. His command of the music enables him to show his virtuosity with versatility.