Spink Comhaltas

From the blog

Steve Cooney – Ársa Cláirsí: Tunes of the Irish Harpers for Solo Guitar – Pre-Review

A CD for guitarists who want to play harp tunes.  This is a brand new CD from the famous guitar player, Steve Cooney.  The inspiration for this CD were Edward Bunting’s manuscripts in Queen’s University Library, Belfast.  Cooney checked these in order to hunt down tunes that were played at the time of the 1792 Harp Assembly.  This CD reflects influences such as Muintir de Barra, Laoise Kelly, Gráinne Hambly and Billy Jackson, Odhrán Ó Casaide and particularly Kathleen Loughnane.

Steve Cooney is best known for his development of an influential style of guitar accompaniment to traditional Irish dance music which he developed in West Kerry, and for which he won the National Entertainment Award with Séamus Begley in 1997.

Born in Melbourne Australia in 1953, he came to Ireland in 1980 and maintains his connections with the Aboriginal culture there, into which he was initiated. He has ancestral links with Tipperary, Cavan and Galway.

He has participated in making more than 250 CD’s, either as a guitar or bass player or as producer and engineer. Also a poet and songwriter, he has worked with many iconic international artists in rock and country music but his primary focus is Irish traditional music, and fusions of that genre.

This CD has just been ordered, so a fuller review will have to wait, but this writer has no doubt that it will be great.

Don’t just read the review, buy the CD!


This article is part of a series of articles on selected traditional Irish musicians and CD’s.  At Spink Comhaltas, we believe it is critically important to support and promote our musicians, and never more so that at this time as the Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged the music industry.

Having role models and heroes is important in any walk of life, and this is true of musicians too.  Some of our strongest musicians who have developed with Spink Comhaltas over the recent years have learned as much of their musidc from listening to these artists – both on CD and live – as they have learned in formal classes.  We encourage our current generation of young musicians – and their parents – to consider building up their own collection of music.  And while we live in a world of streaming, there is something special about being able to read the sleeve notes on an album that an artist has put a lot of energy and effort into that will always be much more meaningful than listening on a streaming service.

The musicians we have featured here are outstanding performers.  Different music styles, instruments, and interpretations will appear – as well a mix of solo and group music.  For most of the musicians featured, the CD featured is one of a number of works by that artist.

Spink Comhaltas promotes traditional Irish music across Laois, Carlow, Kilkenny, Kildare and further afield.  With excellent teachers and resources, as well as one of the largest music instrument banks in the country, Spink Comhaltas is an excellent place to begin your journey in traditional Irish music.

In addition to teaching and promoting music, Spink Comhaltas also fosters connections – with musicians across different counties and counties, different genres of music, and other artistic and