Iarla Ó Lionáird

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Iarla Ó Lionáird
Iarla Ó Lionáird in Woodstock Gardens, Inistioge, County Kilkenny in July 2011
Background information
Born (1964-06-18) 18 June 1964 (age 50)
Origin Cúil Aodha, County Cork, Ireland
Genres Irish traditional
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Voice
Years active 1996–present
Labels Realworld Records
Associated acts Afro Celt Sound System
Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin
Website http://www.iarla.com

Iarla Ó Lionáird (born June 18, 1964) is an Irish singer and producer well known for his involvement with the Afro Celt Sound System. He is one of the most prominent artists of the Irish Sean nós singing tradition, and has released four solo albums through Real World Records. He also sings on the Peter Gabriel album OVO.

Early life, career[edit]

Ó Lionáird grew up and learned his craft in the musical heartland of Cúil Aodha in the West Cork Gaeltacht. One of twelve children, his aunt was the singer Elizabeth Cronin. This region though historically rich both in instrumental and vocal music grew in fame through its association with composer Seán Ó Riada. Apart from his enormous role on the trajectory of Irish music generally, Ó Riada's influence in Cúil Aodha was profound. His choir, Cór Cúil Aodha, achieved cult status in traditional circles and it was in this milieu that Iarla Ó Lionáird grew and developed his art. From his iconic early recording of the vision song "Aisling Gheal" whilst still a boy, through to his recordings with Tony McMahon and Noel Hill, Ó Lionáird established himself both as a masterful exponent of Sean nós and as a pioneer in its renewal and development.[citation needed]

Signed to Realworld label in the mid-1990s, he would go on to make many ground breaking recordings with the multi-million selling Afro Celt Sound System and achieved in this period two Grammy nominations. Ó Lionáird's four solo records have also received widespread plaudits at home and across the world. Ó Lionáird has sung in his unique style for audiences across the globe from Carnegie Hall in New York to the Royal Opera House in London, from Cape Town to Moscow, Rome and Tokyo. His many television appearances include among others the "Later with Jools Holland Show" for the BBC and the "Late Show with David Letterman" in the United States. His music has also appeared on many film soundtracks including The Gangs of New York and Hotel Rwanda.

It is widely recognised that through this time he has had a major influence on the increase of awareness of the Irish ancient vocal tradition internationally.[citation needed] In July 2011 he toured a new work entitled "Grá agus Bás" with the Dublin-based Crash Ensemble. This work was commissioned by Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and composed especially for Ó Lionáird by the composer Donnacha Dennehy. It received its world premiere in New York in March 2007, and this work was subsequently released on a CD recording entitled, 'Grá Agus Bás' on the American Nonesuch label in May 2011.

Ó Lionáird holds a Masters Degree in Ethnomusicology from the University of Limerick and is studying for a PhD in Music at Limerick University. He lives in Inistioge in County Kilkenny with his wife Eimear and their three children.


Solo albums[edit]

Albums With The Afro Celt Sound System[edit]

Other albums[edit]

  • Tony Mac Mahon, Iarla Ó Lionáird & Noel Hill / Aislingi Ceoil / Music Of Dreams (Gael Linn, 1993)
  • Donnacha Dennehy Grá Agus Bás (Nonesuch Records, 2011)

External links[edit]