Irish Memory Orchestra

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The Irish Memory Orchestra (IMO), (formerly known as the Clare Memory Orchestra) is an Irish orchestra, founded by composer David Flynn in 2012, which features musicians who are equally skilled at classical music and traditional Irish music.


Founded in 2012, the orchestra changed its name in 2016 to the Irish Memory Orchestra after previously being called the Clare Memory Orchestra.[1]

It is based in Clare on the west coast of Ireland. In all publicity the orchestra is named Dave Flynn & The Irish Memory Orchestra to reflect the fact that Flynn has created a unique new orchestral template. London-based South African Bjorn Bantock is the current Principal Conductor.

The instrumentation of the orchestra sets it apart from any other orchestra in the world. The string section is made up of musicians who are equally well trained in Irish fiddle techniques as they are in classical string techniques. The wind section mixes uilleann pipes, wooden flute (aka Irish Flute), tin whistle and oboe. There is a section called 'Harmony/Rhythm Section' which features Irish Harp, Guitar, Double Bass and Percussion including the native Irish drum, the bodhrán.

The orchestra expanded in 2013 to include accordion, concertina, trumpet, sax, clarinet, mallet percussion and Irish Bronze Age horns.

The IMO features several established Irish musicians as guests including accordionist Máirtín O'Connor who holds the title of Honorary Guest Member and Liz Carroll who performed as guest soloist for the IMO's debut concert in Glór Theatre in Ennis on 21 September 2012. Renowned Irish fiddle and guitar duo Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill are Artists in Association with the CMO.

The leading uilleann piper Mick O'Brien and his children Aoife, Ciara and Cormac, who are all equally skilled at classical music and traditional Irish music, form the backbone of the main ensemble. Other notable members include harpist Anne-Marie O'Farrell, flautists Aisling Agnew and Eimear McGeown and oboist Etain McCooey who has created a new 'Irish oboe' style by adapted tin whistle techniques to the oboe.

Niamh Varian-Barry, best known as the former lead singer of Irish-American group Solas, is a member of the IMO as 2nd Violin section leader, violist and guest vocalist.[2]

Major performances by the orchestra have taken place at the Jeonju Sori International Festival of Traditional Music in Korea, Moscow Christmas Festival and at the National Concert Hall, Dublin in collaboration with Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.[3]

Current members[edit]

  • David Flynn - Founder/Artistic Director/Composer and Guitarist
  • Bjorn Bantock - Principal Conductor
  • Aoife Ní Bhriain - 1st Violin/Fiddle
  • Niamh Varian-Barry - 2nd Violin/Fiddle/Viola/Vocals [4][5]
  • Adrian Hart - Violin/Fiddle
  • Liz Coleman - Fiddle
  • Ciara Ní Bhriain - Viola
  • Cormac O'Brien - Cello
  • Mick O'Brien - Uilleann pipes - Irish Flute - Tin Whistle
  • Aisling Agnew - Boehm system wooden flute - Silver Flute - Tin Whistle
  • Eimear McGeown - Irish Flute - Silver Flute - Tin Whistle
  • Etain McCooey - Oboe - Tin Whistle
  • Anne-Marie O'Farrell - Irish Harp - Classical Harp
  • Neil O'Loghlen - Double Bass
  • Aidan Dunphy - Percussion
  • Maeve O'Hara - Percussion
  • Jack Talty - Concertina
  • Neil Yates - Trumpet
  • Matthew Berrill - Sax/Clarinet
  • Billy Mag Fhloinn - Bronze Age Horns
  • Mairtín O'Connor - Accordion - Honorary Guest Member


  1. ^ "Dave Flynn Wins Éamonn Ceannt Commission Competition | The Journal of Music". Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "About". Irish Memory Orchestra. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  4. ^
  5. ^

External links[edit]