Paddy Keenan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For Gaelic footballer Paddy Keenan, see Paddy Keenan (Gaelic footballer).
Paddy Keenan
Paddy Keenan ACF.jpg
Background information
Born (1950-01-30) 30 January 1950 (age 66)
Trim, County Meath Ireland
Genres Celtic
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Uilleann Pipes, Tin Whistle
Years active 1964 – present
Associated acts Bothy Band, The Bucks, Tommy O'Sullivan
Notable instruments
Crowley pipes, Leo Rowsome chanter, Dave Williams pipes

Paddy Keenan (born 30 January 1950) is an Irish player of the uilleann pipes who first gained fame as a founding member of The Bothy Band. Since that group's dissolution in the late 1970s, Keenan has released a number of solo and collaborative recordings, and continues to tour both as a soloist, and with singer/guitarist Tommy O'Sullivan.[1][2]


The early years[edit]

Paddy Keenan was born in Trim, County Meath in 1950 to John Keenan (an Irish Traveller) and Mary Bravender Keenan (of settled descent). Though the Keenan family abandoned the Traveling lifestyle early in Paddy's life, he spent much of his youth contending with discrimination, including regular physical confrontations. His father and grandfather both played the pipes, and his father spent many nights playing along with piper Johnny Doran. Paddy was introduced to the tin whistle by his brother Johnny Keenan[dead link] (a notable Irish banjo player) around age six, and began playing the pipes around age nine. Recognizing his son's interest, John Keenan tutored Paddy, along with neighboring children including Finbar Furey and Davy Spillane. During this period, the Keenan household was, de facto, an ongoing session. At age 14, Paddy played his first major concert at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, followed by a few years of touring with a number of musicians, including his father, as "The Pavees." At 17, attempting to escape the strictness of his father's household, Paddy went to England; he ended up busking around London, singing and playing blues and rock songs on guitar for the majority of the following four years. Having nearly sold or thrown away his pipes multiple times, he discovered in 1971 that busking with them was far more lucrative than with the guitar, and resumed his piping career.[3][4]

Early groups and The Bothy Band[edit]

Returning to Dublin, Keenan played regularly with his brothers and father at folk clubs and various venues around Ireland. In 1975, he was part of a band called Seachtar, from the Irish word for 'seven people.' This band was the genesis of The Bothy Band, of which Keenan was a mainstay from its inception to its demise in 1979.

A solo career[edit]

Keenan's first (and eponymous) solo album appeared in 1975, and he also duetted with fiddler Paddy Glackin on the 1978 album Doublin. He subsequently recorded a second solo album for Gael-Linn Records, Poirt An Phiobaire, in 1983.

After rejecting the chance to join Moving Hearts in the early 1980s, Keenan's musical career went into abeyance. However, in the 1990s he relocated to North America, rediscovered his musical talents and in 1997 issued "Na Keen Affair", recorded at Dadyeen Studios, St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada. Supporting musicians include Tommy Peoples on fiddle, Arty McGlynn and Tommy O'Sullivan on guitar, as well as Newfoundland musicians. This led to an ongoing musical relationship with the London-born, Kerry-based guitarist Tommy O'Sullivan. Together, the pair issued "The Long Grazing Acre" in 2001, touring jointly to promote the album. According to their respective websites, Keenan and O'Sullivan have continued to perform together periodically since 2001.

The 2008 documentary Dambé: The Mali Project tells the story of his 3000-mile cross-cultural musical adventure with Liam Ó Maonlaí (Hothouse Flowers) and friends, and features performances from the Festival au Désert.[5][6]

Pipes and Pipemakers[edit]

Upon demonstrating and aptitude for, and interest in the pipes around the age of ten, John Keenan got Paddy a full set of pipes by John Clarks.[3] Six years later, in 1966, Keenan's father bought him a full set made by the Crowley family, which (with the addition of a Leo Rowsome chanter), Paddy played until 2000.[7] At that point, Keenan received a full set from maker Dave Williams of Grimsby, England, who died a few years later in a car accident.[8] This set, which was a copy of the previous Crowley set, remains Keenan's primary instrument.[9]


Solo albums[edit]

With Paddy Glackin[edit]

  • Doublin' (1978)

With Tommy O'Sullivan[edit]

As A Member of The Bucks[edit]

As A Member of Éire Japan (with Frankie Gavin, Junji Shirota (ja))[edit]

  • Éire Japan (2015) [10]


  1. ^ Seida, Linda. "Biography: Paddy Keenan". Allmusic. Retrieved 13 June 2010. 
  2. ^ Grant, Pete. "Paddy Keenan California Concerts". Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Lee, Zina. "Paddy Keenan King of the Pipers (interview)". Celtic Cafe. Retrieved 10 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "About Paddy (official site)". Retrieved 10 November 2010. 
  5. ^ Dambé: The Mali Project at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Dambé: The Mali Project Official website
  7. ^ "Paddy's Rambles (official Paddy Keenan site)". Retrieved 12 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "Dave Williams Obit.". BBC. Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  9. ^ Block, Melissa. "Piper Keenan Celebrates St. Paddy's (interview)". Retrieved 10 November 2010. 
  10. ^ Éire Japan, retrieved 31 October 2015

Further reading[edit]

  • Colin Harper "Piper back" Folk Roots, no. 168 (June 1997), pp. 26–27

External links[edit]

Sound sample[edit]