Steáfán Hannigan

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Steáfán Hannigan is an Irish musician, author, composer, sound engineer, musicologist[1] and instrument maker.[2] Since 2008 he has made his home in Canada.

Hannigan is a multi-instrumentalist. Some of the instruments he plays are the Uillean pipes,[3][4] Bodhrán[3] tin whistle, low whistle,[5] bouzouki,[6] guitar, tenor banjo, flute, mandolin and various percussion instruments.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Hannigan was born and grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland.[8]


As a young man Hannigan began performing at festivals and local events, playing the Uilleann pipes, tin whistle and percussion instruments. In 1991 he and Simon Care performed the soundtrack for a BBC radio play, Voyage of the Swallows, by Eric Pringle. In 1992 he won an All-Britain Uillean pipe award. In 1994 he published an instructional book, Bodhrán Basics

Hannigan founded the Steafan Hannigan Band, which later became the Irish band Sin É.[9] The band released two albums, Sin É and It's About Time.[10] The group performed internationally, including at Lincoln Center in New York in 1997.[11] Hannigan opened Oisin Studios in Milton Keynes, England, and produced a number of albums,[12] including Tig (Serious Kitchen),[13] and Not to Scale (Kerfuffle). While there he was interviewed by Irish Music Magazine in 1999.[14]

In 1999, Hannigan and Sin É released an album in the United States, Deep Water Dropoff on the RCA label.[15]

As well as fronting his own band, Hannigan performed widely with other artists and bands, including Depeche Mode[16] Bjork, Aessia D'Andrea,[17] and Band of Hope.[18] He played various instruments on the albums of many bands and singers (see the discography section below).

In 2000 he published another instructional book, The Low Whistle Book, with David Ledsam.

Hannigan met and married violinist Saskia Tomkins. In 2008, after moving to Canada, Hannigan and Tomkins formed a band called Cairdeas (Friends) with singer Elizabeth Barlow, and independently released an album of Irish songs and tunes, Generous Lover. Barlow was later replaced by Marsala Lukianchuk, and the band released a second album, Christmas by Candlelight. The pair continued to perform both together[19][20] and separately with various Canadian groups.[21]

During his career Hannigan has performed and presented workshops at many festivals[22] and other music-related venues.[23]

In 2011 Hannigan performed The Brendan Voyage, by Shaun Davey, the only classical suite written especially for uilleann pipes, accompanied by the Northumberland Orchestra in Cobourg. Hannigan was the sound editor and audio effects creator for the 26 part animated film series Legend of Ponnivala, released in 2013.[23] In 2014 he created an original score for the Capital Theatre production of Driving Miss Daisy in Cobourg.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Hannigan and Tomkins have three musical children. In 2015 they live in Baltimore, Ontario. The family occasionally performs together at local events as Clan Hannigan.[25]


  • Steáfán Hannigan (1994). Bodhrán Basics. Ossian. ISBN 978-0-946005-87-1.[26][27][28][29]
  • Steafan Hannigan; David Ledsam (1 December 2000). The Low Whistle Book. Mel Bay Publications. ISBN 978-0-9525305-1-0.[30]
  • The Bodhran DVD

Partial discography[edit]

  • This Morning, Lammas band, 1993[31]
  • Celtic Christmas. Valley Recordings, Littleton-on-Severn, November 1995/March 1996
  • Out of the Flames: Music for Border Bagpipes from 1733 to the Present, Matt Seattle, Discipline Global Mobile, 1999[32]
  • Man Bleeds in Glasgow, Jackie Leven, 1998[33]
  • Heritage, Eileen McGann, 1997.
  • Invocata, Donald Quan, 1998, Oasis Productions.[5]
  • Not up to Scale, Kerfuffle band, 2003. Also produced this album at Oisín Studios.
  • Unexpected Songs, Julian Lloyd Webber, Emi Classics, 2006[34]
  • Ancient Muse, Loreena McKennitt, Verve, 2006.
  • Nights from the Alhambra, Loreena McKennitt DVD and CD[35]
  • Heading Home, Christina Kidd. Also co-producer.
  • Alessia D'ANDREA – Alessia D'Andrea, Renilin Music Label, 2009[36]
  • Cold in April Mat Walklate, self-released, 2006.[37]
  • Songs of Faith and Devotion, Depeche Mode, 2006 – one track
  • Down the Irish Gravel Road, Tom Acton, Full Spiral Productions, 2009.[38]
  • Singing on the Wind, Anne Lister, Hearthfire.

Audio and video production[edit]

  • Legend of Ponnivala, 26 episode video series. Sound editing, audio effects,[39][40]


  • The Cavan Blazers, Fourth Line Theatre, 2011.[8]
  • The Winslows of Derryvore, Fourth Line Theatre, 2013.[41] Actor and musician
  • The Last Five Years, Capital Theatre, Port Hope. Music director.[42]
  • Driving Miss Daisy, Capital Theatre, Port Hope. Original score, music director.[24]
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream. 2014. Uxbridge Music Hall.Original score.[43]
  • Rob Ford the musical, 2014, live theatre – sound engineer

Partial list of festivals[edit]

  • Northwest Folklife Festival
  • Seattle World Rhythm Festival
  • Calgary Folk Music Festival 1993
  • Ottawa Folk Festival 1996
  • Wackelsteinfestival
  • Goderich Celtic College[22]
  • Muhtadi International Drumming Festival
  • Millrace Folk Festival 2007
  • Vancouver Celtic Festival
  • Celtic Roots Festival 2008
  • Portneuf Drums Festival 2012
  • Canadian Celtic Celebration
  • Canadian Frame Drum Festival Toronto 2009


  1. ^ "ATN Signs 'The Legend of Ponnivala' for Canadian Broadcast". Northumberland View 26 March 2013
  2. ^ "EARLY UNION PIPES". by Denny Hall, Alternative Pipers of North America, Number 3, August 1991.
  3. ^ a b "More a chop than a change ". The Guardian, John Fordham, 30 June 1999
  4. ^ "Sounds of Ireland featured in Cobourg orchestra concert" Northumberland News. By Karen Longwell
  5. ^ a b "Interview: Donald Quan" Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine.. Strange Horizons, By Peggi Warner-Lalonde 25 March 2002
  6. ^ Cencrastus. Cencrastus. 1993. p. 38.
  7. ^ "Creative two-fer @ SHERIDAN". Ontario Arts Review 14 April 2012 Review by Terry Gaisin
  8. ^ a b "Local performers shine in 4th Line Theatre show". Northumberland News By Karen Longwell 29 July 2011.
  9. ^ Geoff Wthe allis; Sue Wilson (2001). The Rough Guide to Irish Music. Rough Guides, Limited. p. 230. ISBN 978-1-85828-642-6.
  10. ^ "Sin'e'". AllMusic. Biography by Raymond McKinney
  11. ^ "Hopping Across Time And Space". By JENNIFER DUNNING, The New York Times 1 September 1997
  12. ^ English Dance & Song. English Folk Dance and Song Society. 2003. p. 52. (preview not informative, but Google summary says "Steafan Hannigan plays egg and bodhran and produced and engineered the CD at Oisin Studios")
  13. ^ "Serious Kitchen – TIG (Wetfoot Music)". David Kidman, Net Rhythms.
  14. ^ "Dropping Into The Deep". Irish Music Magazine , November 1999.
  15. ^ "Album Review". – Steve Huey, Rovi Virgin Radio 99.9.
  16. ^ Sébastien Michaud (12 July 2014). CAMION BLANC: DEPECHE MODE Ethique synthétique. CAMION BLANC. pp. 167–. ISBN 978-2-35779-237-1. (in French, about something called "Get Right With Me")
  17. ^ "Aessia D'Andrea: Help Promoting Her Music in the USA". Houston Style Magazine, Jo-Carolyn Goode | 9 July 2015
  18. ^ "From Pub to Platform". Double Reed News, Spring 2011, page 17
  19. ^ "Brockville Public Library hosted a night of Irish Music",[permanent dead link] Know Brockville. 18 March 2015
  20. ^ "The Brampton Festival Singers 25th Anniversary". SNAPD,
  21. ^ "MISS MARKHAM BOLLYWOOD" South Asian Focus, 19 July 2011
  22. ^ a b "How did I get tangled up in all these Celtic roots?". Goderich Signal Star, 12 August 2008
  23. ^ a b "Animated Indian epic screened first at Memorial". Today, Memorial University. By Janet Harron | 2 December 2008
  24. ^ a b "Driving Miss Daisy offers some nice surprises". Northumberland Today, 22 May 2014
  25. ^ "St. Patrick's Day Music". Probus Patter, April 2009 page 3
  26. ^ "Steafan Hannigan - The Bodhran Book ". book review Drum Dojo
  27. ^ "Ossian " Irish Music Review
  28. ^ Percussive Notes. Percussive Arts Society. 1999.
  29. ^ Fintan Vallely (1 September 1999). The Companion to Irish Traditional Music. NYU Press. pp. 446–. ISBN 978-0-8147-8802-8.
  30. ^ "The Low Whistle Book Steafan Hannigan & David Ledsam" Living Tradition , Alex Monaghan
  31. ^ Ian Carr; Digby Fairweather; Brian Priestley (2004). The Rough Guide to Jazz. Rough Guides. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-1-84353-256-9.
  32. ^ "CD Reviews" Folk World.
  33. ^ "Jackie Leven – Man Bleeds In Glasgow/Greetings From Milford". Music OMH, by Nic Oliver | 27 April 2009
  34. ^ BBC Music Magazine. BBC magazines. 2006. p. 74.
  35. ^ "Nights from the Alhambra". review by Michael Lohr in New Renaissance Magazine.
  36. ^ "ALESSIA D'ANDREA – Alessia D'Andrea". Rock Impressions
  37. ^ "FolkWorld CD Reviews". FolkWorld, Issue 33 May 2007
  38. ^ "Tom Acton: Down the Irish Gravel Road". Folkworld, No. 44 03/2011
  39. ^ "ATN Signs Animated Epic Series The Legend of Ponnivala for Canadian Broadcast". 8 April 2013 by Canada India Education Council
  40. ^ "The Power of Performance". Patricia Dold, Department of Religious Studies, Memorial University of Newfoundland. inShastri News – December 2008
  41. ^ "Clan Hannigan performs this weekend". Northumberland Today, Cecilia Nasmith, 4 December 2014
  42. ^ " Off-Broadway hit, ‘The Last Five Years’, comes to Port Hope’s Capitol Theatre". Karen Longwell / Northumberland News, 2014 (upcoming event)
  43. ^ "A Midsummer Night's Dream comes to the Uxbridge Music Hall".Uxbridge Times Journal. By Celia Klemenz