Cathal McConnell

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Cathal McConnell (born 1944) is a musician and singer best known as the mainstay of traditional band The Boys of the Lough, of which he was a founder member.


Early life

Coming from a family of singers and flute-players in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, McConnell is an All-Ireland champion in both flute and whistle, both in 1962. [1] He plays his music in the traditional Fermanagh style, which he learned from his childhood. [2] His father Sandy, a well known traditional singer and musician, recorded for the BBC in the 1950s. His early musical collaborators in Ireland were fiddler Tommy Gunn and Robin Morton.

The Boys of the Lough

After meeting at a folk festival in Falkirk, Scotland, the group The Boys of the Lough was formed and their first recording was released in 1973. Originally consisting of McConnell on flute, Aly Bain (fiddle), [3] Dick Gaughan (vocals and guitar) and Robin Morton (bodhran and vocals). [4] Although there have now been multiple line-up changes, the group remains active and has 21 studio albums to its name. McConnell is the only remaining founder member.

Other projects

Outside the Boys of the Lough, Cathal has released two collections of songs and tunes, [5] performed in duos with Robin Morton, Scots fiddler Duncan Wood, [6] Irish fiddler Gerry O'Connor, [7] and as 'The Cathal McConnell Trio' with Kathryn Nicoll (fiddle) and Karen Marshalsay (harp).

In recent years fiddle player Gerry O'Connor has compiled a collection from Cathal's song repertoire which has been published as I Have Travelled This Country. [8]


McConnell is an All-Ireland champion in both flute and whistle, winning both Senior titles at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann held in Gorey, County Wexford in 1962. [9]

Following a longstanding involvement with the annual Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay, County Clare, the School paid tribute to McConnell with an evening of speeches, music and song dedicated to him at the 2009 event. [10]

In 2010 McConnell was awarded the Gradam an Amhrání/Traditional Singer of the Year award at the TG4 Gradam Ceoil awards ceremony. [11]


See also The Boys of the Lough discography.

Other recordings include:

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  1. Maguire, Cyril (2003). Hidden Fermanagh: Traditional Music and Song from County Fermanagh. Fermanagh Traditional Music Society. ISBN   0-9546200-0-3.
  2. Larsen, Grey (2011). The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle. Mel Bay Publications. p. 400. ISBN   1610658892.
  3. "Folk duo's birthday bash". The Visitor. 12 April 2016.
  4. Gilcrist, Jim (22 July 2015). "Folk: Boys of the Lough – The New Line". The Scotsman.
  5. "Cathal McConnell – Long Expectant Comes At Last" (review). The Living Tradition. No. 40.
  6. "Cathal McConnell: Singing the praises of a lifelong Boy who stayed true to his roots". The Scotsman. 4 May 2010.
  7. "Cathal McConnell & Gerry O'Connor – Music and Song of South Ulster". I Have Travelled this Country – Songs of Cathal McConnell.
  8. "Cathal McConnell – I Have Travelled This Country CDs & DVDs". Claddagh Records.
  9. Maguire, Cyril (2003). Hidden Fermanagh: Traditional Music and Song from County Fermanagh. Fermanagh Traditional Music Society. ISBN   0-9546200-0-3.
  10. "Cathal McConnell Tribute, 2009". Irish Traditional Music Archive. 1 December 2010.
  11. "And the winners of tonight's TG4 Gradam Ceoil awards are..." The Irish Times. 4 December 2010.