Dónal Maguire, traditional Irish music. A great singer, banjo player, fiddle player and all-round musician.

dónal maguire

Dónal Maguire has been singing and playing in public on and off for forty years. The 'on-and-off bit' is crucial! He is now playing on a full-time basis, hence this website.

Dónal's current major project centres round the legendary Michael Davitt, arguably one of the most celebrated statesmen in 19th Century Irish history. Dónal is to tour his musically illustrated lecture "Triumph over Adversity" to celebrate the centenary of Davitt's death in 1906. Davitt, the supreme political organiser, social reformer and egalitarian, migrated to Haslingden (where, coincidentally, Dónal has lived since 1978) as a child from Mayo in the west of Ireland.

Dónal toured “Triumph over Adversity” in Ireland and the UK in 2006. After the highly successful inaugural presentation in Haslingden, the show was preformed at the prestigious Parnell Summer School in Avondale, Co. Wicklow. The Director, Dr. Pauric Travers, referred to Maguire's presentation as the 'highlight of the week' (See full account in reviews)

A dedicated CD “Michael Davitt, The Forgotten Hero?” has been released and the response has been extremely positive (see discography)

Dónal is collaborating with filmaker Paul Vernon Lydiate in the making of a documentary on the life of Davitt and they are currently in the process of setting up the funding for the project. A dedicated website has been set up. Meanwhile,we have started the first filming stage and have slso received significant pledges in terms of financial support for the project.

We plan to hold a fundraising concert at the Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester on Friday March 2nd 2012. Renowned Scots singer

Dick Gaughan will join Dónal together with virtuosi north-west based musicians Debbie Garvey, Steve Johnston, Mike McGoldrick and Emma Sweeney. For further details please refer to: www.chasingmichaelfilms.com

A Bit of History...

Like so many other young Irish kids, Dónal was affected by the charismatic Clancy brothers and their triumphal return to Ireland from the USA, in the early 60s. Whilst admiring Luke Kelly's strident style, Dónal soon became enamoured of the high style exemplified by Joe Heaney, Paddy Tunney and Elizabeth Cronin.

Dónal's emigration to England as a fifteen-year-old paradoxically accelerated his interest in Irish music and culture. The London Singers Workshop helped to develop his singing and he became a resident at the Singers Club, joining Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, John Faulkner, Sandra Kerr, Terry Yarnell et al. Séamus Ennis and A.L. Lloyd had earlier been resident at the club.

Dónal helped to the set up the Knave of Clubs in Bethnal Green, East London, together with Yarnell, Faulkner, Kerr and other members of agitprop group Combine. Latterly, Dolores Keane joined the residents. Dónal moved to Lancashire in 1976 and soon teamed up with virtuoso 2-row accordion player Liam Webster. They played together for over 20 years.

While Dónal has been primarily associated with unaccompanied singing, he has significant other 'strings to his bow'. Dónal is a fine interpreter of contemporary material, as well as an excellent singer of traditional material, and can accompany himself on a range of stringed instruments. He is universally recognised as one of the finest players of Irish dance music on mandolin and tenor banjo.

Dónal has conducted many singing workshops, and they are characterised by his relaxed, yet highly informative, professional style. He has also collected many songs, not only in his native Co. Louth, but from many sources in the U.K.

In addition to solo work Dónal sometimes joins forces with other musician friends.

In 2001 Dónal decided to realise a lifetime ambition and devote himself to his music on a full-time basis. The Clergy's Lamentation album has been re-released on CD with additional tracks, and is receiving very positive reviews.

Dónal launched his CD "Gilded Chains and Sordid affluence" at the Rhythm Station, Rawtenstall, Lancashire in December 2001. He was joined on stage by John Murphy and jazz musicians Mike Walker and Iain Dixon. The evening was a resounding success and reflected the very positive reviews the album has attracted thus far.

In January 2004 Dónal re-released the celebrated album “The Star of Sunday’s Well” on CD. Eminent RTE producer Harry Bradshaw remastered this classic from 1979.

During late Autumn '04 Dónal engaged in a very successful tour of Eastern USA with gigs in NYC, New Hampshire and Maryland. Spring ’05 offered the opportunity for Dónal to make his first trip to Australia, playing the inaugural “Two Fires Festival” in Braidwood, NSW, and then the prestigious Australian National Festival in Canberra over the Easter holiday period.

Dónal completed his third American tour in Nov/Dec '08 and is preparing to make another trip this Autumn, starting in Chicago and culminating in Baltimore via Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and gigs in Boston and New York City.

After the success of the '09 tour another is in the planning stage, more or less replicating the '09 tour with additional dates possibly in Florida.See gigs for provisional details.

Dónal Maguire, 2001

Donal and Liam
Dónal with Liam Webster, 1979

donal in the studio
Dónal in the Rossendale Records
recording studio, 2001

Donal and friends playing
Matt Fahey, John Murphy and Dónal, 2001