Thanks to all who joined our Kickstarter campaign!

2013-05-11 15.41.11We’ve received word at the end of November that our Kickstarter campaign was a great a success, thanks to dozens of people pledging their support for the Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection.

Thanks to everyone for your generous pledges!

Paddy has been hard at work on Volume Three since the fall of 2012, and at last count has almost 490 of 5oo tunes recorded, ready to be mixed and mastered. He’s also working on the companion booklet with stories and information about the tunes. To help cover production costs, we enlisted help from Kickstarter.com, a website that helps creative people find investors for their latest projects. Those who pledged support will receive copies of the new tune collection, books and CDs, and some will receive the fabulous Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection tee shirt, designed by our friend Nick Lethert.  All of our generous backers will also receive acknowledgment in the tune collection booklet.

Money raised through Kickstarter.com will go toward production costs for The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection Project, Volume Three (10-12 CDs in a handy wallet, plus a printed booklet containing background notes and information on each tune). We’re also digitizing this volume, as we have done with the previous two, which means that those who prefer MP3 format will be able to download whole albums or individual tunes, and can receive the booklet as a PDF file.

For more information on the Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection Project, or to schedule an interview with Paddy, please call 651-698-2258 or e-mail paddyobrien@qwest.net.


Paddy’s Online Shop

MixingPunch-220 If you’re interested in ordering or downloading Paddy’s music, or getting your own copy of THE ROAD FROM CASTLEBARNAGH, you can do all that on this site. Just click this link, or on ‘SHOP’ in the menu bar above, and you’ll go directly to the online shop, which features CDs, music downloads, The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection (CDs, books, downloads), plus tee shirts, and crime novels by Paddy’s wife, Erin Hart. There are even a few special deals just for you!


Tune Collection + Apprenticeship Project

2013-04-28 13.38.45Thanks to a Folk and Traditional Arts grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, Paddy has been working on an exciting new apprenticeship and recording project. Since late 2012, he has been working with two groups of apprentices, teaching them some of the rare and unusual tunes from The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection. The aim of this project is to get more local Irish musicians playing some of his unique repertoire, and carrying those tunes on for future generations of players.  Every second and fourth Sunday, Paddy and his Center for Irish Music group have been meeting to learn and play an interesting collection of reels, hornpipes, polkas, slow airs and harp tunes, including a few of Paddy’s own traditional-style compositions, for which he won the TG4 Gradam Ceoil / Irish Music Awards Composer of the Year in 2012. The CIM group shared some of the tunes they’ve been learning on Saturday, June 15 as part of the Minnesota Irish Music weekend, joining a full schedule of workshops and concerts featuring some of Ireland’s leading master musicians. A second concert is planned for October 4.

Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection – Volume Three in the Works

In addition to the apprenticeship portion of the project, Paddy has also embarked on Volume Three of the Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection, another 500 tunes which will incorporate some lesser-known jigs and reels, as well as slow airs, clan marches, hop jigs, set dances, and harp tunes. He’s making progress on the recording, working in a studio set up in the spare room. After setting down the tunes, he’ll write short descriptions and background information on each tune for an accompanying booklet, as he did with Volumes One and Two. Like the previous volumes, this new group of tunes will eventually be released on CD, and in digital format (see announcement below). Paddy will also be giving talks and playing at various Irish festivals and libraries around the state as part of this project. Check his calendar to see when he’s going to be in your neck of the woods.

The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection is available exclusively online from CD Baby and directly from Paddy at http://www.paddyobrien.net/tune-collection/.


MSAB-LEGACY-logosThe Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection has been supported over the years, in part, by grants from the Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship Program, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Irish Fair of Minnesota Legacy Fund.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.




Paddy’s long-awaited musical memoir, THE ROAD FROM CASTLEBARNAGH, was published released by Orpen Press in Ireland in November 2012. It’s being distributed in the US starting February 2013 by Dufour Editions. A major US launch is planned for June 2013. In the meantime, the book is available here at Paddy’s Online Shop, and at all good bookstores in Ireland, as well as through Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.com (via various Irish booksellers), and directly from Orpen Press. THE ROAD FROM CASTLEBARNAGH is also available as an e-book from Orpen Press, in Kindle editions from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, from iTunes, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and via the independent booksellers’ e-book format, Kobo.

SYNOPSIS: THE ROAD FROM CASTLEBARNAGH recounts the many adventures of Paddy O’Brien, Irish traditional musician, composer and collector, as a boy growing up more than half a century ago in the Midlands of Ireland. Paddy grew up in a small thatched house without running water or electricity, near the town of Daingean in County Offaly. It was a time when the social life in the Irish countryside often took place around the hearth fire, where stories were told and music was played. Paddy relates stories of thatching the house with his father, the ringing of the big pig, the boys’ National School, turf cutting, a ghostly confrontation and the Banshee. His colourful autobiography introduces readers to the many interesting characters who shaped his own perception of Irish life and culture. Written in an easy-going, storytelling style, this book is for anyone interested in Irish traditional music and life in rural Ireland in the mid-20th century. There’s a particular emphasis on Paddy’s own development as a traditional musician and the experience of growing up within the music.

“A colourful and often compelling evocation of a life consumed by music, and by the sense of community that underscored it.” — Siobhán Long, IRISH TIMES, Dublin “O’Brien’s graceful, lyrical prose flows with a spring-fed stream’s purity, and his natural gift as a storyteller lilts along with the cadence, mystery and depth of one of his jigs or reels.” — MinnPost.com, Minneapolis “…A rare gift… All Irish musicians, and anyone interested in the passing of old ways into new times, will find this memoir rewarding and worthwhile.” — Sherry Ladig, Irish Music & Dance Association, Saint Paul “His memory is spectacular, his writing lovely, and it’s great fun to imagine the vastly different world he describes in this book.” — Nathan Gourley, Irish traditional fiddle player on Amazon.com

Read more about THE ROAD FROM CASTLEBARNAGH, including an excerpt, here.

Book reviewers and media people interested in review copies should get in touch with Paddy directly via e-mail (paddyobrien@qwest.net), or contact publicists Peter O’Connell (Ireland) or Larisa Werstler (US) at:

Peter O’Connell Media 29/30 Dame St, Dublin 2, Ireland
Phone: + 353 (0)87 681 4499    Email:  peter@peteroconnellmedia.com

Larisa Werstler Dufour Editions, 124 Byers Road, PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425
Phone:  (610) 458-5005 / Fax:  (610) 458-7103    Email:   factotum@dufoureditions.com

US-based booksellers wishing to carry the book should contact:
info@dufoureditions.com          http://www.slirz.com/contact-us/



Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection Goes Digital

paddy-obrien-cdbaby_220x220 The full Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection is available for digital downloading. Irish music learners and others can download individual tunes, full albums, or all 1,000 tunes in the collection. In 1995, Paddy released Volume One of the Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection, including 400 reels and 100 jigs from his vast repertoire of Irish traditional music. In 2011, Volume Two was completed. The second volume comprised yet another 500 tunes—150 double jigs, and 120 hornpipes, 100 polkas, 100 reels, and 30 slip jigs.

Download from CD Baby

Download from Paddy’s website

Purchase booklets from Paddy’s website

Not since Captain Francis O’Neill compiled The Music of Ireland in 1903 has a collection of this size and scope been made available to the general public. And no single individual in the world of Irish traditional music has ever undertaken such an ambitious project as 1,000 tunes from memory. What also sets the Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection apart is the fact that it is created for players, like O’Brien himself, who learn music in the traditional manner—by ear. In addition to his remarkable memory, Paddy O’Brien’s special gift is also that of a great ear, not only for variations and interpretation, but for techniques and even notes peculiar to certain regional styles, instruments, and players. His store of lesser‑known regional and personal versions of tunes includes, for example, three settings of “The Moving Cloud,” four settings of “Drowsy Maggie,” and three of “The Wild Irishman.” Many of the versions included in this second volume of the Tune Collection have never before been recorded or transcribed.

The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection is also set apart by the written materials which accompany the tunes (available separately from the downloads HERE). Paddy O’Brien’s phenomenal memory extends not only to notes and variations, but to titles, and to the history that accompanies the tunes—when he received them and from whom; when and by whom they were composed or first introduced into the popular tradition. Keeping the learner in mind, the written notes on the music also include suggested keys, information on techniques used, and some basic ideas on how the tunes are arranged into selections. These considerations are as much a part of the tradition as the tunes themselves, and give the learner a depth of knowledge about Irish music and culture not available from commercial recordings.

The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection is available exclusively online from CD Baby and directly from Paddy at http://www.paddyobrien.net/tune-collection/.


MSAB-LEGACY-logos The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection has been supported over the years, in part, by grants from the Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship Program, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Irish Fair of Minnesota Legacy Fund.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.


For more information, or to schedule an interview with Paddy O’Brien,

please call + 1 651-698-2258 or e-mail paddyobrien@qwest.net



 Paddy Honored as Ireland’s Traditional Composer of the Year

Irish language television network TG4 has honored Offaly-born button accordion icon Paddy O’Brien with its 2012 Gradam Ceoil Traditional Composer of the Year Award. Paddy joins a long list of Irish traditional music luminaries with this honor, including previous winners Paddy Fahy, Vincent Broderick, Charlie Lennon, Peadar Ó Riada, and Liz Carroll.

This year’s Gradam Ceoil recipients range over a wide spectrum of talents. Those honored in the various categories include a legendary Donegal fiddler who also spent most of his life in London, a US-based world-renowned composer and scholar originally from Offaly, an Armagh couple whose life has been spend teaching traditional music in that city and county and two young Gaeltacht musicians from Ring and Muskerry who, while still in their early twenties, have already achieved much in their chosen musical disciplines. The full list of TG4 Gradam Ceoil 2012 recipients is:

  • Gradam Ceoil (Musician) – Brian Rooney, fiddle
  • Ceoltóir Óg (Young Musician) – Caoimhín Ó Fearghail, uilleann pipes
  • Gradam Saoil (Hall of Fame) – Danny Meehan, fiddle
  • Cumadóir (Composer) – Paddy O’Brien, button accordion
  • Amhránaí (Singer) – Nell Ní Chróinín
  • Gradam Aitheantais (Contributions) – Eithne agus Brian Vallely, fiddle and uilleann pipes


What the Critics Say About Paddy…

Bill Margeson, Irish Music Magazine:

“The music. Button box wizard Paddy O’Brien gets it. Really gets it. ‘What I like in a musician now,’ states Paddy, ‘is the one who plays the nicest tune, even more than the technical musicianship.’ In that one sentence the legendary Offaly-born button box player encapsulates a life spent in the center and soul of Irish music. And that center is the music itself. Not the current fashion. Not the current ‘hot’ group. Not ‘the buzz.’ The music. Period. Full stop.”

Sally Sommers Smith, Irish Music Magazine (about CHULRUA):

“In its recalling of past masters, in its thoughtful and well-crafted performances, this recording is at once a wakeup call and a reminder of the things that matter in Irish traditional music.”

Eileen McCabe, independent music critic:

“This man’s playing caused a silent stir… and his latest release ‘Mixing The Punch’ expresses the very same vibe … that of enjoying the moment of every note played through the dextrous fingers of an esteemed musician.”

The Celtic Society of Monterey Bay, CA:

“Paddy’s scholarship also comes through in concerts which are greatly enhanced by his lively stories of tune name origins and yarns about the people from whom (he) collected the tunes. It would be remiss, though, to neglect to mention that Paddy made his reputation through his playing, having the ability to distill the dreams, tragedy, and romance of Ireland, and pour them out in full measure through his accordion.”

The Boston Irish Reporter (about CHULRUA):

“Their playing together is stellar; it’s like listening to a conversation between old friends…”

Tom Clancy, Irish Music Magazine (about CHULRUA):

“There’s something beautifully pristine about the music on this recording—it leaps into life every time. O’Brien has an unyielding respect, even reverence, for the melody. He insists that you hear it in its purest, most memorable form.”

The Irish Edition (about CHULRUA):

“Students of the music, masters of their instruments, these three fit together with a tightness and perfection to be envied.”

Philadelphia Folk Song Society (about CHULRUA):

“Their striking and skillful approach to their music is a fitting match to their deep love and understanding of the material and culture it represents. If you are a fan of the real Irish dance tune, this will be a vital addition to your collection.”

Dirty Linen:

“A must for Celtophiles!”

The Irish Voice:

“Among the many great performances given at the festival, a set from fiddler Tommy Peoples and button accordionist Paddy O’Brien stood out for sheer virtuosity and true traditional musicality.”

Ireland Sunday Tribune (about CHULRUA):

“…terrifically crisp and clear unison music.”