Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection-Volume Two

1,000 Tunes From Memory — Irish Music Master Paddy O’Brien
Releases Volume Two of His Extraordinary Tune Collection

POBTC2-500x500SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA, 11/7/11— Paddy O’Brien of County Offaly, the All-Ireland accordion champion renowned as one of the most powerful and passionate players of Irish traditional music today, has released a second volume of his historic recording project, The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection. Over the past half-century, O’Brien has earned a reputation as a walking encyclopedia of Irish traditional music; according to conservative estimates, he carries in his head more than 3,000 Irish melodies.

In 1995, O’Brien released Volume One of The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection, including 400 reels and 100 jigs from his vast repertoire. Now The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection, Volume Two is complete. This second volume comprises yet another 500 tunes—150 double jigs, and 120 hornpipes, 100 polkas, 100 reels, and 30 slip jigs.

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. 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 (Volume One and Volume Two) is available exclusively online from

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



For more information, or to schedule an interview with Paddy O’Brien, please contact Erin Hart / + 1 651-698-2258 / e-mail

(Complete information on the Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection, plus reviews, photographs and a short biography of Paddy O’Brien are attached.)




The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection is an historic compilation of 1,000 jigs, reels, slip jigs, polkas, and hornpipes from the repertoire of Paddy O’Brien, a master accordion player originally from County Offaly in Ireland, now resident in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Created especially for serious students of Irish music, this unique collection can help today’s players learn Irish traditional tunes the way they were traditionally handed down.

Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection—Volume One
400 reels, 100 jigs
Ten CDs in a zippered leather wallet
Spiral-bound booklet (124 pp.) with background information on each tune
Each tune is played through several times on solo accordion, in a catalog‑style presentation.
Library of Congress Catalog Number:  95092420

Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection—Volume Two
150 double jigs, 120 hornpipes, 100 polkas, 100 reels, 30 slip jigs
Thirteen CDs in a zippered leather wallet
Spiral-bound booklet (126 pp.) with background information on each tune
Each tune is played through several times on solo accordion, in a catalog‑style presentation.
Library of Congress Catalog Number:  95092420





A product of County Offaly in the midlands of Ireland, Paddy O’Brien is regarded by serious players and collectors of Irish traditional music as one of the tradition’s most important repositories; in a musical career that spans nearly fifty years, he has gained an international reputation as a walking encyclopedia of Irish music; it’s estimated that he carries in his head more than 3,000 Irish tunes—jigs, reels, hornpipes, airs, and marches, including many rare and unusual tunes. His mastery of the two-row button accordion has been acknowledged through prestigious awards: he was named Oireachtas champion four times, and All-Ireland senior accordion champion in 1975.

Before emigrating to the United States, Paddy played and recorded in Ireland during the 1960s and 1970s with Dublin’s fabled Castle Ceili Band and Ceoltoiri Laighean. In 1978, he  began playing regularly in the United States, in Washington DC, Saint Louis, Saint Paul, San Francisco, Boston, New York, and many places between. He has been featured on more than two dozen critically-acclaimed recordings, many considered among the classics of Irish traditional music. (Complete CV and discography at:

In more than five decades as a professional musician, Paddy has performed all over the North America and Ireland, as well as in France, Germany, and Russia. He has taught at the prestigious Willie Clancy Summer School in Milltown Malbay, County Clare; The Swannanoa Gathering; Catskills Irish Arts Week, Goderich Celtic College, and has lectured and taught all over North America, Ireland, and Europe. He has served four times a master artist in the Minnesota State Arts Board Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program. In 1995, he began a project  to record and document 1,000 tunes from his vast repertoire of traditional music; the result of that effort, the Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection, has received accolades from players of Irish music around the world. More recently, Paddy has received a prestigious Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship, and project grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Irish Fair of Minnesota Legacy Fund. He was chosen as the 2010 honoree of the Twin Cities Irish Music & Dance Association for his contributions to Irish music and culture in Minnesota.





“Paddy’s settings are always faithful to his sources, while containing his own ‘stamp’. There is considerable complexity in his settings and variations, lots to think about. I am finding myself humming tunes from the collection I haven’t thought about for a long time. I could not be happier with the collection.”
– Frank Claudy, Davenport, IA – April 2001

“For anyone interested in playing and learning to play traditional Irish music I heartily and unreservedly recommend Paddy O’Brien’s Tune Collection which has recorded 500 reels and jigs… He is very spare with ornamentation and yet he provides some beautiful examples of melodic variation on each tune. It’s like having a master class in your living room.”
– Chris Moran, California – April 2001

“Thank you for the Tune Collection. I’m on my second round of listening. I refer to your notes constantly. Your tempo really puts the tunes in the spotlight and I feel like I’m hearing some of the old standards for the first time. If listening wasn’t so enjoyable, I’d almost say that your collection and the notes are a graduate level course in Irish music!”
– Kevin Dailey, Washington DC – May 2000

“Aspiring musicians not lucky enough to study with Paddy personally can still take advantage of his massive repertoire by getting The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection, which includes a book and 10 CDs of Paddy playing 500 reels and jigs. The collection has proved a hit with musicians from as far away as the Australian outback and is an invaluable source of new repertoire for players of all levels. It’s not cheap, but it beats the price of airfare to Minnesota for personal instruction.”
– Don Meade, The Irish Voice, New York NY — May 26, 1999

” I have a few treasured possessions that bring a smile to my heart just to look at them. My old tattered copy of Vol. 1 of Breathnach’s Ceol Rince in its plain red cover is one, and my Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection has joined their ranks. And at the rate I’m going I’ll be playing them daily for the next year or two. Thank you, Paddy, and everyone involved in putting this collection together! ”
– Mark Bickford, Ithaca NY – August 1995