Belfast TradFest - Belfast Summer School of Traditional Music
27th July - 2nd August 2019


Enrol & Book

Belfast Summer School of Traditional Music

The team of international tutors is made up of master performers with proven track records as teachers and educationalists. The primary means of teaching and learning is ‘by ear’ with an emphasis in the less experienced classes of assisting pupils to develop oral/aural skills in addition to instrumental competency and developing core repertoire. There is a maximum of 15 students per class.


Button Accordion - Conor Connolly

Button Accordion - Conor Connolly


Classes take place Monday 29th July - Friday 2nd August 2019 10:00am - 1:00pm at Ulster University Belfast Campus.

This class is designed for Intermediate to Advanced adults and children over 6 years of age. Fee includes admission to all programme events with exception of evening concerts. 

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Conor Connolly

Young Musician of the Year / Ceoltóir Óg TG4 2019, Conor Connolly comes from South Co. Galway. An accordion player and singer, his music and song is rooted in his home county – some of his main accordion influences being Joe Cooley, Charlie Harris and P.J. Conlon, as well as Tony Mac Mahon. His playing is full of heart and soul, with a great understanding and respect for the tradition and the players he learnt from. He has already played with some of the most renowned traditional musicians we have today and is well respected by them, as well as being highly regarded amongst his peers. He is one of the most traditional and solid accordion players of his generation and is an inspiration to many.

Conor, born on 30th May 1993 comes from the parish of Clarinbridge in South Galway. He is the youngest of three brothers and grew up living on a farm. Although none of his family played music, his parents Anne and Patrick would have had traditional music playing on the radio or on television at home. He started playing tin whistle at age 8 in Killeeneen N.S and with encouragement from his parents moved onto the accordion at age 12 going to lessons with teacher Mary Murray in Athenry. He then attended the Anne Conroy Burke and Joe Burke school of music, in Kilnadeema near Loughrea for a few years while playing with the local Kilnadeema branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and local musicians.

In his late teens, he heard the music of Joe Cooley for the first time as well as other players Tony MacMahon, Fiachna Ó Mongáin and Eoin O’Neill which spurred him to change from the conventional B/C style of playing to the C#/D system. Charlie Harris who lived locally was also a great source of inspiration and encouragement introducing him to the music of the 78rpm era and such players as P.J Conlon of Miltown Co. Galway and Sligo fiddle maestro James Morrison, Killoran and Lad O’Beirne and others such as Joe Derrane and groups like the Lough Gill Quartet featuring Bill Harte and Sonny Brogan. The influence of uilleann piping is also discernible in his music particularly that of Willie Clancy, Seamus Ennis, Sean McKiernan and Jimmy O Brien Moran to mention a few.

Conor has performed and gave workshops at many of the Traditional Music festivals at home and abroad such as Rencontres Musicales Irlandaises De Tocane in France, Feakle International Music Festival, Scoil Cheoil na Botha in Monaghan, Cooley-Collins Traditional Music Festival in Gort and Féile Traidphicnic in Spiddal amongst others He was also the musician in residence for the ‘Tunes in the Church’ concert series which runs in Galway city for the summer of 2016.

The highlights of his musical life to date, has been performing alongside Ronan O’Flaherty and Brian McGrath at the 2018 Galway International Arts Festival and with Frankie Gavin, Joe Burke and Pádraic O’Reilly in “Accordion to Joe – A tribute to Joe Cooley, Joe Derrane and Joe Burke” at Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Ennis 2017. He has featured on broadcasts on TG4, RTÉ Radió na Gaeltachta and Clare FM to date.

Conor is based full time in Galway where he plays most Friday and Saturday evenings in Tigh Coili’s bar. Conor’s music is vibrant and full of the life reminiscent of the great Galway accordion players who have gone before. He possesses a true understanding of the tradition. He is also known to sing a song and play a bit of accompaniment.  In his own words…

“I don’t play GAA or travel that much I’m afraid. I’ve travelled to France and Denmark playing music. The music itself is what I’m into”.