Martin Connolly is highly regarded
as an accordion maker, musician and accordion teacher. A native of Killaloe,
Co. Clare, he now resides in Ennis, Co. Clare. Martin grew up in a house where
music was a major part of everyday life. Both his parents were musicians.
His father Mick played flute and step-danced in the old traditional style.
His mother Lena played piano and accordion. Both his brothers also played
music, Michael played piano and Seamus played the fiddle. Seamus is one of
the world's most respected masters of the Irish fiddle. He won the All-Ireland
fiddle championship ten times, a feat unequaled by any other musician. Seamus
is currently director of the Irish Studies Programme at Boston College.
Music sessions were commonplace in the Connolly household in Killaloe, with names like Paddy O Brien, Joe Burke and Charlie and Ben Lennon regular visitors. Indeed everybody who liked to play Irish traditional music were made feel welcome in Connollys and it was inevitable that Martin would continue the tradition. With encouragement from his parents and the visiting musicians, Martin started playing the accordion and progressed steadily. He went on to win All-Ireland titles at all levels and is now one of the top accordion players of today, never compromising his music to achieve this status.
Martin has been teaching music on a weekly basis in Ennis for the last twenty-five years and is recognize as probably the top accordion teacher in the country, with many of his students getting top honours in all competitions each year. Martin has traveled extensively in Europe, Canada and the USA performing and teaching. In 1995 he had the honour of representing Ireland at the Carrefour Mondial de L'Accordéon, World Accordion Festival in Quebec, Canada and shared the stage with names like Valentino Lorenzetti from Italy, Tony Russo from Switzerland, Francois Heim from France and Stephane Landray from Quebec, Canada.
Martins talents were not confined to performing and teaching. From an early age he took an interest in the mechanics of the accordion. He set up his own tuning and repair business after learning most of the skills from Nils Nielson who was regarded by many as being "the only one to tune a box". Nielson was a former employee of the now defunct Paolo Soprani company and was exclusive tuner to the world leading accordionist Toralf Tollefson. It is said that there was nothing Nils didn't know about the accordion and his willingness to divulge many of his secrets to Martin were an invaluable help in bringing the Kincora Accordion to what it is today. After returning from Quebec in 1995 Martin began designing and making his first accordion which was completed in March 1996. A year later the Kincora was awarded 1st prize in the Clare enterprise exhibition. Today these handmade accordions are many musicians first choice and their popularity are increasing worldwide.
Martin has made two recordings over the years and has produced a CD for his son Damien
|The Fort of Kincora||Martin Connolly and Maureen Glynn Connolly||Kincora Records||1987|
|Back to Brooklyn||Martin Connolly, Maureen Glynn Connolly & Friends||Kincora Records||1999|
|Tippin' Away||Damien Connolly and Pete Mancuso||Kincora Records||2001|
Fort of Kincora is no longer available. Back to Brooklyn was released in memory
of Maureen Glynn Connolly who tragically died in 1998 after a brave fight
against cancer. It also features five young pupils of Maureen. A fitting tribute
to a great lady. Martin produced Tippin' Away for his son Damien on the Kincora
three voice accordion and melodeon and Pete Mancuso on guitar.