Liam O’Flynn left ‘a perfect legacy for generations of musicians’

Here’s a nice piece written by Leagues O’Toole author of the must read “The Humours of Planxty” book.

Liam O’Flynn’s abilities first came to prominence as a member of the cutting-edge trad-folk band Planxty.


There has been a sad sense of anticipation leading up to the passing of Liam O’Flynn, or Liam Óg Ó Floinn as he was often referred to, amongst those who knew of his illness.

O’Flynn was no ordinary musician. There was something deeply significant about his work with the ground-breaking group Planxty, his remarkable solo recordings, his collaboration with late poet laureate Seamus Heaney, and other landmark projects such as The Brendan Voyage with composer Shaun Davey in 1980. It’s also no coincidence that O’Flynn graced the recordings of some of the music world’s deepest thinkers such as Kate Bush, Emmy-Lou Harris and Enya.


Liam O’Flynn: master piper VIEW NOW

Liam O’Flynn plays for Paddy Glackin

O’Flynn was the foremost living exponent of that most mystical instrument, the uilleann pipes. He didn’t so much play the pipes as search them for the deeply resonant rapture and reflection that they brought to Irish music. Seamus Heaney perhaps said it best himself in the sleeve-notes of O’Flynn’s incredible 1995 solo album The Given Note: “There has always been a classical quality about Liam O’Flynn’s playing, a level, confident strength: you feel that he is unshakably part of a tradition. But there is something up and away about his style, a sheer delight in his own personal impulse. His great stature as a piper turns out to be one more instance of the truth of Oscar Wilde’s paradoxical law that in art the opposite is also true: in other words, behind these tunes you can hear freedom as well as discipline, elegy as well as elation, a longing for solitude as well as a love of the seisiun.”

Liam O’Flynn’s abilities first came to prominence as a member of the cutting-edge trad-folk band Planxty, put together by Christy Moore and also featuring Dónal Lunny and Andy Irvine. His piping and tin-whistle playing were central to the band’s exhilarating opening period in the early 1970s, beginning with Moore’s Prosperous album and the game-changing Planxty debut “the Black Album”. A regular feature of the Planxty performance was when the other musicians put down their instruments as O’Flynn performed a solo air or “aisling”, which always brought the venue to a meditative standstill followed by an emotional eruption of applause.

O’Flynn was universally considered a kind, thoughtful and private man. He lived in Kildare, where he felt a deep affinity with the land and a shared love of horses with his wife Jane, a well-known showjumper.

The Kildare-born musician began his journey with the uilleann pipes under the tutelage of the great Leo Rowsome, and quickly became a star apprentice winning numerous prizes at Oireachtas and Fleadh Ceoil competitions. He later developed under the guidance and influence of two giants of piping, Willie Clancy and Seamus Ennis. Through these influences O’Flynn developed an important understanding of the role he played within the tradition and lineage of Irish music culture. As he said himself: “Seamus Ennis gave me much more than a bag of notes.” And O’Flynn, as Master Uileann Piper of Ireland, never compromised this position once, leaving a perfect legacy for generations of younger musicians within this “living tradition” to learn from.

Happy St. Patricks Day!


Sad News: Uilleann piper Liam O’Flynn dies

Liam O’Flynn was born to a musical family in Kildare in 1945
The uilleann piper Liam Óg O’Flynn has died. He had been ill for some time.He was well known as a member of the traditional group Planxty with Christy Moore, Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny.O’Flynn also played on a number of best-selling discs, including the Brendan Voyage and Grainne Mhaol.

He was regarded as a master piper and a global ambassador for traditional Irish music.

O’Flynn was born in Kildare in 1945 to a musical family.

He gravitated towards the uilleann pipes and by 11 he was taking classes with the renowned Leo Rowsome.

He formed Planxty alongside Moore, Lunny and Irvine and they became an influential and innovative group.

They toured extensively and O’Flynn was able to bring his skill with the uilleann pipes to a worldwide audience.

Planxty broke up in the mid 1980s, but O’Flynn’s career continued to flourish playing with several famous musicians, including Kate Bush, Emmy Lou Harris and Mark Knopfler.

He also worked with composer Shaun Davey on the Brendan Voyage.

His expertise was extensive and he worked with orchestras, on film soundtracks and with poet Seamus Heaney.

The Arts Council has expressed its regret at the passing of O’Flynn.

Chair of the Arts Council Sheila Pratschke said: “Liam O’Flynn has left behind him an incredible legacy of music through his recordings, his careful support of other musicians and artists and his dedication to transmission of the great heritage of Irish music to future generations.”

Ms Pratchske said he had a huge influence on the artistic life of Ireland and was well known for his artistic collaborations with artists from other traditions and practices.

Arts and Media Correspondent


Planxty Live 1979 Album to be released March 24th 2018!

Radio Bremen Issues 1979 Planxty Recording

Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Liam O’Flynn, Christy Moore and Matt Molloy

Radio Bremen Issues 1979 Planxty Recording

Concert took place at Bremen University during an extensive European tour.

Radio Bremen and the MIG (Made in Germany) label have released One Night in Bremen, a live recording of the original Planxty line-up along with Matt Molloy in April 1979.

The concert took place at Bremen University amidst an extensive European tour in which they played forty-seven concerts in fifty-eight days.

Recalling the tour, Andy Irvine writes in the sleeve notes:

In the spring of 1978, Christy was playing with The Christy Moore Band, Donal was in The Bothy Band, which was in the process of breaking up, Liam was playing solo and I was either touring with Mick Hanly or playing solo too.

Christy saw it as a good time to recreate the ‘Original Planxty’. Liam and myself agreed wholeheartedly. I think I had been hoping for this moment for a couple of years. Donal still felt a responsibility towards the other members of The Bothy Band, but eventually he was persuaded and he brought with him the great Bothies flute player Matt Molloy…

Things were different. Looking back at it, we had all grown up by this time. Life was not as freewheeling as it had been. Mortgages had to be paid and children fed. Still we felt that we could pick up where we had left off in 1975 and a monster tour was planned for the spring of 1979…

I remember we played our tryout gig at The Meeting Place in Dublin, a pub that held about 60 people and two days later we opened the tour at the Hammersmith Odeon that held about 3,000! It was a nervous start.  The tour went on through Britain and Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Holland and finally Ireland. 45 gigs in 58 days. We finished in Dublin and the following week we were in the new Windmill Lane studios to record After the Break.

One Night in Bremen features 12 tracks, including ‘The Pursuit of Farmer Michael Hayes’, ‘You Rambling Boys of Pleasure’ and ‘Smecana Horo’. Listen to the opening track below.

The album will be released on vinyl, CDand online in March. For more, visit

Published on 28 February 2018


%d bloggers like this: