The Máirtín O'Connor Band

Galway, Co. Galway - Ireland

This masterclass offers a unique opportunity for young musicians to work closely with three of the country’s most highly acclaimed traditional musicians, Máirtín O’Connor (accordion), Cathal Hayden (fiddle, banjo), and Seamie O’Dowd (guitar, voice, fiddle). Over three days these acclaimed artists will work with a group of young musicians, taking them on an adventure of musical discovery that will culminate in a public performance (Day 3). During the masterclasses the young musicians will get the opportunity to:

  • work collaboratively with the visiting artists on creating arrangements of tunes and songs 
  • explore accompaniment, improvisation and/or composition
  • explore musical conversations between Irish traditional music and other genres 
  • experience what happens ‘behind the scenes’ in preparation for a performance
  • share the stage with the three master musicians
  • have the opportunity to learn about the life of a professional musician
  • learn more about the artistic practice of these master musicians
About The Máirtín O'Connor Band  ›


Day 1: Masterclass
Saturday 10th June 202313:00 - 18:00 @ Music Generation Galway City

Day 2: Masterclass cont.
Sunday 11th June11:00 - 17:00 @ Music Generation Galway City

Day 3: Rehearsal & Concert
Monday 12th June 202315:00 - 21:00 @ Town Hall Theatre, Galway

What You Will Learn

This project offers the young musician an opportunity to spend an intensive block of time with three of the country’s most established artists. Over the course of the masterclass the young musician will:

  • Learn to play some of the music of these master musicians

The artists will share some of their own music through performance – ahead of the masterclasses (via Padlet) and during the sessions. And you will be invited to learn some of this repertoire (tunes and songs). As part of this you will pick up some tips on technique and performance style from the musicians – and they will offer feedback on your own playing along the way. Much of the learning will be by ear; readers of staff notation and/or ABCs can also be accommodated.

  • Learn how a musical arrangement is built – and help build an arrangement

Looking at instrumental tunes and songs you will work collaboratively with the artists on building arrangements. As part of this you will explore topics such as how to choose material, how to assemble material, instrumentation/voicing/balance, adding harmony, rhythmic/melodic accompaniment, intros/outros/bridges/breaks etc.)

  • Learn how accompaniment works (in both tunes and songs) – and have a go at it
  • Learn how improvisation works – and get to try it out
  • Learn how these musicians approach composition – and try out some of their tips and tricks for yourself
  • Learn about how other music genres can influence Irish traditional music

Here you will learn about how these musicians take inspiration from other music genres – and see what happens when ideas and techniques and sounds from other music genres meet traditional music. And you will get to try this out for yourself.

  • Learn how to work collaboratively as part of a team
  • Learn how to work with a performance goal in mind
  • Learn what goes on behind the scenes as you prepare for a performance. You will experience first-hand how to select material, put a set list together, think about seating, lighting, introductions, bows, sound etc.
  • Share the stage with these legendary artists in a live performance, where you will showcase the arrangements you have worked on in the masterclasses
  • Learn about the life of a professional artist

You will have the opportunity to hear stories about the experiences of these musicians – and you will get the chance to ask them questions about their lives as professional artists in the ‘Ask Me Anything’ session (e.g. what’s it’s like to tour the world? Do you still practice? What was your best/worst gig ever?).

Fees & Additional Information


  • Masterclass Fees: €30  (special Music Generation discounted rate)
  • Fee includes the concert ticket
  • The fee will be payable to Music Generation Galway City on confirmation of application acceptance


  • Masterclass participants will be required to bring their own packed lunch / refreshments / drinks

Consent Forms

  • The masterclass and concert will be documented through photography and video, media consent forms will be made available

Schedules and Materials

  • Participants will receive pre-masterclass preparation notes and a time-table

How To Apply

Application Deadline

  • midnight, Sunday 21st May ‘23

Who can apply / application criteria:

  • Young musicians aged 14-18; you do not need to be a Music Generation learner to apply for this programme
  • Any instrumentation
  • Skill level - Intermediate and Advanced players
  • Singers - with proficiency on an instrument
  • Desirable experience - some experience of composing or song-writing or arranging
  • Young musicians who have experience as Irish traditional musicians
  • Young musicians who have little/no experience with Irish traditional music but who are interested in exploring this genre

This project is ideal for any young musician who is:

  • excited about working with master musicians
  • happy to work as part of a team in a collaborative way
  • interested in learning new things
  • curious about how the experience of the master musicians might influence their own music development
  • open to the idea of going on a musical journey – and seeing where it leads
  • committed to working hard and contributing to the masterclasses

Application Procedure

  • As there are limited places available for this masterclass (15 places) it is subject to application
  • Below is the online application form – the deadline is midnight Sunday 21st May
  • Music Generation Galway City will be in contact with all applicants on  Monday 22nd May
  • You can open the application form without registering to read the questions ahead of completing the form
  • If you are under the age of 18 you will need your parent or guardian to give their consent
  • If for any reason you are unable to complete the online application form email: or contact Music Generation Galway City: ​ / 086 014 6514  

This event is proudly supported by

logo arts councillogo music g galwaylogo townhall


Day 1: Masterclass
Saturday 10th June 202313:00 - 18:00 @ Music Generation Galway City

Day 2: Masterclass cont.
Sunday 11th June11:00 - 17:00 @ Music Generation Galway City

Day 3: Rehearsal & Concert
Monday 12th June 202315:00 - 21:00 @ Town Hall Theatre, Galway

The Máirtín O'Connor Band

The Máirtín O'Connor Band

Máirtín O'Connor, Cathal Hayden and Seamie O'Dowd have been building a formidable musical relationship under the guise of The Máirtín O'Connor Band since 2001.Individually recognised figureheads of the tradition, they have built solid reputations as master musicians with astounding skill, diversity and virtuosity.

Moving dexterously between compositions and pure tradition without ever altering the evocative power of its music, the trio produce a vibrant and musically charged experience that redefines one's concept of brilliance.

Máirtín O’Connor headshot

Máirtín O’Connor

Named Ireland’s 2015 Traditional Musician of the Year (TG4 Gradam Ceoil Awards) Máirtín O'Connor was one of the main musical forces behind the now legendary Riverdance phenomenon. Through his work with De Dannan, Midnight Well and Skylark and also as a solo artist, Máirtín has quite simply gone where no Irish accordion player had gone before. He is one of the most respected and best loved musicians ever to emerge from the country.

Cathal Hayden headshot

Cathal Hayden

Cathal Hayden needs no introduction to anyone even remotely familiar with traditional Irish music. A multiple All-Ireland Championship winner, he achieved world-wide recognition as one of the founder members of Four Men and a Dog. He is one of Ireland's top fiddlers and his solo banjo performances are quite simply show-stopping.

Seamie O’Dowd headshot

Seamie O’Dowd

Seamie O Dowd is a performer and composer/songwriter who plays guitar, fiddle, harmonica and mandolin. He has toured worldwide and played with many great musicians including; Christy Moore, The Chieftains, Dervish, Matt Molloy, Liam O' Flynn, Thom Moore, Dick Gaughan, Cathy Jordan, Rick Epping, Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill. His experience also includes recording production, teaching and film soundtrack work.