Caoimhín Vallely talks to Tradconnect about his upcoming Irish tour with brothers Cillian and Niall.

On September 17th 2014 brothers Niall, Cillian and Caoimhín Vallely start a short countrywide tour in Ireland.  Surprisingly this is their first time to in concert together. Cillian continues his touring with Lúnasa and Niall and Caoimhín with Buille. Their output and collaborations over the years have been significant and when you look at the press release for this tour it is enlightening with regards their various projects.

In addition to Lúnasa and Buille “they are (and were) the driving forces behind the groups Nomos, and North Cregg, and individually they have performed and recorded with artists of the calibre of Béla Fleck, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Tim O'Brien, Riverdance, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Natalie Merchant, Paddy Keenan, Martin Hayes, and Dónal Lunny. Cillian also features on the most recent Bruce Springsteen album - High Hopes.”

Quite an impressive roll call.  We caught up with Caoimhín recently and the most obvious question was, why have they not toured together before?

“We've all toured in various combinations but never as a dedicated trio (albeit one with guest guitar player Ross Martin)” Caoimhín says. “We've all been busy doing our own things and with Cillian living in New York, finding the time is difficult. One of the influencing factors in deciding to do this tour was a project we all took part in called Rakish Paddy Blues. This was a piece we were commissioned to put together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the William Kennedy Piping Festival which our father runs. It went very well and inspired us to try and dream up an excuse to do more stuff together”.


Following this the brothers found the time to send out a few exploratory emails to prospective venues. The response as you can imagine was hugely positive, and from it a rather respectable set of dates emerged.  They start in Coughlan’s Bar, Cork on 17th September and they follow that with gigs in Castlebar, Wicklow, Limerick, Carrick-on-Shannon, Armagh and finally Belfast on 27th September.

With regard to the material that they will play Caoimhín confirms that a vast common repertoire will underpin their music on the tour.  “I suppose we've all been doing gigs and recording together in various combinations over the years so have naturally built up a significant amount of common repertoire” he says.  “. In particular Cillian and Niall have been touring extensively in the states recently while myself and Niall are recording and touring as Buille all the time. The 'third' brother often finds himself brought into these projects on occasion! Cillian is also in the process of recording his debut solo album which will also feature the other two. So all this along with the repertoire we would have learnt from our parents at the Armagh Pipers Club provide ample material from which to choose. We'll also be putting some new sets together. In general though the music will probably be a bit more 'traditional' than some of the other projects/groups we've been involved in of late!”

Distance is no longer an obstacle in the modern Internet age and a lot of the rehearsal work, if not some of the playing will be done online! “Cillian's in New York, Niall and myself are in Cork, while Ross Martin (our guitar player) lives on the west coast of Scotland - so getting together much in advance isn't really possible! We'll just have to spend a few days in the intensive training camp before the tour, to whip us into shape!”

This tour is not being supported by any of the Arts Organisations Caoimhín explains. “We didn't apply for anything, as we weren't really organised enough, so we're not giving out.  We all started doing this in the good old days when bands were paid based on how many people came to their gigs. Things have changed considerably in the meantime and the idea of doing a gig now, let alone a tour, without a grant seems very novel indeed! Needless to say we're not expecting this tour to make us rich!  We're going to some of our favourite places in the country as well as some new spots so we're all really looking forward to it. Hopefully we'll get a few sessions and meet plenty of friends along the way as well.”

Once the tour is over Cillian will return to recording his debut solo album and Niall and Caoimhín are in the middle of a new Buille album. There are no plans for anything with the three brothers together just yet. “Maybe after this tour we'll be motivated into doing something” Caoimhín says.

For this article Caoimhín has released a number of exclusive tracks from recordings over the years.  We include a track from Buille 2 ( The Oblique Jig ) as well as 3 additional tracks from Callan Bridge recorded in 2002 by Niall and Cillian, but also featuring Caoimhín.  


The album notes for Callan Bridge are also quite revealing stating that “it was recorded over several months on two continents during those intervals when the brothers’ tour itineraries made it possible for them to get to the studio. Practice time was limited, but years of playing together have given Niall and Cillian a near-telepathic musical understanding, as demonstrated by the extraordinary note-for-note synchronicity achieved in their duet selections. They were also helped out by some of their friends, who happen to be among the best and most innovative in the business: for the Philadelphia recordings U.S.-based guitarists Donal Clancy and John Doyle; and for the sessions in Ireland younger brother Caoimhín Vallely on the piano and Armagh guitarist Paul Meehan”.

Discovering this album now is also quite a revelation and were it released today it would be very quickly climbing the charts.  It should also provide a glimpse of what is in store for people on this tour.

Tour dates are included below starting on 17th September in Cork.  


Wednesday 17th September - 9pm - Coughlan's Bar, 7 Douglas Street, Cork - 021 496 1751 -

Thursday 18th September - 8pm – Linenhall Arts Centre, Linenhall Street, Castlebar, Co. Mayo - 094 902 3733 -

Saturday 20th September - 8pm – St. Kevin's Church of Ireland, Music Under the Mountains Festival, Hollywood, Co. Wicklow -

Tuesday 23rd September - 1.15pm - Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, UL, Limerick -

Tuesday 23rd September - 8.30pm – Dolan's, Dock Road, Limerick - 061 314 483 -

Wednesday 24th September - 8pm – The Dock, St. Georges Terrace, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim -071 96 50828 -

Thursday 25th September - 8pm – Market Place Theatre, Market Street, Armagh - +44 (0)28 3752 1821

Saturday 27th September - 8pm – An Droichead, Cooke Street, Ormeau Road, Belfast - +44 (0)28 90 288818 -


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