Recommended listening

Here are some recommendations for records to listen to if you want to expose yourself to good traditional playing. This is very much a partial list, in two senses: 1) it is incomplete and 2) it generally represents playing that I like. I will try to keep adding to it. Some of the records are not currently in print, but it is well worthwhile looking out for secondhand copies of them.

Please note that this list focuses mainly on solo records rather than bands. Although there is fine playing to be heard in many bands, immersing yourself in solo recordings is the fast track through the needle's eye.

Also, don't forget that there are clips by some very fine players, including some of those listed here, on the Brother Steve further study page. You get transcriptions and some trenchant analysis, too.

June 2005. This page is under construction. Here are a few very basic essential choices to get you started. I hope to add a few more whistle albums and some sections on other instruments.





Bríd O'Donohue Tobar an Dúchais
BOD001, 2005

Subtitled "Traditional Irish tin whistle music from County Clare." Superb new record from one of Ireland's finest players - beautiful settings, beautifully executed. Unaccompanied. A must. A review can be found here. Available from Custy's, Cranford Publications or direct from Bríd at You can listen to samples from the record on Bríd's site, and some other clips of Bríd's playing here.
Various artists Totally Traditional Tin Whistles
Ossian OSSCD53, 1992
Willie Clancy, Cathal McConnell, Micho Russell, Michael Tubridy, Fintan Vallely and others with a wonderful taste of traditional styles of playing. Unaccompanied. Some clips of Willie Clancy and Micho Russell here.
Mary Bergin Feadoga Stain I
Shanachie 79006, 1992 (originally released on LP, 1981)

This record put the whistle on the map as a serious instrument and inspired and set the standard for generations of players. With bouzouki and bodhran accompaniment.
Mary Bergin Feadoga Stain II
Shanachie 79083, 1993 (CD release)

More great playing from the world's best-known whistle player.
Sean Potts & Paddy Moloney Tin Whistles
Gael-Linn 1973, Atlantic Records

Exuberant solo and duet playing from Chieftains members Moloney and Potts. Lots of airs, some harmonies... and one very dated-sounding extended jam (on Julia Delaney). Some bodhran.
Donncha O Briain Irish Tin Whistle
Gael-Linn 1979

Fabulous playing from Donncha O Briain, who died a young man. Not available on CD, but do try to find an LP or cassette copy.
Mike McHale The Schoolmaster's House
MKM 7590, 2000
Whistle and flute solos from a fine traditional musician. Born in Roscommon, Mike emigrated to the US in the 1950s and is a veteran of the New York Irish music scene. Guitar accompaniment by Mary Coogan. Available from Ossian USA.
Tommy McCarthy Sporting Nell
Mareee Music MMC CD52, 1997
Unaccompanied whistle, pipes and concertina from an excellent Clare musician (d. 2000). A sample of Tommy's subtle whistle playing can be heard on our transcriptions page.
Micho Russell Ireland's Whistling Ambassador
The Pennywhistler's Press PWCD80001, 1995
"Easily the best of Micho's recordings" The Rough Guide to Irish Music. Available here. For a taste of the unique playing of this hugely influential musician, visit our transcriptions page.


While you are waiting for the flute section, try the recommended players section at Brad Hurley's site.

Updated: 13 June 2005