Séamus Begley

Singer, Accordionist and Storyteller

seamus begley at Chamber Music on Valentia Feastival

Singer, accordionist and storyteller, Séamus comes from the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area) of Dingle, in Co. Kerry where he grew up speaking Irish and English fluently. Seamus is a member of the famous musical family from Baile na bPoc, Ballydavid and he has been both singing and playing from an early age. At 14 he started playing the accordion at local dances. In 1972 he recorded his first album, An Ciarraíoch Mallaithe with his sister Máire. They made a second album, Planxtaí Bhaile na bPoc, for Gael Linn in 1989, with Seamus on accordion, Máire on piano and piano-accordion, both singing, and introducing the famous Australian guitarist Steve Cooney.

Well known for his work with Steve, the duo played polkas and slides from the West Kerry Tradition, creating a legend in Irish music. Meitheal (an Irish term for coming together to do a job), which was released in 1996 throws together Séamus, a very traditional accordion player, with Steve, a rambler and ex-rock guitarist from Australia resulting in a brilliant fusion of energy and tradition, with neither being compromised by the other. Most of the tracks are traditional dance tunes, featuring fast and furious polkas (‘polcas’) and slides native to the Kerry region and the last set is a live one from a dancing session in a Kerry pub. Séamus also sings a number of songs in Irish, in a traditional, unpretentious style.

Following on from the outstanding Begley and Cooney release, Séamus’s most recent CD Ragairne (Revelling at Night), recorded with guitarist Jim Murray, was voted 2001 ‘Traditional Album of the Year’ in both Hot Press and The Irish Times. One review says, “If it’s a shot in the arm you’re after, Begley and Murray are the men to call on. …. Begley seems to have successfully married all the wilderness of West Kerry with a sublime talent for the feather light touch, when required.” Mary Black has also participated on this album where she sings a duet with Séamus called An Ciarraíoch Mallaithe.

Séamus has successfully toured Australia many times with Jim Murray. More recently Séamus has joined up with guitarist Jon Sanders for various gigs in Ireland and England as well as a very well-received tour of New Zealand. He also has played many gigs with the English guitar player Tim Edey.