Séamus Connolly is a world-renowned Irish traditional musician, performer, and teacher from Killaloe, Co. Clare, now living in Maine. In addition to ten All Ireland solo fiddle championships, his honors include the Sligo Fiddler of Dooney Competition in 1967 and four Oireachtas duet titles with flutist Peadar Ó Loughlin. As a young man, Connolly played with several prominent bands including the Kilfenora Céilí Band, the Inis Cealtra Céilí Band, and the Leitrim Céilí Band, which in 1962 won the senior céilí band All-Ireland title.
Connolly immigrated to the United States in 1976 and settled with his family in the Boston area, where he became a leader within New England’s Irish traditional music community. He taught fiddle classes for Boston’s Hanafin-Cooley Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, co-hosted the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann weekly radio show with fiddle player Larry Reynolds, and participated in two Masters of the Folk Violin tours. He recorded two solo fiddle albums, Notes from My Mind (1988, remastered 2006) and Here and There (1989). His collaborations include The Banks of the Shannon (1973, reissued 1993) with Paddy O’Brien and Charlie Lennon, Warming Up (1993) with Martin Mulhaire, Jack Coen, and Felix Dolan, and The Boston Edge (2004) with Joe Derrane and John McGann. In addition to performing, recording, and composing, Connolly has contributed significantly to Irish traditional music education and preservation in the United States. He has received numerous distinctions for his work as a performance artist, teacher, and tradition bearer, including a National Heritage Fellowship (2013) and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2013).
From 1990 until his retirement in 2015, Connolly directed the Irish Music, Song, and Dance Program at Boston College. He founded the Gaelic Roots festival as a weekend event in 1993, expanding it to a week-long event in 1997 through 2003. In this endeavor he was advised and assisted by his wife Chrysandra Walter. Boston College’s Center for Irish Programs publicly recognized Connolly’s contributions to the university in 2004 by awarding the chair and title, Sullivan Artist in Residence in Irish Music. He is currently working with the Boston College University Libraries on a music collection that will be released in digital form in 2016.