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Biography

Biography

I have been playing music since the age of 5 and teaching music in the Connemara Gaeltacht for over 30 years. I am a music examiner for the new syllabus in Irish traditional music, SCT, run by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and have tutored music teachers in their Teastas i dTeagasc Ceolta Tíre (CCTT) program. I teach master classes in whistle at Scoil Éigse, prior to Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann, and adjudicate at Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann, various provincial fleadhanna, féiseanna and An Oirechtas competitions. For a number of years, I taught whistle at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in France and give regular workshops at music festivals throughout the country. In addition, my family have kept the flame of traditional music alive for generations. Both my maternal and paternal grandmothers played concertina. My parents played fiddle. My brother, Sean Gavin, is an All-Ireland champion on the button accordion. My younger brother is Frankie Gavin, virtuoso fiddler, founder of De Danann and international recording artist.

Below is a write-up from TREOIR Vol. 44, No. 2, 2012 (Iris Oifigiúil Chomhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann)

The 14th of March was a gala day in the history of Irish traditional music when Nóirín Ní Shúilleabháin's new CD The Quiet House was launched at Áras Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, Kildare Street, Dublin. Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú did the honours on the day and in attendance were TDs amd Senators from all parties. Present on the day were Noreen's brothers fiddle virtuoso Frankie Gavin and All-Ireland accordionist Seá Gavin and other family members.

Noreen was born in Corrandulla in County Galway, where her father, J.J. Gavin, ran a small thatched pub. She remembers spending many a night, as a child, listening from the top of the stair with her brothers, Sean and Frankie, and sister, Marian, to visiting musicians such as Eddie Maloney, Tommy Mulhaire, John Conneely, Jimmy (“get the sax”) Hill and Paddy Farrell playing in the kitchen. Níl ón ngaoth a thug sí é. Music is in her blood. Her grandmothers played concertina (Noreen is also an accomplished concertina player) and her parents played fiddle. Her brother, Sean, is a former All Ireland champion on the button accordion and has toured the US and Europe. Her younger brother is Frankie Gavin, the celebrated fiddle virtuoso, international recording artist and founder member of De Danann. Her sister, Marian, is also an accomplished accordion-player.
Noreen has been playing music since the age of 5 and teaching music in the Connemara Gaeltacht for over 30 years to two generations of musicians. She is a music examiner for the syllabus in Irish traditional music, SCT, run by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and has tutored music teachers in their Teastas i dTeagasc Ceolta Tíre (CCTT) program. She teaches master classes in whistle at Scoil Éigse, adjudicates at Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann, various provincial fleadhanna, féiseanna and at Oireachtas na Samhain. For a number of years, she taught whistle at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in France and still gives regular workshops at music festivals throughout the country.
Noreen is an inspirational music teacher and firmly believes in passing on her skills to the next generation. She is an acknowledged master of the tin whistle and her talent, particularly on slow airs, is legendary. Now, after years of cajoling, pleading and peer-pressure, Noreen has finally released a CD of carefully chosen, rare traditional tunes plus three of her own compositions, including the title track, “The Quiet House”, inspired by her grand-daughter, Sophie.  
Noreen lives on the edge of the Atlantic near Carna in Connemara with her artist husband, Brendan. They have three children, all talented musicians. Seamus, a civil engineer, lives in Glenavy near Belfast with his wife Louise and baby Sophie. Sinead is a primary school teacher, married to Sean Commons and living in Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo. Donal is a senior business analyst with Citi, married to Dearbhla and living in Rathmichael, Co. Dublin.

Nóirín Uí Shúilleabháin is one of the finest exponents of whistle playing in the world of traditional Irish music. Her playing is characterised by its effortless flow, clarity and musicality, which, to the discerning ear, is based on an underlying mastery of technique, command and control of her instrument, the whistle. So many young musicians start their musical journey by ‘learning the whistle’, an instrument which is potentially one of the most ‘simply complex’ of instruments – Nóirín’s musicianship illustrates the full potential of this most ‘intimate’ of traditional instruments. Nóirín Uí Shúilleabháin is also known nationally for her detailed and dedicated commitment to teaching Irish traditional music at all levels. She has been a highly respected senior tutor at Scoil Éigse for many years, a tutor on CCE’s TTCT Teachers Course and has also contributed very significantly to the SCT exams initiative.

Siobháin Ní Chonaráin, writing in a recent issue of TREOIR magazine.

Noreen O'Sullivan, Letterard, Cashel, Connemara, Co. Galway, Ireland   F: 00353 (0)87 7422023 E: noreenosullivan5@gmail.com