Son of the celebrated fiddler Gerry O’Connor (Skylark, Kinvara) and renowned singer Eithne Ní Uallacháin (Lá Lugh), Dónal O’Connor has inherited a great musical legacy of at least five generations of fiddle playing. Highly regarded as a fiddle player, he was asked, at the tender age of twenty one, to take part in the prestigious ‘Music Network Tour of Ireland’ alongside Scottish Guitarist Tony McManus, Fermanagh purveyor of song Gabriel McArdle and Belfast Piper John McSherry (Lúnasa, Coolfin, Tamalin).
Dónal’s playing was described recently by The Irish Times as “immaculate”, “electrifying” and “…borne out of naked talent and consummate professionalism…”, and by The Scotsman as “exquisite”. He has toured Europe and the USA extensively from a young age as both a lead and backing instrumentalist with a number of bands including Lá Lugh.
Currently living in Belfast, Dónal is part of an extremely vibrant music scene and is regarded as “one of the outstanding players of his generation” by J.B. Vallely. Recent collaborations include tours with Lúnasa, Guidewires, Buille and Cathal McConnell, television performances with The West Ocean String Quartet and the legendary Sligo Flute player Séamus Tansey, recording with Brian Kennedy and Moya Brennan of Clannad and festival appearances with Liam Ó Maonlaí and the Steve Cooney Big Band.
Despite a hectic touring schedule, Dónal found time to produce Gerry O’Connor’s long awaited solo album ‘Journeyman’, which was released in the Autumn of 2004 to great critical acclaim.
Dónal has also presented a number of music programmes on BBC Radio Ulster and was the presenter of BBC Northern Ireland’s excellent 10-part music series ‘An Stuif Ceart’. Described as a rare musical treat, the series incorporated an eclectic mix of talent with such luminaries as John Prine and Henry McCullough alongside the cream of Irish talent. More recently Dónal recorded ‘Tripswitch’ with John McSherry. Described as ‘Acoustic Perfection’ by Living Tradition and ‘Medicine for the soul’ by The Irish Music Magazine, Folk Roots said “There’s probably not been such an innovative album released on the green island since Lúnasa’s The Merry Sisters of Fate and Tripswitch probably shatters more boundaries.”
Currently a member of the much acclaimed At First Light, Dónal collaborated with John McSherry and the legendary American slide guitarist Bob Brozman, to release ‘Six Days in Down’ in October 2010. Influential BBC broadcaster DJ Ritu, has described the album as: “One of the most impressive CDs to fly through my letter-box this year”, while Ian Kearney of fRoots Magazine has deemed the album “a joyous fusion whilst”, Siobhan Long of The Irish Times giving the album a four-star rating, heralding it as a “Strapping collection of tunes”.
Having set up his own studio, Seachrán Studios, recently, he is much in demand as an engineer and producer and has recently recorded John McSherry’s album ‘Soma’, Gráinne Holland’s ‘Teanga na nGael’, At First Light’s ‘Idir’, Stevie Dunne’s ‘About Time’ and Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin’s ‘LET THE FAIRIES IN’, amongst others.
“rhythmic, trance-inducing fiddle work” – popmatters.com
“O’Connor’s bowing is beautifully economical, a pleasure to watch as well as to listen to,” – Journal of Music