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Our Guests

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Seán Gavin

Detroit, MI

       Uilleann piper and flute player, Seán Gavin, is one of the most highly regarded Irish musicians of his generation. In 2016 he became the first and only musician born outside Ireland to win the prestigious Seán Ó Riada gold medal, and his most recent recording, a collaboration with fiddler Jesse Smith, accompanist John Blake, and bodhran player Johnny “Ringo” McDonagh, was hailed by The Irish Echo as “traditional music at its best!”

      At age 12, he started work on the uilleann pipes with the late Al Purcell, former pupil of piper Leo Rowsome. Seán moved to Chicago at age 20 where he spent a decade playing and studying with the windy city’s finest musicians, particularly Sligo flute-legend Kevin Henry. Seán is now back in his native Detroit where he continues to play, teach, and promote traditional Irish music.


Michael Stribling

Tallahassee, Florida

          Hailing from sunny Tallahassee, Florida, Michael Stribling is an award winning Uilleann Piper and Irish musician. In County Cavan, Ireland he competed and won the title of “All Ireland Champion” on the Uilleann Pipes at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Michael has spent a significant part of his formative years in Ireland and England performing and studying traditional Irish music, he was mentored by the piping great, Jerry O’Sullivan. His style exhibits technical punctuation with a rhythmical drive, and is heavily influenced by the music of Uilleann piping masters, Patsy Touhey and Leo Rowsome. He regularly joins the Internationally touring Irish bands Fullset and Runa. Michael has taught at Tionóls and piping workshops in California, New York, Missouri, Connecticut, and Florida.  In 2014, Michael added the traditional Irish element for renowned country music artist Trace Adkins’ Celtic Christmas tour, performing on Uilleann pipes, flute and whistle.  When he isn’t playing music, Michael competes in Ironman triathlons across the United States.




This special guest hails from Maree, Co. Galway and was born into a great musical family. He is a tutor at many music festivals in Ireland and abroad. In 2011 he was awarded TG4 Young Musician of the Year. He has toured America as a soloist with The Irish Chamber Orchestra and has collaborated with Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, The RTE Concert and Symphony Orchestras as well as various string quartets. He has also toured Europe with Ragús and worked with Galway's Irish language theatre group - An Taibhdhearc. He has featured on a number of albums including "The Rolling Wave" - a CD of young pipers issued by Na Píobairí Uilleann, "Tunes in the Church" and "Rogha Raelach" issued by Raelach Records. He has also performed at The Masters of Tradition festival held in Bantry House and curated by Martin Hayes. 

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David Quinn

New York

          David M. Quinn began making uilleann pipes in 1975, and worked on his own until 1988. He spent ten years in Taiwan, returning in 1998 to form a pipemaking partnership with Benedict Koehler. He is one of a small
number of makers who have worked in the style of the Taylor brothers(makers of the pipes played by P. J. Touhey) and has written extensively on the techniques and peculiarities of that style of instrument. He is the author of /The Piper’s Despair/, a manual of reed making, and served for several years as technical editor of the Seattle Pipers’ Club newsletter.


          He works now in Waterloo, New York, where he lives with his wife Lynne and their seven talented cats.


Nick Whitmer

Ithaca, New York

       Nick Whitmer, a retired librarian, has been playing uilleann pipes for nearly forty years.  The history of the instrument and its players has been of continuing interest.  He was fortunate to acquire a classic set by the Taylor brothers in 2013.  Inspired by this, he began compiling information about Irish pipers and pipemakers in North America.  One result of this work is the website Lives of the Pipers (, with short biographies of more than 60 pipers active before 1950, and an inventory of pipemakers active in the United States from the same time period.  His researches have uncovered information long forgotten, debunked a few false claims, and given a sense of the variety and possibilities of lives lived in association with this instrument.


       Whitmer made pipes for many years.  He lives in Ithaca, New York.

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Richie Piggott

Chicago, Illinois

          Richie Piggott is originally from Cobh, Co. Cork. He has a technical background in Enzymology and
Molecular Biology and is now working in the Food Industry in the US, based in Chicago, for over 20 years. He comes from a very musical family and, although not a musician himself, he has always been interested in Irish traditional music and musicians and has built a large personal library of books and early manuscripts on the subject. Over the past 10 years his research has focused on the Irish traditional musicians in Chicago from 1920-2020 and he is about to publish a book on this subject.


Barry O'Neill

Los Angeles, California

       Barry was born in Toronto, Canada. His interest in the pipes, besides playing them, includes their early history and their history in North America. He's been especially interested in Patsy Touhey, his life and music, as representative of what might be a distinctively American style. Barry also studies the musical acoustics of the pipes. In 1973 he wrote the prefaces to the first reissues of Francis O’Neill’s two biographical books on Irish music. Barry now teaches political science at University of California, Los Angeles. His research is on the mathematical theory of games, applied to the resolution of conflict. He has also taught at York University in Toronto, at Northwestern, and at Yale. His book, Honor, Symbols, and War, won the prize for the year’s best book in political science from the American Political Science Association.





Joey Abarta

Boston, MA

       Currently based in Boston, Joey divides his attention between performance, teaching, and recording. In addition to performing solo, he performs with his wife, old-style step dancer Jaclyn O'Riley, Nathan Gourley, and has toured with Mick Moloney and the group The Green Fields of America. While at home, he organizes the meetings of the Boston Pipers Club, teaches privately, and plays in the area. 

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