Billy McComiskey: Biography
Billy McComiskey, a native of Brooklyn, and the 2011 recipient of The Irish Echo’s Traditional Artist of the Year Award, has lived in Baltimore since 1980. In that time, he’s helped put Irish Traditional Music on the map in Maryland. In the mid 1970’s, Billy, along with Brendan Mulvihill, Andy O’Brien, Lou and Peggy Thompson, and Jesse and Terry Winch, helped to establish the still thriving Irish Music Scene in Washington DC. He then moved to Baltimore to marry his beautifulwife Annie and start a family. And the Music followed him. Baltimore is now considered one of the great cities in North America for Irish Traditional Music, along withNew York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. And this is largely owing to Billy and the people with whom he plays and performsin Baltimore.
Billy holds four All Ireland Championship titles, two (gold and silver medals) with Brendan Mulvihill for their superb duet playing, and two (silver and gold) for his work as a soloist. Billy won the coveted All-Ireland Championship for the Button Accordion in 1986. He is one of only two American box players to be so honored. His friend and student John Nolan is the first American to win this award; Billy is the second. Billy plays in what he loosely describes as the East Galway Style of Irish accordion music. He is a protege of the late Sean McGlynn from Tynagh, Co. Galway. To this day, Billy still plays Sean’s rare 1940’s vintage gray Paolo Soprani box.
Billy is a composer of tunes, a good few of which are played in Ireland and America alike. He’s made quite a few recordings with
some of the mightiest musicians playing Irish Music today, including two legendary CDs with Trian, whose ranks also included Liz Carroll and Daithi Sproule. Billy has played and performed all over the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, England and Scotland. And he’s taught, encouraged and influenced the young and promising players everywhere he’s been. Billy and Annie have three sons: Patrick, their eldest, who studied the tin whistle with the great Mary Bergin; and Sean and Michael, who are two of the finest young box players here in America today.