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Joe McKenna


Joe McKenna from the Liberties, in Dublin, studied the pipes in the famous Pipers Club in Thomas St, where he learned from and was influenced by the great Leo Rowsome. Other influences were Patsy Toughy, Johnny Doran and Willie Clancy. Over the years he absorbed and extended the art of piping, creating his own individual style and technique. He also designed and made his own pipes. He is now one of Ireland’s most respected pipers, an accomplished low whistle and button box player. He composes tunes and songs and the odd time sings a few.

After winning a few All Ireland titles, his professional career began in the early 70”s when he played with the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. This was followed by an international touring schedule throughout America, Canada, Europe and Australia.

Joe was most known early as the harp and pipe duo, playing with his now deceased wife Antoinette McKenna. They recorded their first LP in the early days of Shanachie Records then later were joined by Antoinette’s sister Mary Bergin, then being part of other groups such as Slua Nua, De Dannan and Anne Wylie Band in Germany. His recordings are well known and his interest in composition led to receiving IMRO”s “ New Irish Music Composer of the Year Award” in 1993. This was followed by being closely involved in pioneering projects in schools and community care, aided by the Arts Council and with Music Network.

Another side of Joe is his involvement in managing the Shanachie Record Label in Ireland for ten years beginning in 1996, multitasking as concert promoter coordinating and assisting touring artists and promoting their new releases. Today he continues his workshops and performing including the recently formed group, Mountain House.

Finally, from the creative piping standpoint and in many other ways he would say that his piping was most influenced by the unique backing style on the harp of his wife Antoinette, being a harp and piping duo for over forty years.