Paul De Grae Artist Profile

Paul de Grae was born in Dublin in 1953, and has lived in Kerry since 1980. Classically trained on piano from an early age, his first influences on guitar were English instrumental pop band The Shadows and blues singer Leadbelly. As a teenager he played and sang in various obscure bands on the Irish folk-club scene, later moving to London and becoming more influenced by the likes of Richard Thompson, Ry Cooder and Joni Mitchell. On moving to Kerry he became immersed in the local traditional music scene and, with the encouragement of traditional musician friends, began to develop a style of guitar playing suited to that music; Tralee fiddler Máire O’Keeffe was a major influence at that time, a connection which continues. Observing the lack of a tutor, he wrote and self-published “Traditional Irish Guitar” in 1989, re-issued in 1996 by Ossian Publications with a companion CD featuring some of the tunes from the book, played on double-tracked guitar (including electric guitar). He appeared on several locally-produced albums by Kerry musicians, such as Eoin Duignan and Tom Fleming, and later in the 1990s on more mainstream releases with Jackie Daly (“Many’s a Wild Night”) and Eoghan O’Sullivan and Gerry Harrington (“The Smoky Chimney”). In the 21st century he has played on a privately-produced CD with father and son fiddlers Tom and Kerry Barrett, “Lios a’ Cheoil”, featuring the traditional music of North Kerry; “Different State”, the well-received debut album by Sliabh Luachra accordionist Paudie O’Connor; “Didn’t She Dance and Dance” with Paudie and Aoife Ní Chaoimh; and two albums with Jackie Daly & Matt Cranitch, “The Living Stream” and “Rolling On”. He has taught guitar workshops at various festivals in Ireland, France (Tocane festival) and the USA (Augusta Irish Week in West Virginia, and almost every year since 2003 at The Catskills Irish Arts Week in East Durham, New York). He contributed several articles, including most of the entry on “guitar”, to The Companion to Irish Traditional Music, edited by Fintan Vallely. He has a particular interest in the music of Sliabh Luachra, and plays regularly at sessions, concerts and festivals throughout Ireland (particularly in Kerry, Cork and Clare), and often with Jackie Daly, who has encouraged him to return to singing, after a long period concentrating on guitar only, with just the occasional serenade to the bath-time duck. He is a founder member of the North Kerry Traditional Music Archive and has collaborated on or compiled three tune collections for the Archive. He is engaged in an ongoing research project on the music collector Francis O’Neill, and has written and lectured on the subject (e.g., the chapter “O’Neill and the Americans” in “Ancestral Imprints: Histories of Irish Traditional Music and Dance”, edited by Dr. Thérèse Smith, Cork University Press, 2012). His latest project is the duo Amala, with harpist Reidun Schlesinger.


Eoin Duignan: “Coumíneol” (1992).

Jackie Daly: “Many’s a Wild Night” (1995).

Paul de Grae: “Traditional Irish Guitar” (1996).

Eoghan O’Sullivan, Gerry Harrington & Paul de Grae: “The Smoky Chimney” (1996).

Tom and Kerry Barrett: “Lios a’ Cheoil” (2002).

Paudie O’Connor: “Different State” (2005).

Frank Claudy: “The Pretty Blue Seagull” (2010).

Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly: “The Living Stream” (2010).

Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly: “Rolling On” (2014).

Aoife Ní Chaoimh & Paudie O’Connor: “Didn’t She Dance and Dance” (2014).


“Traditional Irish Guitar”: Paul de Grae (tutor book): privately published in 1989; new edition by Ossian Publications in 1996, with companion CD.

Entry on “guitar” in “The Companion to Irish Traditional Music”: ed. Fintan Vallely (Cork University Press, first edition 1999) .

Multiple entries in second edition (2011) on guitar; bouzouki; accompaniment styles; biographical sketches.

“The Butterfly” (tune history) in “Irish Music Magazine”, May 2000.

“O’Neill’s ‘Outcries'” in “An Píobaire”, Vol. 6, no. 1, February 2010.

“Drawing from the Well: A Selection of Music from the North Kerry Tradition”: Seán Abeyta, Tom Mac Uilleagóid, Graham Guerin, Paul de Grae, Ciarán Dalton (North Kerry Traditional Music Archive, 2010).

“Into the Room, I Want You: A selection of the North Kerry fiddle repertoire of Paddy O’Sullivan of Ardfert (and a couple of songs)”: compiled by Paul de Grae (North Kerry Traditional Music Archive, 2011).

“The Fingerpost: A selection of tunes from North Kerry fiddler, Tom Barrett, including original compositions.” Compiled by Kerry Barrett and Paul de Grae (North Kerry Traditional Music Archive, 2012).

“Captain O’Neill and the Americans”: chapter in “Irish Music and Dance in History”, edited by Dr. Thérèse Smith (Cork University Press, 2012).

A version of this was presented as part of Na Píobairí Uilleann’s “Notes and Narratives” series, 18 March 2011, available to NPU members at

Translation from the Irish of the text of “Ceol Rince na h-Éireann”: ed. Breandán Breathnach, Jackie Small (five volumes, 1963-1999), with additional commentary and identification of untitled tunes (ongoing: available on various websites).

Ongoing research on sources and editorial methods in Francis O’Neill’s “Music of Ireland” (1903) and “Dance Music of Ireland” (1907).