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Carmel Gunning TTCT is an Irish composer and musician, from Sligomarker, Irelandmarker. Gunning is one of Ireland's most accomplished tin whistle players who is also known for her singing and flute playing. Gunning's rich stylised form of whistle playing and tradition steams from her homeland of Geevaghmarker in South County Sligomarker, a region which produces fellow musicians such as James Morrison, Michael Coleman, Paddy Killoran and Josie McDermott and the McDonagh Brothers. This background and tradition aided Gunning's introduction to traditional Irish music which took place at an early age.

Musical Beginnings

Gunning was introduced to traditional Irish music as a child when her father, Tom Nangle, would teach her old tunes by lilting or whistling them to her.

In 1969 she sang in her first band, "Carmel and the Chrystals", and played at local dances in Keaduemarker, Geevaghmarker, Boyle and surrounding areas. Playing in the band with Gunning was her brother, Tom Nangle Jnr., Tony Mullaney, Kevin Conlon and his brother. Gunning won the All-Ireland tin whistle slow airs competition at the Fleadh Cheoil in 1976 and senior Scór title for "Music Instrument" section, which incorporates all musical instruments used in traditional Irish music including the fiddle, uileann pipes accordion and harp as well as the tin whistle.

Throughout the late 1970s and the 1980s Gunning could be regularly found with P.J. Hernon, Mick Shannon, Joe O'Dowd and others at the famous sessions which took place at the Trades Club in Sligo Townmarker.

Musical Style

Gunning is noted for her fast-paced tin whistle style common of fiddle, flute and tin whistle player of the "South Sligo" tradition or style. Gunning's reputation in the wider world was expanded by the release of her first solo recording, The Lakes of Sligo, which features four unaccompanied songs as well as 14 tracks of virtuosic tin whistle playing..

One reviewer noted that "the music she plays is in a matured and confident manner" and singing is "rich voiced". and that "it was quite common for musicians to attempt to play tunes beyond their style and capabilities, not so with Carmel, who, although a master, still plays within a comfortable range with music that suits her style and personality. This talented lady is an accomplished singer and composer, as well as a dynamic musician". .

Another reviewer of her music noted that "no modern tin whistler can escape comparison to Mary Bergin, and Carmel's playing does indeed remind some of the Dublin-born star. If anything, however, Gunning plays reels with a more insistent headlong drive. Her ornamentation is also more diverse, featuring many tongued triplets in imitation of the bowed embellishments popular among Sligo fiddlers".

Teaching and instructing

Gunning is the tin whistle and flute instructor for the MA and BA music students at the University of Limerickmarker as well as frequently teaching at annual Scoil Éigse school organised by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in the week leading up to the Fleadh Cheoil Na hÉireann championships, where she passes on her music, songs, singing techniques and her love for those songs to hundreds of young singers.

Gunning has played Irish music around the world playing concerts from Norwaymarker to Australia and from America to Japanmarker. In 2006, Gunning lead the St. Patrick's Day parade and played a number of concert in Perth, Australiamarker and in March 2007 she undertook a tour of Massachusettsmarker, USAmarker where she played a various venues giving masterclasses to experienced student and playing contcerts.

Queen Maeve International Summer School

In addition, Carmel is the organiser and director of music the Queen Maeve International Summer School, a Traditional Irish Music summer school of music and dance which is held annually in August at the Institute of Technologymarker in Sligo Townmarker. Gunning founded the festival in the 1990s and it attracts pupils from across Ireland, Britainmarker, Europe and the United Statesmarker.

She has also worked hard to pass on the Sligo musical tradition to younger players and recently celebrated her 25th anniversary as a music teacher. Alumni of her Queen Maeve School of Music include flute and whistle masters Liam Kelly of the group Dervish, Damian Stenson from Teada, Olivia McTiernan and June Ní Chormaic(McCormack).



  • The Lakes of Sligo (1995)
  • Around St.James's Well (1995)
  • Carmel Sings Country (2002)
  • The Sligo Maid (2004)
  • Lament For The Birds Jack Harte Featured Appearance (2005)
  • The Sound of Coleman Country Various Artists Featured Appearance (2006)

Albums and Tracklists

The Lakes of Sligo
  • Accompanied by Altan guitar player Mark Kelly and Robbie Walsh on bodhran
  • Released 1990
  • Track list:
    • 1. The Pidgeon on the Gate, The Devils of Dublin 2:14
    • 2. The Castleblayney Piper, The Road to Maugheraboy 2:05
    • 3. McDermotts Reel, The Old Maid 2:13
    • 4. Siuil a Riuin 3:01
    • 5. O'Carolans Concerto 3:09
    • 6. The Swallows Nest, The Geevagh Jig 2:23
    • 7. The Lakes of Sligo 3:00
    • 8. The Sweeps 2:21
    • 9. The Dublin Reel, Title Unknown 2:05
    • 10. The Fiddler of Dooney,The Connaught Man's Rambles 2:02
    • 11. The Name Unknown 2:11
    • 12. The Lady's Earring, Ailbhe Kate 2:16
    • 13. The lamb's on the Green Hills 5:02
    • 14. The Sligo Maid, The Boys of Ballisodare 1:55
    • 15. Bean Dubh aGhleanna 3:02
    • 16. Paddy Get Up, Burke's Jig 2:05
    • 17. The Grave of Wolfe Tone 4:33
    • 18. Tom Ward's Downfall, The House of Hamill 1:58
Around St.James's Well
  • Released 1995
  • Accompanied by Neil Mulligan (uilleann pipes), Vincent Harrison (fiddle), Mark Kelly (guitar) and Eric Doyle and Ronald Flanagan on bodhran.
  • Track list:
    • 1. Reels: Caher Rua / The Bucks of Oranmore
    • 2. Jigs: Name Unknown / The Lads on the Mountain / Bride's Favourite
    • 3. Reels: Quinn's / Devanney's Goat / The All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in Sligo
    • 4. Song: Around St. James' Well
    • 5. Bardance: The Curlew Hills
    • 6. Air: Lament for Fred Finn
    • 7. Hornpipes: Carmel Gunning's / Callaghan's
    • 8. Song: There's a Path across the Ocean
    • 9. Reels: Charlie Lennon's / Mason's Apron
    • 10. Jigs: Fintan's Favourite / Tatter Jack Walsh
    • 11. Reels: Paddy O'Brien's / That the Velvet
    • 12. Song: Lament for Laurence McDonagh
    • 13. Reels: Willie Coleman's / The Star of Munster
    • 14. Air: Roisin Dubh
    • 15. Hornpipes: Dunphy's / The Fairy Hornpipe
    • 16. Songs: The Banks of the Roses
    • 17. Waltzes: Mrs. Kenny's Waltz / Aursundyals
    • 18. Reels: Sally Gardens / Sligo Dandy
Carmel Sings Country
  • Released 2002
  • Track list:
    • 1. There You Go
    • 2. You Hurt Me Once - No More
    • 3. Good Friendship Is The Best
    • 4. My Old Sligo Home
The Sligo Maid
  • Accompanied by Charlie Lennon on Piano and Junior Davey on Bodhran.
  • Released 2004
  • Track list:
    • 1. Reels: Mrs. McLeod's / Queen Maeve
    • 2. Jigs: John Paul & Leonard / The Geevagh Jig
    • 3. Reels: Fr. O'Grady's Farewell to Baca / New Year's Night
    • 4. Slip Jigs: Hardiman the Fiddler / Fig for a Kiss
    • 5. Air: Lament for Paddy Tunney
    • 6. Reels: The Master's Return / The Mossy Banks
    • 7. Flings: Were You at the Fair / Willie Clancy's Fling
    • 8. Reels: The Glencar / Cregg's Pipes / Killoran's
    • 9. Jigs: Let Us Be Drinking / Noon Day Feast / The Horse that Mada a Hames of his Winkers
    • 10. Reels: The Mayo Lassies / The Star of Munster / The Red Bee
    • 11. Hornpipes: Pretty Maggie Morrissey / Murphy's Hornpipe
    • 12. Reels: The Maid of Mt Kisco / The Foxhunter
    • 13. Reels: Dan Breen's / Martin Wynne's No. 3
    • 14. Reels: Lord Gordon / The Mason's Apron
Lament For The Birds
  • Artist Jack Harte (spoken word), featuring Carmel Gunning (music and song)
  • Released 2005

    • This CD of stories and songs, thematically structured and integrated, features the author reading some of his stories set in his native Sligo,
    • Sligo singer/musician, Carmel Gunning, singing his lyrics and playing the traditional airs to which the songs were set.
    • The focus of the compilation is the sense of a tradition in Sligo stretching back to the era of mythology.
The Sound of Coleman Country

    • Review By Geoff Wallis at
    • "This was the first, and perhaps still, in some ways, the best CD to be issued by the Coleman Heritage Centre in Gurteen, County Sligo".
    • "This extensive 20-track survey of the state of music in South Sligo is sponsored by Gurteen's Teach Murray pub"
    • "The liner notes state, the Centre's aim is to "promote the living tradition" and this CD is, in reality, an extensive tribute to the strength of the local musical heritage".
    • "tracks by singer and flute player Colm O'Donnell and his brother Séamuson flute, whistler and singer Carmel Gunning, the fiddles of Andrew Davey and Declan Folan and the presence of accordionist P.J Hernon, playing both with his son Domhnaill and the Swallows Tail Céilí Band.
    • "Flute player Peter Horan, accompanied twice each by guitarist Hazel Shannon and bodhrán player Junior Davey (son of Andrew)"


The Mountain Top
  • Issued - 2006
  • Publisher - Coleman Heritage Centre
  • Details:

    • The book was launched at The Coleman Music Centre, Gurteenmarker, County Sligomarker after a comprehensive lecture entitled A World Stage For Irish Music.
    • The lecturer was given by Labhrás Ó Murchú, Ard Stiurthoir, CCE, who also formally launched the book ‘The Mountain Top’, compiled and researched by Carmel Gunning and published by Coleman Heritage Centre.
    • ‘The Mountain Top’ contains over sixty tunes popular in South Sligo and beyond with design and setting is by Adrienne Lee..
    • ‘There is information on each tune and tunes are written with two different kinds of notation - 'staff' and alphabetic.

See also


  1. Gregan
  2. Lindsay
  3. Cullen
  4. Meade
  5. Vallely
  6. Conroy
  7. Meade
  8. Lindsay
  9. Lansdowne Luncheon - St Patrick’s Day 2006 - Events

External links

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