Niall Keegan was born in the south east of England and began playing Irish traditional flute at an early age amongst the community of first and second generation musicians in and around London.
In 1990 Niall began studying under Dr Mícheál Ó Súileabháin for a Masters degree which he completed in 1992 with the submission of a thesis entitled The Words of Traditional Flute Style. He is course director of the new Traditional Irish Music performance masters at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick and also teaches on the ethnomusicology program there. He has given occasional lectures and taught instrumental classes at the Music Dept. of University College, Cork and University College, Galway, Sibelius Academy, Dublin Institute of Technology, Newcastle University, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama among others.
Since moving to Ireland Niall has performed extensively throughout the country and abroad in a variety of contexts and venues, including the Royal Albert Hall, Barbican, Project Arts Centre in Dublin, the University of Limerick Concert Hall, The National Concert Hall in Dublin, The Waterfront Hall in Belfast and the Galway Arts Centre. In 1992 he was invited to record at the Traditional Music Archive in Dublin with the bodhran player / percussionist Mel Mercier. Niall has performed Mícheál Ó Súileabháin’s concerto for flute and chamber orchestra, Oilean on several occasions in Ireland and Britain and as part of the jazz/trad fusion group Hiberno Jazz. He is featured on both the recording of the 1994 Eigse na Laoi, Across the Water and the television series A River of Sound made by Hummingbird Productions. Niall also features on the Realworld CD The Gathering. Niall’s solo recording, Don’t Touch the Elk, was released in June 1999 on his own independent label.
Niall performed as part of the Eurovision interval piece Lumen and features on the commercial recording of that piece. Niall usually performs with Sandra Joyce, an innovative bodhran player and vocalist, and guitar players such as Chris Kelly and Clive Carroll. Other performances have included a six week tour in Britain and northern Ireland with a South Indian Katakali dance drama group, a two week tour of India, appearances at several European festivals and the North Texas Flute festival in Dallas, the second largest flute festival of its kind in the world. In December 1999 Niall performed with Sandra Joyce (vocals / bodhran) and Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin (piano) for De Tiende Nacht van Radio 3. This performance was recorded and broadcast in January 2000. Current projects include collaborative performances with saxophonist Ken Edge and the contemporary Dahdga Dance Company.
Niall is currently director of the MA Irish Traditional Music Performance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick. He keeps telling everyone that he’s nearly finished his PhD entitled The Art of Juncture: The Creative Transformations of Traditional Irish Music which examines cognitive structures that traditional musicians use to organise their oral music in a literate world. He has been on the committee of the Folk Music Society of Ireland and director of the University of Limerick based projects Nomad (aimed at honouring the music cultures of the traveling peoples at the University), Niall was formerly co-director of the Sionna Festival of European Traditional Music, and the Blas International Summer School of Traditional Irish Music and Dance, a university accredited programme. He has been guest director of the Adult Folkworks sumerschool in Durham, England. He is the author of articles concerning issues of style and literacy in traditional Irish music and editor of the online journal for Irish music and dance, Inbhear.
Niall is the course director of the BA Irish Music and Dance
Room No: IW1.17
Irish World Academy of Music and Dance
University of Limerick
e-mail : Niall.Keegan@ul.ie