Brian McDonagh - Mandola
Brian McDonagh
Brian McDonagh is an ex-founder member of traditional group Oisin, who enjoyed extensive success in the 70's. He is originally from Dublin but moved to Sligo 12 years ago after leaving Oisin. He has extensive experience touring and playing on the international circuit. He is also an established painter in Ireland and has had many exhibitions at home and on the continent.
Liam Kelly - Flute & Whistles
Liam Kelly
Liam Kelly is a native of Sligo and a founding member of the band. He began playing traditional Irish music at a very young age, born into a musical family. He started on the accordion but later switched to the whistle and in turn the flute, mainly learning from local player Carmel Gunning. He is a veteran of many competitions, where he met Shane Mitchell. This friendship lead to Poitin, a traditional group they formed while still at school

The level of success and media attention this group received was remarkable, including several TV and radio appearances and success in many competitions. Major concerts and tours were offered on the strength of their performances, but exam pressures and their young ages prevented them from capitalizing on their success.

Liam's role in the band is a central one, as Dervish's core sound revolves around the tight and intuitive interplay between Flute, Accordion and Fiddle.

Tom Morrow - Fiddle & Viola
Tom Morrow
Tom Morrow is the newest member of Dervish, joining the group in Oct. '98 and is also the youngest member band member. Tom is a native of Carrigallen in county Leitrim and is the eldest of a musical family.He began playing music at an early age with Tommy Maguire, a native of Glenfarne, Co. Leitrim. He has played extensively with a wide range of musicians around Leitrim and Cavan with including the Cornafean Group and Antoin McGabhann.

While studying in Limerick, he was part of the vibrant session scene that existed in the area. Tom then lived and worked as a software consultant in Dublin for five years. During this time he played with many groups and musicians including the Mick O Brien band and the Conor Byrne group as well as been a regular participant in regular sessions in Dublin and throughout the country.

He has won numerous awards including the All Ireland senior fiddle championship. He has toured extensively in Europe, North America and Asia.

Shane Mitchell - Accordion
Shane Mitchell
Shane Mitchell is a native of Sligo and a founder member of the band. He learned the Accordion from well-known Sligo Accordion player Alphie Joe Dineen. From a very young age Shane frequently found himself drawn to local sessions as well as competing with regular success in competitions. It was in this environment that he first met Liam Kelly and later while still in school they formed a traditional group,Poitin, The band met with great success, but school pressures and their relatively young ages kept them from capitalizing on this.

The Accordion is one of Dervish's core instruments,interacting in a tight and intuitive way with Flute and Fiddle. Shane plays a Briggs Accordion from Doug Briggs in England.

Cathy Jordan - Vocals, Bohdrán & Bones
Cathy Jordan
Cathy Jordan is a native of Scramogue, Country Roscommon now living in Sligo. Her love for traditional singing was instilled at an early age especially by her father. Cathy began singing publicly at all kind of Feiseanna and concerts as a child. In later years she took to performing a wide range of material as a solo performer in the midlands. In the summer of 1990 Cathy met informally with Dervish and was shortly afterwards asked to join the band.

Her performances with Dervish have thrilled audiences and sparked off attention right across the board. It is no exaggeration to say that Cathy is regarded as one of the finest traditional singers in Ireland today.

Michael Holmes - Bouzouki
Michael Holmes
Michael Holmes is a native of Sligo town. His grand aunt Cissy Boyd was a proficient singer, tin whistle and accordion player. Michael's sister Anne inherited their grand Aunt's musical talents and became a successful musician in her own right firstly in Ireland, then later in the USA. Anne taught Michael his first chords on the guitar and through her own playing got him interested in Folk music. Anne emigrated to the states when Michael was 16 and from her he inherited an old guitar which he used to continue teaching himself.

While attending Summerhill College he met and became friends with Shane Mitchell and Liam Kelly. At this stage Michael had been involved with a few amateur bands and had begun playing folk music in a couple of local pubs including the legendary Shoot the Crows. He and the other two future founding members of Dervish began playing together primarily for fun.

As they began to evolve together musically the three decided to put together a band playing original songs and tunes, but avoiding the cliched use of traditional instruments normally employed to insert snippets of jigs and reels into overtly modern music Instead they tried to utilise the flute and accordion to play pieces which were possible on the instruments yet didn't try to sound Celtic or particularly Irish.

They added a guitarist and drummer to the line-up before finally getting singer songwriter Yvonne Cunningham to front the band under the charming name of "Who Says What." The line-up worked quite well and Michael wrote and co-wrote several of the songs along with Yvonne, while Liam and Shane found new ways of playing their instruments which would not have been obvious within the settings of traditional music.

Eventually the band members went their separate ways after a productive and relatively successful three years. Michael moved to London to find work and was joined a year later by Liam and Shane. While living and working in a different country the boys strove to stay in touch with traditional music and because of this Michael and Liam wrote several pieces of music together -- two of which are still played frequently by Dervish -- "The World's End" and "The Hungry Rock." They continued to search out Irish sessions and musicians and to experiment with writing original Irish tunes. It was during this time in England that Michael bought his first bouzouki from the well-known music dealer, John Alvey Turner.

His first approach to the instrument was to translate chords from both the standard and DADGAD guitar tunings. After finding the basic root structures for various keys it was a matter of playing along to tunes and exploring the different options the bouzouki offered compared to the guitar.

A couple of years later while home on holidays in Sligo a local entrepreneur approached Shane Mitchell to organise some musicians to make a recording of Sligo music. The assembled group comprised Shane Mitchell, Liam Kelly, Michael Holmes, Brian McDonagh and fiddle player Martin McGinley. The resulting album was titled "The Boys of Sligo" and the members chose the name "Dervish."

The recording enjoyed great success despite the fact that there was no band to tour in support of it. The requests for the group from festivals and media programmes inspired the members to consider seriously forming together as a working traditional band. After weighing up the pros and cons Michael and Liam who were both still working in London at this stage chose to commit themselves fully to the project and moved back to Sligo in 1989. And so the story goes...

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Charlotte Folk Society Gatherings are made possible, in part, with funding from the Arts & Science Council and the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources, and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.