ALAN KELLY Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


Biography » theater opera and movie personalities » alan kelly


Born in Co. Roscommon in 1972, Alan grew up in a house steeped in traditional music and dance. His grandfather was a fiddler; his grandmother, a melodeon player; his father, Frank Kelly, a piano accordionist from Fourmilehouse in southern Roscommon who won the All-Ireland senior title in 1964; and his mother, Mary (nee Ryan) Kelly, an adept pianist and saxophonist.


From the late 1950s to the early 1960s, Frank and Mary Kelly were members of the Killina Ceili Band, a gifted ensemble also featuring fiddler Paddy Ryan, a first cousin of Mary and a music instructor to both Alan and brother John, one of Ireland’s leading flautists and whistle players.


Although surrounded by flute players, Alan chose to follow in his fathers’ footsteps and learn the piano accordion. Very soon, Alan had forged his own inimitable style influenced mainly by his father Frank and local musicians such as Paddy Ryan, John Carlos, Patsy Hanly and Frank Jordan.


In his early music years, Alan went on to win All-Ireland titles on piano accordion and piano, and also with brother John in duets and neighbour and life long friend John Wynne in trio’s.


Determined to become a full time musician Alan moved to Galway in 1993 where he quickly became part of the thriving traditional music scene, forging an excellent reputation for himself.


In 1994 he landed a part in the Druid Theatre’s award winning production of Vincent Woods’ ‘At the black pigs Dyke’ and spent the next 12 months performing in Dublin, Galway, Glasgow, Toronto and Sydney. He also toured with Druid’s and Vincent Woods production of ‘The Yellow Bittern’ in 1995.


Back in Galway, Alan decided to concentrate on his debut solo album and in 1997 he released ‘Out of the Blue’ (BBM 001) on his own label Blackbox Music. Co-produced by Alan and Steve Cooney and featuring a host of Ireland’s top musicians, the album received estatic reviews from the critics, earned him a ‘Best Newcomer’ award from Irish Music Magazine and launched Alan on his solo career.


Extensive touring ensued, especially in the U.S. and Canada. His live performances have become something of a special event with the Irish Times stating “his was a brilliantly talented, effortless and exuberant performance”


However, it wasn’t long before theatre beckoned again and towards the end of 1997, Alan was invited by New York’s awarding winning avant-garde theatre company Mabou Mines to join their production of Peter and Wendy in Los Angeles and has since performed with them in New Haven (’98) San Francisco (’99) Dublin Theatre Festival in 1999 and New York 2002. Also, in 1997, he was invited to become a member of the house band for Sibin, a weekly music programme for TG4, performing with artists such as Matt Molloy, Sean Keane, Cathy Ryan, Kieran Goss, Mick Hanley, Sean Tyrell, Arty McGlynn and Nollaig Casey. More recently Alan featured in Brian Friel’s ‘Wonderful Tennessee’ at The Lyric Theatre in Belfast.


Following on the success of ‘Out of the Blue’ Alan released his second solo album “Mosaic” in July 2000. Produced by guitarist Arty McGlynn, “Mosaic” features many new compositions from both Alan and Arty, as well as traditional music from Scotland, Finland and of course Ireland.