Honored June 25, 2016
Brendan is the son of legendary pianist and Comhaltas Hall of Famer, Felix Dolan, and Cavan-raised Joan Dolan. Brendan learned his music from his father while growing up in Golden’s Bridge, NY playing frequently at events with their neighbors, Eugene and Celia Clancy and their children at Irish events around Westchester County. While at college at Brown University, Brendan connected with local musicians in Providence, Rhode Island and became passionate about the music. With New York transplant, Jimmy Devine and his student Tina Lech, Brendan began playing ceilis and occasional sessions with the Providence Ceili Club. After graduation, Brendan starting playing regular ceilis with accordionist Kevin Killeen at St. Mary’s in Woodside where he was encouraged by accordion great, Jerry Lynch.
Throughout the 1990s, Brendan worked in advertising and played ceilis, sessions and concerts on the weekends, most often with accordionist, Patty Furlong and Mayo native fiddler, Fiona Doherty. Together they briefly formed an ensemble called Atlantic Bridge featuring vocalist, Karan Casey. At the same time, Brendan regularly played for dance competitions along with his father throughout the year.
During this time, Brendan learned the whistle and the flute from his father and from the great flute players, Joanie Madden and Catherine McEvoy. He got to know and play with many of the great New York musicians such as Eamon O’Leary, Patrick Ourceau and Dana Lyn playing sessions at places like Mona’s and The Scratcher.
In the late 90s, Brendan went back to school to study music at SUNY New Paltz and music education at Queens College. After teaching at St. John’s Preparatory School in Astoria and at Franklin Central School in Franklin, NY, Brendan began teaching Irish music at the Mineola Irish Center and the New York Irish Center in Long Island City. He also started teaching and coaching groups in Pearl River, NY assisting the great musicians and teachers, Rose Flanagan, Margie Mulvihill and Patty Furlong.
During this time Brendan also started playing extensively with fiddler Brian Conway at sessions and concerts. Brendan and Brian spent a lot of time together touring Ireland and America and teaching at workshops and Irish camps, culminating in the recording of the “Pride of New York” along with Joanie Madden and Billy McComiskey.
After earning a Master’s degree in Irish Studies at NYU, Brendan spent three years as the main archivist on the Mick Moloney Irish-American Music and Popular Culture Collection and as a member of NYU’s Harp and Shamrock Orchestra. He continues to perform with Mick at his annual Symphony Space concerts.
Over the years, Brendan has recorded with Patrick Ourceau, Patty Furlong, Kathy Ludlow and Mary Coogan, Billy McComiskey, Brian Conway and Mick Moloney and The Green Fields of America. He has toured extensively with Cathie Ryan, Whirligig (w/Lisa Gutkin and Greg Anderson) and Brian Conway and is a member of the Pride of New York.
Brendan has also taught at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins West Virginia, and the Irish Arts Week in East Durham, New York.
He currently teaches high school music and oversees the music program at Avenues: The World School in Manhattan, while continuing to play and teach Irish music.