Honored May 7, 2022
Deirdre Connolly was born and raised in Queens, New York, of Irish parents. Her mother Bridget hails from Connemara in County Galway and her father Mattie is a wonderful singer and All-Ireland champion Uilleann piper from Scotstown, County Monaghan. Deirdre’s grandmother Helena, Mattie’s mom, was also a great fiddle player.
When Deirdre was five years old, her parents began her involvement in Irish culture by simultaneously sending her to study Irish step dancing with teacher Donny Golden and tin whistle lessons with the famed music instructor Maureen Glynn. Over the course of the next twelve years, Deirdre rose to championship level in both her music and her dancing. She was part of the Legend instrumental group who won the All-Ireland medal in Kilkenny in 1984. She was also part of the Joe Cooley and Mick Cronin Ceili bands.
Deirdre toured extensively for two years throughout America and the United Kingdom with Cherish the Ladies, as their lead singer. The all-female group of Irish American and Irish musicians has been performing since 1985. Deirdre also plays the flute and bodhran. Earle Hitchner of the Irish Echo once said “Deirdre Connolly is also a skilled tin whistle and flute player and a competent bodhrán player. In that sense, she is the first lead vocalist for Cherish who can contribute substantively to the dance tunes performed by the rest of the band. Such instrumental versatility from a singer is rare.” Her solo album "A Song in Turn" has received great reviews. In 2009, Deirdre and her father Mattie released their first ever recording together called "The Kylemore Pass."
When Mary Rafferty decided to move to Waterford with her family, she asked Deirdre to take over her tin whistle and flute classes at the Woodlawn House of Irish Music. Together, with Michelle Bergin, Mary Coogan & John Redmond, Deirdre nurtured local children and instilled a love for the music in them. At one point, Deirdre had 44 students in Woodlawn – all while nursing full time. Molly O’Riordan, one of Deirdre’s singing students, went on to be the 1st American to ever win the U18 Ladies English singing competition at the Fleadh Ceol na héireann.
Deirdre holds a BA from Fordham University and is currently living and working as a Registered Nurse in Long Island. Deirdre is now passing the tradition on to her daughter Gabby, who is also taking Irish dancing lessons from Donny Golden and learning the concertina and piano at the Woodlawn House of Music, under Michelle Bergin and John Redmond.