B i o g r a p h y
Dearbhail (pronounced Derval) descends from what can best be described as Irish Music Royalty. She was brought up in a family immersed in traditional music, near the village of Nobber, Co. Meath, Ireland.
Her late father was President of the Irish Traditional Music Organization - Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann and her grandfather was a celebrated traditional Irish fiddle player. Dearbhail followed the family path in music by dancing at age 3, picking up the fiddle, tin whistle and accordion at age 5 and becoming passionate about her craft with the Irish harp at age 13.
Her studies began with the Irish harp society ‘Cairde na Cruite’ on a weeklong course under the tutelage of Mercedes Bolger/McGrath. Dearbhail proceeded to study with Aibhlin McCrann, who gave her the great love she has for the history and music of the Irish harp, she continuously challenged herself in live performances and soon won both regional and All-Ireland Irish harp competitions. Her proficiency and skill on the Irish harp lead to invitations to play worldwide at Celtic festivals.
In 1995 Dearbhail graduated from the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin, Ireland with a degree in music and began her professional career. Graduation gave Dearbhail the opportunity to pursue writing, arranging and live performance in earnest. Her passion for the Irish harp soon placed her in the circle of the world’s elite Irish harp players. Dearbhail continued to advance her music studies as well and earned the (TTCT) Teaching Diploma for Irish Harp. Dearbhail’s passion for music, compelling stage performance and endearing personality has made her a premier talent with the incredibly complex and challenging Irish harp
Recording & Publishing Highlights
Dearbhail has released five recordings:
1999: Strings Alive, 2001: Christmas with the Irish Harp, 2004: Off the Beaten Track, 2008: The Butterfly and 2013: Enchanted 2015: Soft Whispers
In 2011 RTÉ lyric fm, in association with Cairde na Cruite produced a recording entitled Masters of the Irish Harp, celebrating the virtuosity of sixteen of Ireland's leading harpers of which Dearbhail was delighted to be one of chosen few.
Dearbhail contributed arrangements to Harpers' Choice, 100 Traditional Tunes for the Irish Harp, published by Cairde na Cruite.
Her own publications include The Butterfly an ensemble arrangement for three harps and Traditional Irish Harp Arrangements Volume 1& 2. many of these arrangements feature on the harp syllabus of The Royal Irish Academy of Music.
She is currently working on a Carolan Collection due to be published in Summer 2019.
Dearbhail continues to teach, write, arrange and perform Irish music worldwide while still calling Ireland home.
As a teacher, Dearbhail enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion by conducting workshops and master classes in Europe, across the United States and at the major summer schools in Ireland including An Chúirt Chruitireachta, Scoil Eigse and Carolan Harp Festivals.
Dearbhail's music was featured in the animated movie Nim's Winter Tale by Ola Schubert and was nominated as a finalist in the Best Original Sound category at the Flash Forward Conference 2006 in Seattle.
In 2013 Dearbhail led the Meath Harp Ensemble in a world premiere of 'The Chronicles of Meath', a new work composed by Vincent Kennedy - a composition for harp ensemble in seven movements, of which one movement performed by Dearbhail on concert harp demanded virtuosic playing.
In 2014 was made a Distinguished Honorary Member of Sigma Alpha Iota. The honor was in recognition of international distinction in the music profession.
In 2016, Dearbhail was among the elite group of harpists who are at the top of their feed, to take part in AVOCA: A Celtic Journey, composed by Phillip Martin and conducted by World renowned David Brophy.
Over the years Dearbhail has had the opportunity to collaborate with some wonderful artists including The Chieftans on their Grammy Award winning album ' The Celtic Harp: A Tribute To Edward Bunting' as a member of the Belfast Harp Orchestra, The Irish National Harp Ensemble, Flores de Praga Orchestra, Michael Londra and Cordaí . In 1998 Dearbhail appeared in Silver Dollar City, Branson, Missouri, a festival in which she was invited to return no less than18 years running only taking tile out to perform at Dollywood in Tennessee .
Dearbhail has also shared her heritage and music across the midwest USA presenting the Irish Kaleidoscope, (an Irish educational program).
Solo performances include performing for President Bill Clinton in the Whitehouse, Washington D.C. during the 50th anniversary of NATO, seniorities at The House of Commons, London, past presidents of Ireland Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese, Irish Embassies worldwide and recently for President Barrack Obama.
Today, Dearbhail is an accomplished teacher, performer and director.