The concertina is one of those warm rich sounding instruments that proves very popular in Irish music and today it gives me great pleasure to feature none other than Noel Hill an extremely talented concertina player from Caherae in west Clare. Noel’s family were concertina players but Noel wanted to take up the uileann pipes, however the pipes were not so readily available and at the age of nine Noel took up the concertina which had been bought for his brother originally. Because Noel wanted to play the pipes his concertina playing is influenced by musicians such as Willie Clancy, Paddy Canny and Paddy Murphy, but Hill was mainly influenced by his uncle Paddy Hill. Noel came from a family who were the last to hold the traditional Irish House Dance where musicians from all over were welcomed. The Hill house was the last in the area to hold these dances and it was at these events that Hill learned most of his tunes rather than learning them on the radio. In the 1970s Noel began playing the concertina professionally. Joining musicians Tony Linnane, Tony Callanan and Kieran Hanrahan forming the group Inchiquin who have one album released. With Kieran and Tony Callanan leaving to form the group Stockton’s Wing Inchiquin continued to tour with Noel.
Noel’s most celebrated album was released in 1979 with Tony Linnane, Matt Malloy, Alec Finn, Michael O’Domhnaill entitled Noel Hill and Tony Linnane.
He even had a tune written for him by The Pogues called Planxty Noel Hill.
As well as playing and touring Noel also set up a number of concertina schools around the country The Noel Hill Concertina Schools which he teaches at. He has influenced many other musicians who are concertina players in Irish traditional music.
If you are a fan of the concertina and are interested in hearing this fine concertinist play then you are in luck. If you are around Ennis at Fleadh Cheoil tonight then Noel will be playing a few tunes on stage at the Glor theatre at 8pm. See here for details.
You can find music from Noel on iTunes