"….. the music that emerged from his instrument couldn't have been more vibrant.
Its plangent, full-bodied tone was utterly intoxicating, enhanced by O’Connor’s flawless and dynamic articulation. Not a single note was thrown away; every tiny ornament, sliding grace note and subtle variation felt like an extension of the melody and the impassioned spirit behind it.
Brunswick Festival , Australia
Gerry O’Connor grew up in the town of Dundalk, County Louth in a family of musicians, dancers and singers. His mother Rose (née O’Brien) taught Gerry and his siblings the fiddle at home and she continued to teach from there for the next 40 years. Students travelling from Armagh and Dublin as well as closer to home to learn from the doyenne of fiddle teachers. His father Peter was a singer whose seven uncles all played music.
From an early age Gerry was involved Irish music and dance, winning numerous All Ireland titles between 1967 and 1973 in a range of formations including duet, trio and four Céili Band titles.
Playing with Michael Coleman’s contemporary John Joe Gardiner in the 1970’s formed Gerry's style of music, focussing on the fluid and ornamented lyrical fiddle playing of the great Sligo masters. His own background in step dancing translates into a vibrant pulsating dance music for which he is noted; today he is regarded as one of the great fiddle players of his generation.
He has played and recorded with such highly-regarded groups as Lá Lúgh (Eithne Ní Uallacháin, Sony Music) and Skylark (Len Graham, Gary O’Briain & Mairtin O’Connor), recording four CDs on the Claddagh label. Gerry has toured and recorded with members of all the legendary groups including Planxty, Bothy Band, De Dannan, Boys of the Lough and Chieftains. Lá Lugh's album “Brighid’s Kiss” was voted Album of the Year 1996 by readers of the Irish Music Magazine. His solo album “Journeyman” was counted in the top five Albums of the year 2004 by the Irish Times. This critically acclaimed solo album, co-produced with his son Dónal (Ulaid, At First Light), was heralded as a significant milestone in recording the music of the “Oriel” region of South Ulster.
His 2006 live album “In Concert” recorded with Gilles le Bigot (Barzaz, Skolvan) was a celebration of the cultural links between Ireland and Brittany. This duo has toured continually for the last 20 years. During 2006-7 Gerry recorded and toured with The Irish Baroque Orchestra under the direction of Elizabeth Wallfish, recording Ardee Dances, a piece commissioned for Irish Fiddle and Baroque Orchestra and written by Rachel Holstead. Gerry continued to perform with Wallfisch in the Wandering Fiddlers project performing at the Wigmore Hall and the Brighton Early music Festival.
“Jig Away the Donkey”, an album focusing on the Music and Song of South Ulster with Martin Quinn and Gabriel McArdle was released in 2010 and in 2010 also Gerry produced an album of Fermanagh musician Séan Nugent’s compositions. “The High Hills of Larghy”. Featuring many of Seans students , music friends and family. From 2005 -2010 he taught Traditional Music Performance at Dundalk Institute of Technology, during which time he completed a Masters by Research on Luke Donnellan’s Dance Music of Oriel. (2008) In 2011 he produced “I Have Travelled this Country” documenting 123 mostly unrecorded songs of Boys of the Lough musician Cathal McConnell.
With Nuala Kennedy, Martin Quinn and Gilles le Bigot, Gerry released the album Oirialla in Nov. 2012 at the Celtic Colours Festival in Cape Breton, Canada. This band is currently touring and in demand for festivals.
Recent re-releases of his music can be heard with Desi Wilkinson and Eithne Ní Uallacháin of the album Cosa Gan Bhróga (Gael Linn) and Senex Puer on IML. With the vocal accapella trio White Raven led by Kathleen Dineen, Gerry has recorded and performed throughout Europe at International Choral Festivals including RheinVocal and Merano. He is currently touring and has recorded 6 albums with much celebrated Irish-Canadian-based group The Irish Rovers.
In 2018 Gerry was awarded "Ceannródaí", the prestigious Bardic Award by Comhaltas for his valued contribution to the Traditional Arts. In the same year he launched his second solo album "Last Nights Joy" and published " The Rose in the Gap" Dance Music for Oriel from the Donnellan Collection.
A four times winner of The Fiddler of Oriel competition, Gerry has recently adjudicated the same competition and also the Gael Linn sponsored Siansa and RAAP /RTE sponsored Breakthrough competitions. He was co-founder and first Artistic Director of Ceol Chairlinn, an annual teaching festival in Carlingford , Co Louth. He is also the Traditional Arts coordinator at the newly established Creative-Connexions Irish/ Catalan Arts festival in Sitges
He teaches fiddle at the Willie Clancy Summer school and at master-classes throughout Europe. When at home Gerry works as a violin maker/restorer.