News and reviews

"Lake of Learning" 4 Star Rating* * * * “a passionate performance from Tim on lead vocals…”
The Stillwater Times UK Folk Magazine David Jones

“Tim dived deep in to the “Lake of Learning” and successfully returned. Excellent song selection...”
Folkworld .de Internet Magazine Germany

“.. a feisty unit…the playing is sprightly and enjoyable.” Feartha Famine” paints a compelling portrait….and stands proudly at the centre of the CD….”
Net Rhythms .com internet review (UK) David Kidman

“Tim demonstrates excellent versatile musical ability….. It will particularly appeal to those who love good Irish music played well with passion and fervour….”
Folk North West Magazine (UK) Lewis Jones

“.. It’s a very genuine kind of recording… Tim has a nice clear kind of voice very melodic….”
Irish Dancing and Culture International Magazine (UK) Donal Lynch

“.. the vocals are confident and assured… Tim’s own guitar composition Feartha Famine is another highlight on an impressive CD…”
Taplas Folk Magazine (Wales) Nick Passmore

“..Tim’s own guitar is a key reliable element throughout…..they are clearly a grand and proficient bunch…a slow air Feartha Famine composed by Tim and played with expertise on the guitar….(the vocal) on Lake of Learning (is) by far the most confident and effective…”
Irish Music Review -Web Site- (UK) Geoff Wallis

“Irish Folk from melancholy to vivacious”

Live Review (Ost Thuringen Zeitung) Greiz Germany

" It's real music as it should be played...real music played by real people.."

Irish Examiner Pat Ahern

"A subtle restrained and deeply musical album from subtle, restrained and musical artists"
Pay The Reckoning Aid Crossley

"The anarchic energy of Sliabh Luachra married with the fineboned sensibilities of
Clare...Jagged edged but with many a smooth surface to glide upon"

The Irish Times Siobhan Long

"...O'Shea's fine solo guitar performance...his (Tim O'Shea) cover of Ron Kavana's
Reconciliation is excellent...

Hot Press Magazine Sarah McQuaid

"...Sure, confident and true. This album is the real immediate contender for this year's
vocal/instrumental Album of the Year Award here on Live Ireland". Bill Margerson

"Simple, Authentic, Brilliant…..”
Osterland Kultur Live Gig Review Germany

HOT PRESS MAGAZINE 29th September 1999

Fair Dawning (Lackeen Records)
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SELDOM DO you encounter recordings that are both as scholarly and lovingly honed as this. More seldom do you trip across a debut as assured and considered as Fair Dawning.

Tim O'Shea is a singer and guitarist from Killarney. There's a rawness to the arrangements on Fair Dawning that bespeaks of a love of the session and a refreshing unfamiliarity with mixing desks. Whether by accident or design, O'Shea's music is laid down in its bare naked form, probably as true to its origins as it could possibly be in the confines of a studio.

The tunes here are electric, the songs rigorously trimmed to the bone. "Man of the House/The Tap Room" is a fine example of a well chosen pairing of the funereal and the loping, with plenty of air bubbles in both to allow fiddle and guitar to exchange lifelines with precision timing.

The songs, too earn their keep. At times O'Shea's vocals suggest an early Paul Brady, particularly on "Welcoming Paddy Home".His unassuming style lends a lightness of touch that tiptoes over what could otherwise have been lumbering lyrics, and with fiddle and concertina tickling at the edges, there's never a chance to loll in the doldrums or cumbersome arrangements.

Fair Dawning is a fine debut from a fine collection of musicians.

Siobhan Long 10/12

Feb 6th 2000


Fair Dawning
12 Tracks 40 minutes and 11 seconds
Lackeen Records LakCD001

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This is one of those albums that have been lying around the office for a few months, (always send in 3 copies one will eventually make it out the door to the review panel-Ed). Fair Dawning has been regularly tossed into a computer to enthuse the muse as we mine for metaphors.

Tim O'Shea is from Killarney and judging by the quality of music it's not only the local lakes that have depth and sparkle in the kingdom.

The linear notes are excellent, easy to read, imaginatively laid out, succinct and full of detail. Tune sources are credited, both from the oral tradition and printed collections. If you want the notation to the Flax in Bloom for instance Tim directs you to the version in Breathnach's Volume 4 and the revised O'Neill's, he also gives us a short list on alternative titles.

There are four songs on the album, One Starry Night (by Liam Weldon), Monday Morning (by Andy M. Stewart), Welcoming Paddy Home (by Willie McEvoy), given a tantalisingly short Carolanesque introduction. The last song on the album is Phil Colclough's Song for Ireland. Writers and copyrights are acknowledged which is how it should be (and often isn't). The singing is good if a little bit folky (in the American sense).

The tunes are the real finds here and fans of the concertina will be delighted with the opening track, The New and Old Copperplates played by Barry Magee. Tim O'Shea plays guitar and bodhr‡n and adds the vocals there are two fiddles Rob Stafford and Paddy Jones who adds his own brand of Kerry frappe a pied. The album notes humbly say this is their first attempt at recording. On the strength of their musicianship, scholarship and all round attention to detail I hope it is the first of many trips to the studio.


The Irish Examiner Pat Ahern 13/05/04
"This is a studio album only in the sense that it was recorded in a studio. I attitude, it is a relaxed session, a few tunes and the odd song in the front room. You can hear the musicians tap their feet, you can hear them breath and the clicks and squeaks of their instruments. And the music is all the better for it. Killarney's Tim O'Shea plays guitar and sings. On this outing , he's joined at various stages by Paddy Jones on fiddle, Barry Magee on concertina, Ger Culhane on accordion and Matt Bashford on uilleann pipes, whistle and clarinet. The opening slides, The Cat jumped in to the mousesí hole/Going to the well for water, with Paddy taking the lead, have the necessary rough edge. Lake of Learning, written by Tim, takes its title from a slightly crooked translation of Loch Léin, the largest of the Killarney lakes. Describing the song as a mixture of 'myth and legend' O'Shea builds a novel fantasy ranging from early Christian times to the Cromwellian Wars. Reconciliation by Ron Kavanagh, Freedom is Like Gold by Andy M. Stewart are full of good intentions but tend towards over-earnestness. Feartha Famine a self penned slow air taken on solo guitar, is a wonderfully atmospheric commemoration of the Great Hunger. The album closes with a fine version of the song Willie Taylor, segueing into a slow reel, Rolling in the Barrel. Real music played by real people".
Pay the Reckoning Aidan Crossley May 2004
" With Friends like these, who needs big-name guest musicians? O'Shea (guitars, vocals, bodhran, bones) is joined by Barry Magee (concertina), Paddy Jones (fiddle), Ger Culhane (accordion) and Matt Bashford (pipes, clarinet, low whistle) for his third album of songs and tunes that linger in the memory.

The tunes are firmly rooted in the Sliabh Luachra tradition with slides and polkas taking centre stage; even the reels and jigs have the familiar Slaibh Lauchara lift - that combination of 'busyness' and effortless languor which the best musicians of this part of the world project. When accompanying tunes, O'Shea has all the muscularity of Steve Cooney. When accompanying the songs he demonstrates a lightness of touch and a feel for the depths of his material which ensures that his material is beautifully backlit.

A cover of Ron Kavan's 'Reconciliation' brings out a whole new layer of meaning and poignancy. His own 'Lake of Learning', around which Bashford weaves snatches of 'O'Neill's March', is an odyssey through myth, legend and recorded history, centred on Loch Lein - the largest of the Lakes of Killarney.
Listen out for an absolutely cracking SLOW VERSION OF Cronin's Hornpipe by Magee. The pace allows Magee to ornament the tune subtly and masterfully and puts paid to the lie that music needs a bit of speed to capture it's pulse.

A subtle, restrained and deeply musical album from subtle, restrained and musical artists".
The Irish Times - Siobhan Long 18/3/04
The anarchic energy of Sliabh Luachra married with the fineboned sensibilities of Clare might suggest a union doomed for brevity, but Tim O'Shea plies both traditions with sufficient grace to exert a neutralising effect, so much so that one suspects a union in the future may well bear progeny in the future. One of the great pleasures of this CD is the presence of superb fiddle player Paddy Jones and piper, clarinetist and low whistle player Matt Bashford. O'Shea's magnanimity ensures a democratic mix of tunes, with Barry Magee's concertina glistening on The Humours of Lisheen jig set, and he wisely limits the songs which lumber awkwardly alongside the sprightly tunes. Jagged edged, but with many a smooth surface to glide upon.
Hot Press Magazine - Sarah McQuaid 20th May 2004
" Its' the '& friends' who provide much of the instrumental oomph on this third album by Tim O'Shea: concertina player Barry Magee, who contributes a lovely unaccompanied rendition of O'Carolan's 'Mr. O'Connor' among other solo pieces; Matt Bashford on uilleann pipes, low whistle and clarinet; Ger Culhane on accordion and fiddler Paddy Jones, one of the few remaining students of the legendary Sliabh Luachra fiddle master Padraig O'Keeffe. That said O'Shea's fine solo guitar performance on his own composition 'Feartha Famine' leaves one wishing he'd included more in that vein. The other O'Shea original is an interesting attempt at blending myth and history. His cover of Ron Kavana's 'Reconciliation' is excellent, with Bashford's doubling up on clarinets for an unusual backing".
...................................................................................... - Tim Margerson August 2004
The Lake of Learning is by Tim O'Shea, and is out on Lackeen Records. Tim and his friends are from the Sliabh Luachra area of Kerry and also of the County Clare.
We love The Lake of Learning. The album headline is " Tim O'Shea and Friends ". This is gloriously true. Tim is surrounded by some gifted musicians here, including Barry McGee on concertina, Paddy Jones on fiddle, Ger Culhane on accordion and Matt Bashford on pipes, low whistles and clarinet! Tim plays guitar beautifully, and has a wonderful, true and terrific voice. This is traditional music that makes a difference. A wonderful take on the tradition. And, yes, of course all the Sliabh Luachra and Clare swing is here, the lift, the intonation, phrasing and the soul.

There are trad song standards including one of our favorites, Willie Taylor, joined by Reconciliation ( a beautiful bit of business by Ron Kavana ), Freedom Is Like Gold from Andy Stewart and the title song, Lake of Learning by Tim himself. We really love this voice. Sure, confident and true. This album is the real deal. This would be impossible if the star, Tim, were not the deal himself. Album after album is put in front of us that tries to achieve what is easily offered here. This is an album by a singer and musicians who love and believe in what they are doing. Men about their business. The instrumentals are varied and brill. These must truly be friends and long-time fellow players with Tim, as they all blend together so naturally and beautifully. This is an immediate contender for this year's Vocal/Instrumental Album of the Year Award here on LiveIreland A wonderful voice joins with wondrously played polkas, beautiful airs, reels, slides, slow reels----what more can we ask?? This is a winner all the way 'round!! The airs are especially beautiful--one from Tim on solo guitar, one from Barry McGee on concertina. They are perfect, and really complete the album. We have written in the past that one of the most disturbing trends in the tradition is that so many new players ( and some experienced ones whom we are tempted to name, but won't ) apparently think that the tunes should be played at Mach 1 speed, all the tunes should be blisteringly fast, and we will all think, "Boy!!! Can these people play!! " Nothing could be further from the truth. This album is tastefully put together, balanced---and everything is presented at a tempo that suits trad to perfection. Music from Clare and the Sliabh Luachra is all about intonation, phrasing and the "swing"----and these all are exactly what are left behind when this music is played too swiftly. Not here. These lads know what they are doing, and what's what!
The more we listen to this album, the more and more and more we love it. Get this lovely thing by going to or get to the I'm listening to Willie Taylor as I write this. Wow!! Get this album. Really!
Tim O’Shea and Karol Lynch bring Irish Folk to Altenburg Castle
Altenburg. A perfect evening can be so easy: take two passionate musicians, who don’t need anything but their instruments, microphone and PA, and let them do their thing. This simple easiness was the recipe for Tuesday night, when Irish Folk moved into the barrel vault of Altenburg Castle. Tim O’Shea, who’s been successful in various bands since the late 80’s had joined up with a great newcomer talent, Karol Lynch. He had filled in short notice for Gavin Whelan, who had stay at home due to illness. But then this concert born out of such an emergency, surely none of the 90 guests in the sold out hall would have noticed. Tim O’Shea and Karol Lynch were in perfect harmony. Although these two Irishmen played from quite different backgrounds.

There was the experienced, seemingly settled musician O’Shea, who started gently leading the audience towards the Green Island (Ireland). Simple whistle sounds, a few minutes that’s all he needed to do. This man is real, authentic. So authentic, that he sees no problem tuning up a string on his guitar while singing a song. His way of talking to the audience doesn’t come across as put on as with so many others. And Tim O’Shea’s music is just as real in the folk tradition of his home, Ireland, but especially contemporary and deep.

The songs tell about normal things in life, of love and pain things will be and those gone by longing for freedom. Poetical lyrics, and many images. And when O’Shea sings with his unique voice, heebee- jeebees and goose pimples are called for.

His partner Karol Lynch is the perfect contrast, the young wild one! Who spices up O’Shea’s pieces but also takes one’s breath away with his solo tunes. Lynch is a gifted banjo player, who demands everything from his instrument and impresses with crazy speed. He also accomplishes the walk between tradition and originality without any problems. O’Shea and Lynch urgently or solo are urgently recommended.

Claudia Walther reporting.
“Irish Folk from melancholy to vivacious”
When Tim O’Shea and Karol Lynch play music, you’ll find soul in every title.

With the ease of the genius, Tim O’Shea and Karol Lynch formed their musical landscape. The two Irishmen visited the Greiz “Café Lebensart” last Wednesday. They gave their listeners in the nearly sold out venue excellent Irish Folk to feel, dream and enthuse. O’Shea and Lynch showed again that there is no need to fight technical battles or stir up pathetic style mixtures in order to produce infectious music. And even with the at times overly supplied classical Irish Folk you can still capture an audience. Under the condition that you have two such talented musicians like Tim O’Shea and Karol Lynch. As instrumentalists, and here one must simply celebrate the virtuosity at the banjo of the young Karol Lynch, as well as musicians that give each title a piece of soul, the duo presented themselves absolutely impressively - from the first until, for the fun of it long after the official end of the concert and last note played.

Ballads, emotional songs carried by poetical lyrics interchanged with lively Jigs and Reels. And just like these two ends of a spectrum, so the musicians too form contrasts that need one another for perfection. There are the calm and a little spirited vocals on one side, and the young “wild” Karol Lynch playing the banjo masterfully, yet ever so pressingly on the other.

Together they pick up the roots of Irish Folk and take it like only the Irish can do to the 21st century, without robbing it of its power and expression with modern “Gimmicks”.

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