Damien Connolly grew up in a family steeped in music. His grandparents, Michael Connolly (flute) and Lena Connolly (melodeon) created for themselves one of the liveliest houses for Irish music you could find in Co. Clare. Great musicians would come from far and wide to play in their old house, and of course it was into this music saturated homestead that Martin Connolly (Damien's father) was born. By the time Martin arrived, his elder brother Seamus had already been gaining a reputation as a very promising fiddler, to say the least. Martin began teaching himself the melodeon and soon followed along the same lines as Seamus, rapidly becoming a leading box player in Ireland.
Damien's mother, Klaire Fitzgerald, is the daughter of the well known musician Dick Fitzgeraldlegendary not only for his abilities on virtually any instrument, but also for his being one of the few people in Ireland who could actually play the ivy leaf! Klaire passed her tunes on to Damien and his brother Karl in the kitchen, lilting out the notes of the tunes as they struggled along.
Damien began learning the accordion when he was 11 years old, taught of course by his father Martin, and was coached here and there by his elder brother Karl, who had begun before him. At age 13 his family moved to the town of Ennis, Co. Clare where he came in touch with many people his own age who played music. He competed in the Fleadhanna with his friends in the groupai cheol and ceili band competitions, with a group under the direction of the Deirdre O' Brien Vaughan. At age 16, he took up the fiddle, under the tutelage of his step-mother Maureen Glynn. In 1997, Damien took first place in both the Under-18 All Ireland accordion and melodeon competition held in Ballina, Co. Mayo. The following year, Damien recorded three melodeon tracks on his father's CD entitled Back to Brooklyn. In 2000, he recorded his first accordion and melodeon CD, Tippin Away, accompanied by guitarist Pete Mancuso of NY. This CD was generously praised by Joe Burke, Joe Derrane and Bobby Gardiner.
In 2003 Damien moved to the US and now resides in Fairfield, CT with his wife Sally and their two sons Colman and Tiernan and daughter Clara. Being far away from home, Damien enjoys the company and musicianship of his uncle Seamus, who has long since been living in America. In Connecticut, he gigs periodically at Anna Liffey's Pub in New Haven as well as at the Playwright Pub in Hamden.
In 2005 Damien was asked to teach at the Catskills Irish Arts Week in East Durham and has been teaching there every year since. At the same festival the following year, he met Roxanne O'Connell, professor of visual communication at Roger Williams University, who encouraged him to write an accordion tutor. This tutorThe Irish Accordion Tutorwas completed in the summer of 2008. It is a tutor like none other. Some of its most important features are:
o Manual And DVD With Close-Up Recordings
o Detailed Fingering For Each Tune-Even Recommended Grace Notes!
o Greater Freedom Of Expression While Playing
o Clear and Detailed Explanations
o Grace Notes, Triplets and Rolls Put In Plain Words
o Each tune Written Both Ways-Staff and Box Tab (ABC)
o Color Coding Bellows Direction For Faster Learning
o Basses Made Easy-Written Out For 6 Tunes
o Perfect The Tunes You Already Know
Since 2006, (besides writing the tutor!) he has been running a monthly Intermediate Session in Farifield CT. Damien also teaches private accordion and fiddle lessons from home, and works full time as a Religious Studies teacher at Lauralton Hall, an all girls Catholic High School in Milford CT.