Dónal Murphy was born in Birmingham, England, and moved with his family to Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick, Ireland, in 1975. He started playing music at age eight, starting first on the tin whistle. He soon realised he was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps, and took up the button accordion.
He has always felt a deep grá for the music and style of the locality in which he lives, and has kept his ‘musical ear’ firmly tuned to the two primary influences on his life of music – his chosen instrument, the accordion, and the musical heritage of ‘Sliabh Luachra’. Dónal is one of the foremost and most dazzling exponents of the great style of music from this region.
In August 1990, together with Cathal Hayden (fiddle), Brian McGrath (banjo), Gino Lupari (Bodhran) & Mick Daly (guitar/vocals), they formed the now renowned ‘Four Men & a Dog’. Their debut album, ‘Barking Mad’, which was released in 1990, was voted Best Folk Album of the year in Hot Press Magazine. Donal took a break from touring with the band in 1993.
He remained very much involved in music locally, and soon teamed up with Matt Cranitch (fiddle) and Tommy O’ Sullivan (guitarist/vocalist). The trio gelled, and a new entity was born. They recorded ‘Sliabh Notes’ in 1995, and soon the album title became the band name. A defining feature of this band is their powerful playing of polkas and slides, a thing deeply rooted in musicians from southwest of Ireland. Sliabh Notes have played most of the biggest Irish festivals in the world, namely Milwaukee, North Texas Irish Festival, Copenhagen, Torino Italy, as well as many more around Ireland. The band went on to record two more albums; ‘Gleanntán (1999) and ‘Along Blackwaters Banks’(2002).
One of the highlights of Dónal’s musical career came in the summer of 1998 when Michael Flatley invited him to play in the Premiere of “Feet of Flames” in Hyde Park, London.
Dónal kept in touch with his friends from ‘Four Men and a Dog’, now with a new line up of Gerry O’Connor (banjo/fiddle), Kevin Doherty (guitar/vocals), Cathal Hayden (fiddle/banjo) and Gino Lupari (bodhran/ vocals) and eventually through massive public demand, a new album was in the pipeline. In March 2003, the lads were back in the studio recording a new album, ‘Maybe Tonight’. Following the release of this album, the band toured Ireland and many of the major festivals in Europe and Canada, gaining massive interest on their quest to play music in every corner of the globe! Four Men and a dog released their sixth Album ‘Wallop The Spot’ in Nov 2007 to massive public interest.
Dónal released the long awaited debut Solo Album ‘Happy Hour’ in April 2009. He performs regularly with new three piece Steve Cooney (guitars) & Gino Lupari (bodhrán/vocals).
Dónal has rightly established himself as one of the foremost and exciting accordion players of this generation. His knowledge and experience of Irish traditional music is something that is special, and you are never to be disappointed when this guy is in full flight!