Irish Singer, Songwriter, and Teacher

Mary Mc Laughlin is a singer / songwriter / teacher who is steeped in the Ulster Gaelic song tradition of her native Ireland where she was born and raised.

Mary records, performs and teaches workshops in Gaelic song and culture. She specialises in The Keen (Irish Funeral Lament) and Fairy Song. Being a songwriter herself, Mary is very conscious that behind every song there is a story, so is passionate about the depth of Irish traditional song. She has toured extensively throughout North America, teaching and performing at Celtic / Irish camps.
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Mary lived for many years in London and performed on the English Folk Scene, singing and playing guitar and keyboards with various groups including Anonyma (a duo with singer-songwriter Anne Lister), with whom she still periodically works, having guested on Anne's 'Astrolabe' album (2019); multi- instrumentalist Steafán Hannigan and the Martin Simpson Band.

In 1997 Mary moved to California, during which time she toured extensively throughout the USA with various ensembles and bands (including Martin Simpson’s U.S. band, and Celtic guitarists Robin Bullock and William Coulter). She has also performed with Bay Area musicians Neal Hellman, Danny Carnahan, Libby Mc Laren and Robin Flower, harper Steve Coulter and guitarist Bruce Abrams.

Choral Work
Mary is known for her ability to arrange traditional Irish material chorally. In 2007 she founded a sacred Gaelic Choir Mary Mc Laughlin’s Cór Ainglí in Santa Cruz, N. California. For seven years Mary soloed with the 20+ piece choir conducted by Kathleen Loveless and accompanied by a band of Celtic musicans.
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Through 2011 she performed along with a small chorus in a theatrical/dance production, Selkie Tides, based on the Scottish Selkie legends, conceived and directed by Sharon Took-Zozaya. 2012 saw the release of another album "Sacred Days, Mythic Ways" which melded Mary's joint love of early Christian Gregorian Chant and pre-Christian songs about the Celtic Otherworld - rooted in the past but placed in the contemporary world.
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(from l-r: Eileen Mihm, Jenny Seigmund, Mary, Kathy Hopkins, Audrey Nickel, Katie Loveless, Laura Schanzar, Laura Reeve) Not shown in photo: Janet Herman, Sadie Reeve

Teaching and Learning
Mary initially completed a BA and graduate teaching certificate at London University and has taught in schools, colleges and privately, in the UK, USA, Canada and Ireland.

Having initially trained in vocal technique in England with the acclaimed vocal teacher Frankie Armstrong, Mary formalized her training in 1995 by acquiring a Certificate of Vocal Music Education from Trinity College London. She studied sean-nós (old-style) singing with renowned traditional Irish singer Gearoidín Breathnach, from the Donegal Gaeltacht, over twenty years, moving backwards and forwards across the Atlantic! She has taught Irish singing extensively throughout the Bay Area, California, where she had her own hedge school. She was also a popular guest teacher at various festivals and music camps, including the sean-nós weekends in Olympia WA and Phoenix Arizona in 2014.

In 2010 she was awarded an MA in Ritual Chant and Song at Limerick University where she specialised in the fairy / mythological songs of Ireland as well as Latin plainchant and the Irish tradition of Keening. She spent a further year taking a Sound Healing and Therapy course in San Francisco in 2013. In September 2014 she returned to Ireland to complete her doctoral studies at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, on the banks of the Shannon River. During the next four years she was immersed in both teaching at the University and researching/writing her PhD in Traditional Irish Song Studies. The title was Songs Between Worlds: Enchantment and Entrapment in the Irish Otherworld Song Tradition.

On re-entering the non-academic world in 2018 she spent two years studying shamanism at the Irish School of Shamanic Studies in Co. Mayo. Her current teaching and workshops reflect strands of all the areas of learning in which she has
immersed herself for the last decade. She has dedicated herself to looking at Irish song and traditions from many angles and is delighted to be able to pass on whatever knowledge she has acquired over the years to students in workshops, classes and private lessons.
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She has released four solo albums and two teaching books, sang the theme song for the PBS special about the Titanic, 'Lost Liners', contributed to 13 compilation albums on major labels and had two albums, ‘A Gaelic Christmas’ and “Sacred Days, Mythic Ways’ nominated for the international JPF Indie awards.

Her biggest recording successes were as the singer leading off the hugely popular Narada / EMI hit ‘Celtic Voices’ (1995) where she sang three songs including ‘Sealwoman’ which she composed over a traditional Scottish chant, and ‘Celtic Requiem’ (Windham Hill / Sony - 1998) on which she collaborated with William Coulter. The songs on ‘Celtic Voices’ had originally been recorded for the ‘Daughter of Lir’ album (1991/93/98), by the internationally acclaimed Jon Jacobs, famous for his work with Paul McCartney, the Divine Comedy and many others.

Mary is currently planning her next recording adventure which will probably be attached to the book she is now writing on the Keen and the World of Faerie.


Sacred Days, Mythic Ways (nominated for 2017 JPF International Indie Awards)
Rowan Records ( US Distribution: Gourd Music)
A Gaelic Christmas CD / Song book (placed 4th in 2009 JPF International Indie Awards)
Rowan Records ( US Distribution: Gourd Music)
Crystal Shoe
Rowan Records ( US Distribution: Gourd Music)
Singing in Irish Gaelic Book / CD set
Mel Bay Publishing
Daughter of Lir
Rowan Records (US Distribution: Gourd Music)
Celtic Requiem
Windham Hill / BMG


Celtic Circle
Sony BMG
Celtic Circle 2
Sony BMG
Celtic Legacy
Sony BMG
Celtic Sampler
Sony BMG
Narada Decade Two
Faire Celts
Celtic Song
Celtic Dream
Wyndham Hill/Hay House
Celtic Inspirations
Wyndham Hill
The Echoes Living Room Concerts Vol. 4
Conversations with God disc 2
Wyndham Hill
Narada World
Narada Collection Series
Celtic Voices: Women of Song
Narada Media


Lost Liners (PBS Soundtrack)
Michael Whalen
PBS Recordings
Celtic Crossroads
John Whelan & Friends
A Flame in Avalon
Anne Lister
Heading Home
Christine Kydd
Fellside Recordings
Burnt Feathers
Fellside Recordings
True Dare or Promise
Martin and Jessica Simpson
Poor Young Willie
Traitors Gait
Waterline Music
3D Off
Traitors Gait
Waterline Music
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Sacred Days, Mythic Ways 2012