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Influential Irish Whistle Players.

The tin whistle can sound extraordinary in the capable and quality hands of an expert musician. Today we look at some of the most influential Irish Whistle players to ever play the Tin Whistle, otherwise known as the ‘Penny Whistle’.

1. Sean Potts (1930-2014)

Extract from archivist ‘Terry Moylan’s’ online article about Sean Potts from the Irish Independent, he mentions that ‘’Sean Potts was born in 1930 in the Liberties area of Dublin and grew up in Drimnagh. His father, John, was a melodeon player, but it was his grandfather – ‘old John Potts’, a Wexford piper who had moved to Dublin before 1900 – who was the musical centre of the family, and whose house on The Coombe became a destination for traditional musicians’’.  

Sean Potts was a founding member of the iconic band ‘The Chieftains’, a traditional Irish folk band formed in Dublin in 1962 with Paddy Maloney and Michael Tubridy. Sean is considered one of the many influential Irish Whistle players to date.

To hear Sean play, please click the link below to preview a short video of Sean Potts playing the Tin Whistle.


Video Credits: Pedro Fernández García.

2. Mary Bergin

Mary Bergin, a tremendous whistle player, born in 1949 in Shankhill, Dublin who is widely acknowledged as one of the great masters of the tin whistle. According to the online article of ‘’All Celtic Music’’ written by Ronan Nolan, ‘’Mary Bergin has seen the tin whistle develop over the years with lots of different styles of whistle playing. She said in one interview: “Some people would use their tongues quite a lot and have a sort of staccato style. Then others wouldn’t use very much tongue – and instead rely on the fingers for the ornamentation. The style that I would use is a combination of the two; the tongue to punch out the rhythm and the fingers for ornamentation – the rolls and such’’.  Mary’s playing is characterized by great feeling, technical virtuosity, and a respect for the music. A remarkable composition played by Mary is ‘’The Mooncoin Jig’’ as seen in the link below:


Video Credits: Irish Traditional Music Archive Videos YouTube.

By Nathan Crampton.

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