Irish music is so rich that many regional styles can be identified and associated with a particular part of Ireland not fixed by precise boundaries but originated by a cluster of local and individual styles centred on one area. Regional styles can be applied to song, instrumental music and dance. Three sets of factors determine the regional styles: social, material and aesthetic. Social factors include geographic location, economic aspects (professional or personal), political aspects (complacency or activism), frequency and location of playing; while material factors depend on instruments used: voice and fiddle are universal to all regions, but accordion, flute, harp and uillean pipes are popular too. Aesthetic factors are the most important and they actually characterise regional styles deeply. They include: way of playing, tune type, repertoire, function of music, style of the performer such as "letting go" or "getting into" the music and attack or how the player goes at it.
Although County Mayo is often associated with the traditional Irish singing style (the sean-nos style) in Irish language, a Mayo flute tradition is documented and illustrated as part ingrained in the psyche of this region; the Chieftain flute musician Matt Molloy and the flute player Joe Byrne are very well known names. North Mayo area has became important for making instruments with the presence of two flute makers and one fiddle maker.
In modern time Mayo is also significant for harp presence with such names as Grainne Hambly and Laoise Kelly.
County Mayo also has a strong teaching tradition that gives the county an inestimable value: harp, flute, whistle, accordion and fiddle are taught by high-status teachers or at the annual summer schools on Achill Island, at Kilmovee and at Louisburgh during the festival Feile Chois Chuin. Formal performances take place in Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, at Matt Molloy's in Westport, at The Old Church in Claremorris or at The Listening Club in Newport.
Did you know?
In Co. Mayo the most important playing format is the session where people of all ages come together and play.
There are interesting sessions all over the county: in Balla (Mannion's), Ballaghaderren (Spell's), Castlebar (McHale's, McCarthy's), Charlestown (Finan's, Murray's), Clare Island (community centre), Foxford (Bourke's), Partry (Lough Inn), Kilkelly (Shazzy Mac's), Newport (The Grainneuaile, Derradda school) and Westport (McGing's, Matt Molloy's, Cobbler's Bould Biddy's).
Traditional music programmes with high music content can be listening on the local radios such as Mid West Irish Radio and Midwest Radio FM.