Máire Breatnach was born and raised in Dublin. Having studied classical violin at the College of Music (CDVEC) with Clara Greene, she was awarded the Arthur Darley Medal, and the Feis Ceoil’s Catterall Cup for concerto playing. Meantime, she was developing her interest in traditional fiddle-playing, receiving many awards at Gael-Linn’s Slógadh festivals, Scór and Oireachtas na Gaeilge.
She obtained BA and MA degrees in Irish at UCD, as well as a BMus, during which period she played in the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra, and held a lecturing position in the then Department of Irish Folklore, UCD. Máire lectured in the College of Music, DIT, before embarking on a freelance career in music. She has also studied in QUB and UL, where she gained a further MA, this time in ethnomusicology. Early performance ventures included participation in such groups as Blasket Sound, Killera and Méristem. Máire was the solo fiddler with the original “Riverdance”, and later toured with the first stage show built around it. She has also toured extensively abroad with various musicians, including Norland Wind in continental Europe. Máire has composed and recorded five solo albums: Angels’ Candles, The Voyage of Bran, Celtic Lovers, Dreams and Visions in Irish Song – Aislingí Ceoil and Cranna Ceoil / In Full Measure. She collaborated with Keith Donald for the 1999 disc The Calm After The Storm, a collection of Irish slow airs arranged for wind and strings by the two. Tarraing Téad / Pulling Strings, with Cormac De Barra (2010), is mainly focused on the music of the harpers, but also features traditional tunes arranged for strings by Cormac and Máire. On fiddle, viola, whistles, piano and keyboards, guitar and vocals, Máire has performed and recorded with Riverdance, Christy Moore, Alan Stivell, Ronan Keating, Moya Brennan, Phil Chevron, Sinead O’Connor, Bryan Adams, Altan, Sharon Shannon, Lúnasa, Mary Black, Mike Oldfield, Donovan, Dave Gilmour, Sarah Brightman, Gavin Friday, Nigel Kennedy, Donal Lunny, Dolores Keane, Ronnie Drew, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Ronan Hardiman and Bill Whelan.
As a record producer, she has worked with Sonny Condell, Johnny McEvoy, Jim McCann, The Black Family, Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, Méav, Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola, Macdara Ó Conaola and Finola Ó Siochrú. TV and film credits include Glenroe, Tinteán and Voyage (RTÉ), A Freezing Summer (Japan), Angela Mooney Dies Again, In The Name of the Father, The Secret of Roan Inish, Rob Roy and Moondance.
Máire has featured on two chart-topping albums, Tears of Stone (The Chieftains), which subsequently won a Grammy award, and Éist, for which she wrote the title song, a duet with Brian Kennedy.
She wrote a traditional/folk music column for the Irish language weekly newspaper Anois and later for the monthly magazine Comhar (2004-07). In 2006/07 she composed incidental music for over 40 children´s books in Irish (many of which she also narrated) published as CDs by Foras na Gaeilge.
Her first book, Vera agus a Veidhlín, a children´s musical story, illustrated by Robert Ballagh, was published in Dublin by An Gúm in 2008. Máire Breatnach is currently working on her sixth solo album.