Ryan’s tender tenor voice coupled with his bouncy, jolly and ethereal tin whistle and bamboo flute playing has led to some delightful arrangements inspired by animals, environmentalism and Irish lore. Dedicated to unearthing the mysteries of Irish history and culture through the study of traditional music, Ryan has amassed an impressive repertoire of Irish, Scottish and English songs and ballads dating back hundreds of years. Now based in Nellysford, VA he is often accompanied by his wife Catherine on the bodhran or with his band The Irish Songbirds. Ryan is also know for his theatrical performances and Crankie puppet shows.

Ryan Dunne’s first foray into Irish music began in 2007 during his final year of high school in Fairfax, Virginia.  The girl he fancied at the time approached him one day and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, you are so Irish.  I love your soul!” For a moment, he couldn’t imagine how she could tell, but then realized he was wearing a Claddagh ring and necklace, not to mention a sweatshirt with an Ireland logo.  And a tweed hat, of course, the weather demanded it.  

Well, clearly he was fond of Ireland, but she was the first person to suggest that his ancestry might also be connected to his soul. What’s an Irish-American boy to do, when he wants to win a girl’s heart and find his soul?  He picked up the tin whistle and learned a few Irish tunes. Since then Ryan has traveled to Ireland many a time picking up songs and tunes along the way. He didn’t win the heart of the girl but Ireland and Irish music had won his.


Photographer: Robert Dunne

Location: Nelson County Farmers Market, 2018