Josephine McNamara

Josephine McNamara sings pure unaccompanied Irish ballads from the sean nos tradition, a Gaelic term meaning “old style”. Growing up in a farming family in County Leitrim, she absorbed a large and rich repertoire from her family, especially her father, and other singers through everyday songs heard around the house and those she picked up at local ceilis (the Gaelic word for house parties). South Leitrim’s musical heritage is remarkable for its retention of older styles, wide variety of tunes, and unique repertoire. The McNamara family in Ireland have long been admired for their knowledge of and dedication to preserving local music traditions.
In 1958, 1959 and 1961 Josephine entered and won the prestigious All-Ireland Championship contest for ballad singing at the Fleadh Cheoil, the first singer ever to achieve this feat! She moved to the U.S. in 1963, later settling in Stamford. Today she is a fervent ambassador for Irish traditional music, traveling to set-dancing gatherings throughout the Northeast and hosting dances and ceilis at the Hibernian Hall in Stamford as well.
Encouraged by fiddler Seamus Connolly, Josephine performed for the first time in years at the 1993 Gaelic Roots Festival in Boston. Since then she has been in demand to sing at ceilis, festivals and concerts across New England. She was featured in the 1995 St. Patrick’s Day concert at Wolf Trap which was broadcast live on Folk Masters, a nationally syndicated folk music program from Radio Smithsonian. To pass on her legacy of Irish traditional music, Josephine teaches sean nos apprentices.