John O’Conor - piano and Ailbhe McDonagh - cello

Saturday 8th October 2022


Irish cellist Ailbhe McDonagh is an international soloist, chamber musician and composer who performs throughout Europe, Asia and the USA. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the Royal Irish Academy of Music, she studied with world-renowned cellists Steven Doane, Nora Gilleese, Aisling Drury-Byrne and William Butt.    

As a chamber musician, she performs in a duo, The McDonagh Sisters, with pianist Orla McDonagh. She is also a member of the Ficino Ensemble and the crossover traditional Irish music group Trio Elatha, where she plays traditional Irish music on the cello.  

McDonagh is also an established composer with numerous compositions and commissions to her name. Boosey & Hawkes, London published two books of her piano music entitled “It’s a Piano Thing” and more recently “It’s a Cello Thing,” two books of her pedagogical pieces for cello. Further works for cello include a solo suite commissioned by the Arts Council of Ireland and the title piece for her recent Skellig album for cello and piano. McDonagh has also been published by ABRSM, RIAM and Hal Leonard.  

McDonagh joined the cello faculty of the RIAM in 2010 and she enjoys regular invitations to give masterclasses. Previous albums include It’s a Cello Thing (2012 CD of the week on RTE Lyric FM) and Skellig (2020 Irish Examiner, Top Picks of the Year). She performs on a Postacchini cello.


The Irish pianist John O'Conor has been gathering wonderful reviews for his masterly playing for over forty years. "A pianist of unbounding sensitivity" (Gramophone); "He represents a vanishing tradition that favors inner expression and atmosphere over showmanship and bravura" (Chicago Tribune); "Impeccable technique and musicality ... it would be hard to imagine better performances" (Sunday Times - London); "This artist has the kind of flawless touch that makes an audience gasp" (Washington Post); "Exquisite playing" (New York Times).

O’Conor studied in his native Dublin, in Vienna with Dieter Weber, and was tutored by the legendary Wilhelm Kempff. His unanimous 1st Prize at the International Beethoven Piano Competition in Vienna in 1973 opened the door to a career that has brought him all around the world.

O’Conor’s recordings of the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas led CD Review to say that he "by now should be recognized as the world's premier Beethoven interpreter" and his recent recordings of the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos with the London Symphony Orchestra and Andreas Delfs have also been greeted with acclaim. He recently released three CDs on the Steinway & Sons label: Beethoven's Diabelli Variations and two volumes of Haydn Sonatas. He has also been featured on with videos on teaching and discussing Beethoven and Haydn Sonatas.

A Steinway Artist, O’Conor is Chair of the Piano Division at Shenandoah University in Virginia, Professor of Piano at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Distinguished Visiting Artist at the TU Dublin Conservatoire of Music and Visiting Professor at Showa University in Japan.

For his services to music O’Conor has been decorated "Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" by the French Government, awarded the "Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst" by the Austrian Government, the "Order of the Rising Sun" by the Emperor of Japan, and has received many other awards.

Book Tickets

2 videos describing the project:

Documentary and interview

Beethoven A major Sonata


The DMA are extremely appreciative of the support of Westmeath County Council Arts Office and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media for this concert.

The DMA Memory Book

In 2021, the DMA published a Memory Book, listing all concerts and music played since the first concert in 1987. The book has wonderful sketches from concerts at Tullynally drawn by the late Jeremy Williams. There are also several delightful short 'memories' from performers and audience members. Books are €10 each plus P&P at €3 per book and you can purchase them by contacting
If you have booked to attend a forthcoming concert, you can reserve books to collect saving you the cost of postage.  We are now operating our events as 'cashless' so we ask you email your order to in advance and pay into the DMA account directly and you can collect your books at the concert.      


2022 Concert schedule

  • October 8th John O'Conor and Ailbhe McDonagh
  • November 12th Solas Quartet with Ed Creedon, viola

Spring 2023 concert dates will be posted in October. 
We no longer send out information about concerts in the post, as all communications are now through email. Please send your email address to if you wish to receive updates about our concerts.


Patron: Valerie Pakenham

Chaired by: Jane Massy

Treasurer: John Farrell

Alex Chisholm, Joan Flood, Dawn Harmon, Michael McCann, Hugh Logan, Bridget Taylor, Octavia Tulloch, Susan Wiggins, Charney and Maire Weitzman.