Widely regarded as one of the most gifted musicians of her generation,Sharon Shannon was born in the Village of Ruan near Corrofin in Co Clare. Her parents IJ and Mary were set dancers and the four children all play music: Sharon accordion and fiddle, Mary (Bumblebees) banjo, Majella fiddle and Garry, flute player with the Kilfenora Ceili Band. Through her father’s involvement with horses she became a keen showjumper, but the lure of playing music was probably the main reason she dropped out of competitive showjumping at 16.
In 1989 Johnny Ringo McDonagh, who had left De Danann, formed the Galway-based Arcady which included Sharon. It was while playing with Arcady at a gig in Dublin that Mike Scott of The Waterboys was captivated by Sharon’s playing. Based then in Spiddal, Co Galway, The Waterboys asked her to join them on their upcoming tour. Their international performances, including the Glastonbury Festival, gave her first-hand experience of huge audiences.
It was around this time also that she set about recording her first album. In terms of a first record, it was studded with top musicians with Donal Lunny, Mike Scott and Steve Wickham of The Waterboys, Adam Clayton of U2 and Liam O Maonlai. Regarded as a landmark album in traditional music, Sharon Shannon was a chart success on its release. In 1992 she joined up with Eleanor McEvoy, Dolores Keane, Maura O’Connell and Mary & Frances Black to record the hugely successful album A Woman’s Heart, which became at the time the biggest selling Irish album ever.
In March 2009 she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the prestigious Meteor Music Achievements ceremony in Dublin.