Michael O’Leary – Ireland
Lattice bracing meets fan bracing with wonderful results
In the past, if you asked a player to list countries that were known for fine contemporary concert classical guitars, well, they would probably not have listed “Ireland”. That is about to change. For the past two years clients from all over have been whispering the name “Michael O’Leary” in my ear, now I know why…
Michael was born in the picturesque medieval village of Graignamanagh in Ireland. His workshop is located nearby in Milford. He played guitar at an early age influenced by his father who was an accomplished player. When his son, Alec, understandably followed a career in classical guitar, father and son were inspired to create a new style of concert guitar, an instrument built with the goal of bringing the enormous volume demanded by today’s concert artists, yet retaining a tonal character that was more traditional and in the Spanish vein. Michael studied building with Jose and Liam Romanillos, and embarked on a career as a full time luthier not long afterwards
For about two years now my clients on the Emerald Isle and elsewhere have been whispering the name Michael O’Leary in my ear. Michael is not only a fine guitar builder, but along with his son Alec, hosts the well known “Waltons Guitar Festival of Ireland” . As the host of this festival he has had the opportunity to have some of the world’s finest players provide feedback regarding his instruments. Manuel Barrueco, John Williams, David Russell, Xuefei Yang , Elena Papanderou, Lorenzo Micheli and many more have been kind enough to play Michaels guitars and offer comments. For over a year I have been trying to coax Michael into visiting me here in the states and allowing me to represent his guitars. With all the buzz about his instruments building I was very fortunate when he and his son Alec agreed to visit me recently. Michael brought with him a guitar, and finally I was able to see what all the excitement was about. Michael’s background (he has a degree in design and innovation) combined with the input received from many of the world’s finest players has led to the creation of a truly superior guitar.
His guitars are built with a braceless arched back and combination bracing system that pairs carbon fiber lattice bracing with traditional fan bracing to produce guitars that are unusually powerful, but with a tonal character that is deep, rich, dark, profound and very traditional/Spanish sounding in nature.
David Russell recently played a concert on his new O’Leary guitar, dedicating the Irish composition to the luthier, Michael O’leary! Berta Rojas and Sharon Isbin have also acquired O’Leary guitars recently. Well deserved congratulations go to Michael for this high level of recognition.
My first client to try one bought it immediately and promptly ordered two more! Please call me to find out why so many people are talking about these instruments, and why in the future, when a player is asked “what countries do you think of when you think of fine contemporary classical guitars?” They will no doubt add “Ireland” to the list.