O’hAnleigh is a quartet with Irish roots from Middlebury, Vermont. Tom Hanley, a second-generation Irishman descended of immigrants from Counties Laois and Roscommon, performed with bar rock bands starting in the early 1970’s. When asked by a social organization to perform some Irish music at a St. Patrick’s Day event in 2002, he enlisted his then 12-year-old daughter Becca, counting on her ethereal soprano to evoke visions of Ireland past. For the next year, Tom and Becca performed at fairs, Irish clubs, farmers markets, and social events.
In early 2003, fiddler Cindy Hill joined the father-daughter team. Cindy’s ancestors hail from Counties Tyrone and Limerick. Her musical credentials range from school orchestra, band, jazz band and chorus including being selected for New York State’s all-state jazz bands, orchestra and chorus and her interest in traditional Celtic music sprang from her long political activism in the Irish independence movement. Cindy ran a weekly hands-on music program for developmentally disabled adults in Chittenden County, Vermont, in 2008-2009. Cindy brings a knowledge of Celtic mythology and legends to the band along with her multi-instrumental talents. In 2019, Matt Bean, a veteran of Mark Sustic’s Fiddleheads program and Vermont bands from Trinity to Longford Row to the Cop Outs, joined forces with O’hAnleigh, adding to the band’s vocal harmonies, fiddle tunes and array of other stringed instruments.
Songwriting duo Tom Hanley and Cindy Hill were runners up in the International Songwriting Contest in 2005 for their ballad “Town of Strabane”, which recounts the story of a faerie tree in Cindy’s ancestral home of Strabane. Hanley/Hill also took second place in the 2018 Grassy Knoll Songwriting Contest for their pieces “Dance” and “Avalon”.
From classic Gaelic ballads to rollicking pub songs, Irish-American tin pan alley tunes to traditional dance sets, songs of rebellion to songs of love and loss, OhAnleigh’s vocal talents combine to create a unique sound, supported with a dazzling array of instruments including 6 and 12 string guitars, bouzouki, mandolin, bass, fiddle, tenor banjo, penny whistles, harmonica, bowed psaltery, dulcimer, autoharp, bodhrans, bones, spoons, and a whole assortment of other small percussion, much of it hand-made out of odd bits of things found in the garage to get just the right sound for a particular song.