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Tin whistle player Mary Bergin was born in Shankill, Co Dublin, in 1949. Her mother played classical and traditional fiddle, and her father played the melodeon. Musicians like Paddy Hill, Mrs Crotty and Mrs Harrington were regular visitors to the house. Despite attempts to teach her the piano and violin, she took to the Clarke C whistle, picking up tunes by ear. She also took up the flute in her later teens.
She remembers early on hearing Willie Clancy play the tin whistle at the Oireachtas in Dublin. The family used to go on holidays to Miltown Malbay, Co Clare, and the Ring Gaeltacht in Co Waterford. It was in Ring that she heard Nioclas Toibin singing. In Miltown Malbay she would play with Willie Clancy and the other musicians.
"When I think back, I used to listen to the old fiddle players. I always felt that they had something very special, the rhythm in their playing. While whistle players would have listened to whistle players, I listened to all instruments."
With harpist sister Antoinette McKenna she started playing at sessions in Blackrock where she met the blind whistler Terry Horan. Venturing further into Dublin led her to the Claremen's Club in Bridge Street, and the Pipers Club in Thomas Street. The growing folk boom and the expansion of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann led to Comhaltas tours of Britain with, among others, Liam Og O Flynn and Matt Molloy and the US with Seamus Begley, Joe Burke and James Kelly. She also worked for a brief but unfulfilling spell with Comhaltas.
In Dublin's Brazen Head pub she met Alex Finn who introduced her to Spiddal in Co Galway where De Danann were coming together as a group. Spiddal was also home to one of the pioneers of Gael-linn tin whistle recordings, Festi Conlon, who died in summer 2001.
She played for five years with the Green Linnet Ceili Band in Dublin: Mick Hand, flute, Tommy Peoples, fiddle, Johnny McMahon, box, Liam Rowsome, fiddle. Then she joined Ceoltoiri Laigheann with Eamon de Buitlear, a group she found interesting for their arrangements and because they played a lot of slow tunes. Then came a stint with De Danann, interrupted by motherhood - she was married to Australian instrument maker Bruce du Ve. She still does the occasional tour with Antoinette and Joe McKenna.