The Irish Button Accordion

The Irish button accordion is a captivating and lively instrument that holds a key position in traditional Irish music. Its bellows-driven sound creates a distinct and spirited melody, making it a cherished part of Irish folk ensembles.

The bellows work by pulling and squeezing the instrument, the left hand plays bass notes and the right plays melody. It came to Ireland from Germany in the 19th century and is especially popular in Irish Ceili bands.

Accordion card from Exploring Ireland game

Over the years, several influential Irish button accordion players have left an indelible mark on the genre.

One such luminary is Joe Cooley, an accordion virtuoso from County Galway, known for his powerful and innovative playing style.

Another notable figure is Sharon Shannon, who has pushed the boundaries of traditional Irish music with her accordion prowess and cross-genre collaborations.


Máirtín O’Connor, a highly skilled accordionist and composer, has also made significant contributions to the instrument’s prominence in contemporary Irish music.

These influential accordion players, along with many others, have contributed to the enduring appeal and evolution of the Irish button accordion, ensuring its place as a beloved and indispensable aspect of the Irish musical tradition.