Des, a native of Achill Island, Co. Mayo, is widely regarded as one of the finest exponents of the tin whistle and flute in Ireland as well as an accomplished player of the Scottish bagpipes. Des has been successful at a competitive level achieving All Ireland awards for senior tin whistle and bagpipes. He has performed with artists as diverse as Mundy, Damien Dempsey, Jack L, Pete Williams, Matt Molloy, Sister Sledge, Paul Brady, Mary Coughlan, Gerry O’ Connor, James Kilbane, Steve Cooney, Lúnasa, Laoise Kelly and the St. Laurence O’ Toole Pipe Band at Carnegie Hall
As well as being a composer and performer Des is a much sought after session musician. He has recently recorded and toured with Imelda May. Des performed with Imelda on her Irish tour 2014, playing at Vicar St., Live At The Marquee, Cork and 3 Arena, Dublin. He has also performed with Imelda on The Late Late show and The Imelda May Show on RTE. He accompanied Imelda on the song, ‘Tears of Clew Bay’. Imelda’s harmonious attributes throughout the song, along with Des’s haunting whistle melody captured the attention of the audience. This was further enhanced by the surprise arrival of The Clew Bay Pipe Band to the stage during the ballad, who wowed the audience with the sway of their kilts and their melodic accompaniment to the song. Des composed the pipe score and whistle melody to go with the song which was written by Al Gare (bassist in the band).
Des along with co-founder Peter Carney established The Clew Bay Pipe Band (Banna Píob Chuan Modh). Des Cafferkey is the Pipe Major of Banna Píob Chuan Modh, which makes him the musical director, and senior instrumentalist. Peter Carney is the Pipe Sergeant who coordinates the behind the scenes work and logistics for the group. The official launch of the pipe band was on St Patrick’s Day 2012. The band next performed for such dignitaries like An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Giovanni Trappattoni, Ireland’s football manager, on their assent of Croagh Patrick. Through a conversation Michael Ring, Minister for State had with John Delaney President of the FAI in front of the audience at Croagh Patrick that day, the band received an invitation, to perform both the German and Irish national anthems for a World Cup qualifier match at the Aviva, Ireland’s national football stadium in Dublin to a crowd of 52,000, and a worldwide audience of over 74,000,000.
Shortly after that, an invite came from local Chieftain member Matt Molloy to perform alongside The Chieftains at the highly successful Westport Festival of Music and Performing Arts in June 2012. The pipe band performed at the Westport Festival of Music and Food 2013 where the extremely talented Irish singer/song writers Mundy and Damien Dempsey accompanied the band as guest singer. The band was also joined again by Matt Molloy. 2014 saw The Westport Festival of Music and Food feature The Clew Bay Pipe Band again, this time on the main stage. Mundy and Matt Molly returned as guest artists.
'Trad with a Twist’ (release date July 17th, 2014) is a follow up to the two previously, highly successful albums ‘Achill Head’ and ‘Achill Air’. Traditional Irish music enthusiasts who are familiar with Des’s unique and distinctive style, will be pleasantly surprised with the new direction this album has taken. He has introduced previously untasted flavours to traditional Irish music that has shaped and molded the ‘Twist’, this album has taken. Guest artists on this album include Matt Molloy, Trevor Hutchinson, Shane McGowan, Laoise Kelly, Raphael Dziubinski, Bart de Boar, Kyle Dunleavy, Peter Browne and The Clew Bay Pipe Band. The eight original tracks are grounded in both acoustic and electrical arrangements that deliver the engaging sounds of Cafferkey’s album with precision and maximum effect. This album was recorded, engineered and mixed at the newly opened Clew Bay Recording Studio, Westport, Co. Mayo.
Des, along with Banna Píob Chuan Modh have also recorded with Matt Molloy for his up and coming solo album under the guidance of music producer/engineer Brian Masterson. Based in Westport, Co. Mayo, Des is currently working in the locality as a music teacher. Des’s music regularly features on TG4, RTÉ Radio 1, Raidió na Gaeltachta and Lyric FM. He is actively involved in giving workshops at several summer schools both at home and abroad including the Tocane Festival, France, Westport Scoil Cheoil and Scoil Acla (Achill Island), the oldest and longest running summer school in the country which celebrated its centenary in 2010.