Tommy Keane was born in Waterford City and while in his early twenties, after playing tin whistle for a couple of years, he met local piper Tommy Kearney who encouraged him to take up the uilleann pipes. As well as his early tuition from Tommy Kearney, Tommy also attended the Willie Clancy Summer School where he learned further piping skills from pipers including Pat Mitchell and Liam O’Flynn. The recordings of Willie Clancy, Séamus Ennis and Tommy Reck have also influenced his repertoire and style of playing.
In the 1980s Tommy spent seven years in London where he played with many of the giants of Irish music including Tommy McCarthy, Bobby Casey and Roger Sherlock. While there he also provided music for productions by the National Theatre Co. and Rambert Ballet Co. He was in demand as a session musician and worked with Elvis Costello on The Pogues album – Rum, Sodomy and the Lash. Other recording credits in London include Clannad and Ralph McTell. He was a member of the Thatch Céilí Band in London and in 1986 they won the Senior Céilí Band competition at the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in Listowel, Co. Kerry.
Since 1987 he has lived in Galway where he has worked with Druid Theatre Co. and the Irish language theatre group – An Taibhdhearc. He has toured the U.S. on several occasions with Liam Clancy, Russia with Shaskeen and Zambia with the Sergeant Early Band. Recording credits since moving to Galway include working with Alec Finn of De Dannan on the album “Blue Shamrock” – Alec’s first solo album. He has taught piping and performed at many traditional music events including: Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy (Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare), Fonn (Galway), Blas (Limerick), Feakle Traditional Music Festival (Feakle, Co. Clare), Scoil Shéamuis Ennis (Co. Dublin), Scoil Acla (Achill, Co. Mayo), Fleadh na gCuach (Kinvara, Co. Galway), William Kennedy International Festival of Piping (Armagh), Gaelic Roots (Boston) and Augusta Irish Week (West Virginia). He has also taught and performed as guest of Uilleann Pipe clubs in England, Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.
In 1991 he released his solo album “The Piper’s Apron “ on the Mulligan label and in 1995 a duet album “The wind among the reeds” with his wife, concertina player Jacqueline McCarthy. In 1997 he performed with Iarla Ó Lionáird and The Irish Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra at the Point, Dublin and Carnegie Hall, New York. Tommy is also featured on the De Dannan CD “Welcome to the Hotel Connemara” released in 2000. He holds an M.A.(Hons) in Traditional Music Performance from University of Limerick – completed in 2000. He is featured with Liam O’Flynn and Ronan Browne on Volume 1 of Na Píobairí Uilleann’s DVD series “Piper’s Choice” – released in 2008. He teaches traditional music in Co. Galway and was Chairman of Na Píobairí Uilleann for five years until 2018, after which he was appointed Honorary President.