With their Northern Ireland-style twin fiddling and accordion melodies accented by acoustic guitar and bouzouki, Altan has grown into one of the top traditional bands in Ireland. The inspiration for Altan was sparked when Donegal-born fiddler and vocalist Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh met Belfast-born flute player Frankie Kennedy. Ní Mhaonaigh had learned the traditional style of fiddling from her father, Francie, who had learned it from his mother, Roise. Influential Irish fiddler Dinny McLaughlin, who frequented her childhood home, added to her knowledge of the instrument. Kennedy, who studied flute as a youngster, was extremely interested in Irish music and made several trips to Ireland during school vacations. Meeting during an informal jam session, Ní Mhaonaigh and Kennedy began to play together at every opportunity. Although they both took jobs as trainee teachers at St. Patrick's College in Dublin, music remained their shared passion.