“A Day in the Life” with Montreal Shantyman Seán Dagher

Although he can play almost any musical instrument, Seán Dagher is Montréal’s Irish Bouzouki master and can be found often playing and singing in the evenings at Hurley’s Irish Pub. During the other hours, this versatile composer, arranger, director, singer, bandmate, father, and friend hardly sleeps! and only sits still at the computer when the job calls for movie adaptations, compositions for video games or orchestral arrangements.

Whether it’s for friends, live audiences or the internet, Seán brings people together with music and song, in particular Sea Shanties. During the pandemic, “The Shanty of the Week” fell into the Tuesday morning routine of thousands of enthusiastic and faithful followers on YouTube.

Co-artistic director of La Nef, Seán advises on and promotes his colleagues’ projects with creativity and caring. His bands, The Swindlers, and Skye Consort & Emma Björling are greatly influenced by his presence and musical contributions. As a touring musician, Seán has banked hundreds of thousands of kilometres and still seems to show up back at Hurley’s most Wednesdays and Thursdays in Montréal.

-Written by Amanda Keesmaat

Seán Dagher
With Jon, Maia, and Flora
Seán Dagher
At Fairmount Theatre
3 Foley bouzoukis in Ennis Ireland
Photo of a photoshoot with La Nef
Ensemble La Nef and Chor Leoni “Sea Songs and Shanties”
Work before play with La Nef
Seán Dagher
Recording/filming in Glasgow
Seán Dagher
Mediating between Gogarty and Joyce


Which ’hood are you in?

I live in the Vieux Rosemont neighbourhood of Montreal. It’s a great little village with everything you need in walking distance and a real sense of community. Parks, restaurants, grocery stores, pubs. I love it here.

What do you do?

I mostly make music, but I do some sound gigs as well. I play in an Irish pub in Montreal two nights a week. I tour with La Nef, with Skye Consort & Emma Björling, and solo. I provide music for films and videos. I make my own videos for my YouTube channel. I walk my dog. I do arrangements of folk music for various types of music ensembles, from flute duos to symphony orchestras. I run a concert series in Old Montreal. It week-day lunch-time concerts in a public square.

What are you currently working on?

I’m getting ready for a big winter/spring of touring; I’ll be in the Northwest Territories, Vancouver, Seattle, Czechia, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Victoria, Ireland, and the USA. In that order. Before the end of June. I am putting the finishing touches on the choral scores for The Return Voyage with Chor Leoni in Vancouver. Some of the music we have performed before, but some of it comes from La Nef’s upcoming album of sailors’ songs: Red Sky At Night. I am finishing up that album now and it is going to print. I am finishing the orchestrations of a bunch of songs for a collaboration between La Nef and The Victoria Symphony in March. I am working on a new album with Skye Consort & Emma Björling which should be out in the spring. I am writing and recording another song for an animated movie coming out in the fall. Not allowed to say more about that. Soon I will start booking the bands for the summer concert series. In all of that, I am especially excited about getting back together with Chor Leoni and singing some songs.

Where can we find your work?

My video series “The Shanty of the Week” is on my YouTube channel, along with many other videos I have posted with all of my groups. Those songs and the ones I sang in the Assassin’s Creed video game series are also available on Spotify and Apple Music. So are all of the Skye Consort and La Nef albums. You can come to one of the shows I’ll be performing, but I don’t know where there’s a complete list.


About Emilea Semancik 81 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to work as a freelance writer and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. Taking influence from journalism culture surrounding the great and late Anthony Bourdain, she is a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of books. You can find her food blog on Instagram: