President and Board

Joanna Crooks, President


Joanna Crooks founded the Dublin Youth Orchestra in 1981, the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras (IAYO) in 1994, and the Jeunesses Musicales Ireland in 1995, and devised the IAYO Festival of Youth Orchestras in 1996, and has played many key executive roles since then to ensure their consistent success. She has toured all over Europe, in Canada and in the USA with the youth orchestras, giving young Irish musicians invaluable international experience.

Board Members

Laoise O’Brien, Chair

Laoise O’Brien divides her time between her music production company and her career-long championing of the recorder. She studied flute at the College of Music in Dublin, recorder at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, and holds a Masters in musicology from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. 

For the past twenty years she has promoted the recorder through concert performances, education, recording, and broadcasting, working with all the major ensembles and arts organisations in Ireland. She has traveled extensively throughout the country performing at festivals, concert series, and as part of educational projects.  

Since 2015 Laoise has enjoyed a successful career as a music producer working on multiple recording projects, mostly in the classical and folk music genres. In addition to producing music for albums, video, radio and podcast, Laoise has delivered workshops and talks on the art of recording in the hope of encouraging a greater understanding of what happens behind the glass. She is regularly engaged as a consultant for national organisations on diverse topics including education, media production, and performance skills, and holds a part-time position at TU Dublin Conservatoire.  

Laoise lives with her family in Kilkenny City where they enjoy being part of a vibrant cultural community. Laoise is on the programming committee of Music in Kilkenny and sits on the Local Music Education Partnership of Music Generation Kilkenny.

Visit her website at

Wendy Arlow, Vice-chairperosn

Wendy started her career in Financial Services and has worked in various roles over a 20 year period. Her career evolved into customer relations where she was responsible for overseeing the implementation of new statutory legislation within the organisation.

She served on the Irish Quality Association, Dublin Committee during the period 1993 to 1997 and was elected Chair of the Eastern Region during that period. She was actively engaged as a team member who developed processes to ensure compliance within her organisation and which ultimately led to her organisation achieving various quality awards within the IQA group.

After the birth of her third child in 1997, she decided to take a break from full-time work. However, when one of her children joined Dublin Youth Orchestras in 2006 she volunteered her services to DYO to undertake various roles ranging from catering to orchestra supervision and ultimately becoming Office Administrator.

In 2010 she was appointed General Manager of DYO, and is responsible for overseeing the operational activities of the 4 orchestras comprising approximately 400 players, professional musicians and approx. 50 regular volunteers. This role is varied and covers all areas including event management of all public performances, tour preparation, child protection, Garda vetting, legal compliance, data protection, PR and liaison with volunteers, players & parents.

Carol Daly

Carol Daly received her early music education with Cork ETB School of Music in her native Ballincollig, where she was a multi scholarship and prize winner as a young student and was leader of her local community orchestra and of the County Youth Orchestra. She continued her violin studies at Cork CIT School of Music achieving Diplomas in Violin Performance and String Teaching. An honours graduate of UCC where she read Music and English, she was appointed Head of Music at the newly opened Glanmire Community College in 1997 which saw her actively develop a popular, vibrant and positive music tradition in the college.

From 2003 to 2009, Carol enjoyed a busy career as Deputy Principal of Cork ETB School of Music at a most exciting and dynamic stage in its development. Carol was the founding conductor of Cork ETB Youth Orchestra and brought them to the National Stage at the Festival of Youth Orchestras in 1998, 2003 and 2007. Still an active performing musician, she is in much demand as a violinist, participating in many chamber and orchestral ensembles throughout the country, featuring on CD recordings and television broadcasts. In her current role as Principal of Cork ETB School of Music, which touches the lives of almost 3,000 children in the Cork area, she is at the cutting edge of many exciting initiatives and passionately promotes music education – in particular group music making and performance as arenas for nurturing positive emotional well-being in young people. Carol is delighted to continue her association with IAYO.

Liam Daly Treasurer

Liam was a member of the Artane Boys Band from the age of 9 and studied French Horn with Victor Malirish at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. He was a member of the National Youth Orchestra, National Wind Ensemble and National Youth Choir. He obtained a Diploma in Advanced Music Studies, an LTCL Performance Diploma on French Horn and a BA Music from Waterford Institute of Technology.

Liam has worked extensively with youth bands and wind ensembles in Ireland and was Music Director of the Barrack Street Concert Band Waterford, Carlow Choral Society, Mayfield Brass Band, Dungarvan Brass Band, Athlone and Fermoy musical societies and conducted the Ruckert Orchestra and the Cork Symphony Orchestra. Liam took up a commission with the Irish Defence Forces in 1989 and served 14 years where he was Office Commanding and Music Director of the Band of the Western Brigade Athlone and the Band of the Southern Brigade Cork. In 2004 he took up a commission the Australian Defence Forces where he was Second in Command/Deputy Music Director of the Australian Army Band Melbourne, Officer Commanding/Music Director of the Australian Army Bands Darwin and Perth. While in Darwin he worked at Darwin University teaching at a youth orchestral music programme and directed the Darwin Symphony Orchestra.

Since returning to Ireland in 2008, Liam has taught in Saint Canices Co-Ed National School, Kilkenny, Coolcotts in Wexford and at the Redemptorist Centre of Music, Limerick. Liam was conductor of the University of Limerick Orchestra from 2012 to 2019 and of the Irish Symphonic Wind Orchestra (ISWO) for 3 years. He currently teaches brass and theory at the Limerick School of Music. Liam is the events manager for Discover Ireland Tours and organises concerts for international ensembles. He is the administrator of the Symphony Club of Waterford (SCOW) where he organises up to 6 concerts a year in Waterford.

Liam is married to Veronica and lives in Kilmeaden, County Waterford.

Anne Gannon

A native of Dublin, Anne (Beausang) Gannon studied the violin under Herbert Poche between 1974 and 1981 at the DIT College of Music [TU Dublin] where she completed her Grade 8 Associated Board Examinations. During her student years, Anne played with a number of musical ensembles including the Junior Irish Youth Orchestra and the Dublin Orchestral Players.

Now living in Cork, Anne continues to play and is a member of the Cork Fleischmann Symphony Orchestra. Anne currently holds the position of HR Manager at University College Cork and has completed a BSc Management, MSc (Commerce) and PhD (pending).

Anne would be delighted to work with the IAYO board as she is a strong advocate for the enjoyment, social interaction and educational benefits associated with youth orchestral playing, having experienced this first hand as a performer and observing her own three children progress through the Cork Youth Orchestra.

Martin Mc Ginley

Martin is Music Development Manager with the Donegal Music Education Partnership since December 2015 which has roughly 450 students having mostly 1-to-1 tuition in classical music and also around 250 in ten performing groups, which include the Donegal Youth Orchestra, Donegal Chamber Orchestra (mix of adults and students) and Donegal Junior Strings.

He been editor of several papers, including the Derry Journal and Donegal Democrat and he worked for six years for BBC Northern Ireland as a reporter. Martin was briefly a professional musician with a band called Ferdia, and was a founder member of Sligo band Dervish. He teaches fiddle at Fiddle Week in Glencolumbkille; the Winter School in Gaoth Dobhair; Fiddlers’ Farm in Nieuwe Niedrop NL, and various other places. As a performer, he has toured in the US, Canada and across Europe.

Martin holds a BA (Hons) from the Open University and distinctions in post-graduate OU courses in musicology and literature, as well as doing a year of an MBA. Martin has served on various other boards, including the Millennium Forum Theatre in Derry, Business in the Community (NW), Walled City Music Festival (classical) and Rotary Letterkenny. He is a current committee members of Artlink, a visual arts organisation in Inishowen, and Django Sur Lennon, which organises a gypsy jazz festival in Ramelton.

Outside of work, Martin teaches fiddle at Mulroy Music and gigs at home and abroad. He writes the ‘Full Circle’ column for the Donegal News and tries and expand his musical horizons!

Denise Ní Dhuibhir

Denise Ní Dhuibhir graduated from the Crawford School of Art and Design, Cork after a four year Fine Art programme in 1986 and has since sustained an interest in all aspects of the Arts. She has worked since 1995 with disadvantaged communities, including as a volunteer with UNICEF in Zambia, 1994 to 1998. Denise has worked with young people and adults as a teacher and educational programme coordinator with the Education Training Board. She completed a Masters in Equality Studies from NUI Dublin in 1998 and an MSc in Education from Trinity College Dublin in 2006.

Denise was hired as consultant in 2019 to assist in developing a strategic plan for St. Agnes’ Community Centre for Music and the Arts and was appointed in August 2019 on a full-time basis as Assistant Administrator. Denise is a late starter violinist herself and has been a member of St Agnes Parents’ String Orchestra for many years. She came to classical orchestral playing from a traditional start. She is a keen member of a chamber music group based in County Donegal. She was also a member of Mind Your Quavers Orchestra, Letterkenny, for a number of years.

Denise has a keen understanding of the particular problems of sustaining cultural and artistic projects in peripheral and disadvantaged areas of the country. Her administrative roles in the immediate future within St Agnes’ Community Centre for Music & the Arts include overseeing the ongoing tuition programme within Scoil Úna Naofa for present and past pupils, as well as the range of activities within the CCMA, and the three performing ensembles attached to it, Scoil Úna Naofa Orchestra, St Agnes’ Chamber Orchestra and St Agnes’ Parents’ String Orchestra.

Denise grew up in Donegal and is a fluent native Irish speaker.

Katharine Mac Mághnuis

Katharine is a co-founder and the CEO of Athenry Music School, a not-for-profit community music school that houses eight orchestras and choirs, a chamber music programme, and serves over 600 students. She is ardent in her promotion of youth ensemble music making having founded her first youth orchestra 30 years ago. She continues to conduct and compose as director of the Athenry Youth Orchestra programme and is a co-founder and Director of the OURchestra Summer Camp.

Katharine is an active chamber musician and orchestral player; a founding member of Luminosa Orchestra and was appointed deputy leader of the Irish Memory Orchestra in 2017. She also enjoys playing with Vespera, Galway’s Baroque Orchestra, and is an avid traditional fiddler. She is passionate about increasing quality and access to all levels of music education and promoting opportunities for professional development.

Matthew Toal

Matthew Toal is a qualified Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and practises full time as an actuary in his hometown of Belfast. Alongside his career in the financial services industry, Matthew is the General Manager of the Queen’s University Symphony Orchestra (QUSO). During his time in university, Matthew played in QUSO and studied violin under the tutelage of Jonathan Griffin of the Ulster Orchestra.

As a violinist, Matthew has played with many amateur orchestras across Ireland, including the Ulster Youth Orchestra, the Esker Festival Orchestra and the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra. Matthew is a firm believer in the benefits of music education, and in particular ensemble experience, in fostering the skills and attributes in young people that help develop successful careers.

Mark Thomas