Belfast Telegraph

Poll: Who is Northern Ireland's greatest guitarist?

Northern Ireland may be a small corner of the world but some of music's most talented guitarists hail from right here.

Inspired by the latest Bushmills #AnswerTheCall event 'Whiskey and Strings', take a look at the best known guitarists from Northern Ireland and ask who do you think is the greatest?

1. Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard and Whitesnake)

Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Hailing from Co. Tyrone, Viv Campbell is a global icon.

The rock hero hasn’t yet forgotten his roots and continues to visit his hometown of Donaghmore. You never know if you might see him down in The Brewer’s House.

Playing guitar from the age of 12, Campbell eventually got to play with his all-time favourite band, Thin Lizzy in 2010, showing that passion and perseverance is a powerful duo.

2. Eric Bell (Thin Lizzy)

Eric Bell, the original Thin Lizzy guitar player

As one of the founding members of Thin Lizzy, Eric Bell is cemented as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

The Belfast-bred star defiantly walked out of his first job as an apprentice mechanic after hearing the Rolling Stones on the radio for the first time, inspired to follow his own dreams of becoming a musician.

With credentials like the opening riff for Whiskey in the Jar on his CV, Eric’s legacy will keep Belfast on the international music map for decades to come.

3. Van Morrison

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Van Morrison

Belfast native, Van Morrison needs no introduction.

One of the most innovative and unique musicians in the world, his classic songs like ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, ‘Domino’ and ‘Wild Night’ were influenced by his father’s collection of blues, country and gospel.

‘Van the Man’ is a guitar icon who continues to collaborate with other musical greats like Ray Charles and Tom Jones as he builds one of the most revered catalogues in music history.

4. Nathan Connolly (Snow Patrol)

Gary Lightbody and Nathan Connolly (R) of Snow Patrol. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Getty Images)

With global hits like “Chasing Cars” and ‘Just Say Yes’ under their belt, it’s easy to forget that rock band Snow Patrol had humble beginnings right here in Northern Ireland.

Lead guitarist and backing vocalist, Nathan Connolly hails from Belfast, and is credited with having heavily influenced Snow Patrol’s sound.

In 2013, Connolly also formed his own side project, Little Matador along with musicians who have played for The Frames, Bell X1, Turn and Concerto for Constantine.

Watch out for Little Matador who will play a Belfast gig as part of Belsonic on August 17 this year.

5.Paul Mahon (The Answer)

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The Answer: Micky Waters, Cormac Neeson, James Heatley and Paul Mahon

Paul Mahon, of The Answer, and his bandmates count Jimmy Page and Def Leppard frontman, Joe Elliot as their fans.

The Answer has also supported rock’n’roll heavyweights Aerosmith, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones and Whitesnake.

It’s safe to say Paul has secured his place in the Guitar Hall of Fame and has done a thing or two for Northern Ireland’s reputation on the riff scale too.

6. Gary Moore (Thin Lizzy)

Gary Moore

Also a member of Thin Lizzy, Robert William Gary Moore was born in Belfast and went on to become one of the world's most iconic guitar players.

Gary started playing the instrument at just eight years old and never looked back, performing with Thin Lizzy, Skid Row and Colosseum II.

He said his musical influences included Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Presley and The Beatles

7. Paul McMordie

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Paul McMordie

A lauded guitarist and instructor, Paul McMordie has put the NI guitar scene firmly on the map, teaching local stars Nathan Connolly from Snow Patrol and Paul Mahon from The Answer, as well as running the Belfast Guitar Festival which celebrates homegrown skills and has created a fraternity for local guitarists.

Paul takes inspiration from left-field players, carefully refining his methods and style to teach some of the world’s best musicians.

  • Bushmills has collaborated wiith Paul McMordie and fellow Northern Ireland guitarists George Lowden to create ‘Whiskey and Strings’, a music-filled event offering attendees the chance to hear inspiring stories of calling and enjoy surprise musical performances. To register to attend visit the events section at

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