Hi John and welcome to the forum.
Depending on where you live there are different options, but I would say don't be tempted to buy from a general online store such as Amazon; even some general music stores are not good either.
It's best to buy from a shop that specialises in string instruments - that way you have more chance of getting an instrument that's set up properly, which for a beginner is more important than the quality of the violin itself imo.
I can recommend Fiddlershop if you're in the US (I'm not, but I still bought my violin from them - importing goods from abroad can be a pain at the receiving end though).
Hi John. I think you picked a great style to concentrate on! my personal favorite.
Depends on your money situation. I rented one for a few months then bought a fiddle.. Think its called a euro standard and was made in romania. about 400.00 or so. Went through some gotta have a better fiddle phases and aquired the one i play now. but that 1st one honestly still gets played.
Assuming you are in the States..Ive heard shipping can be expensive to outside areas....but..Something in 1 of these models. an OB1 up to a soloist will be fine for Irish. in Irish youll be staying in 1st position mostly if not all the time. so even though youd want one made thats easy all the way up the fingerboard..you wont need it.
If you have a local shop maybe even check in there and tell them what you want to play. I got lucky and the sales person at mine plays same atyle and pointed out a couple he liked
It will take a bit of time for you to figure out what you want. You could spend as much as you want right now but the only thing youll need is one that plays well and is setup correctly. Give yourself a year or so and youll start to get a better idea on what you want.
You picked a great instrument to learn, and a great style as well good luck with it.
As for buying a violin, I wouldn't spend too much on your first one as you may not stick with it, which you have to take into account, unless money is no object.
I bought my first one from stentor, still have it, OK to get used to how it works, the one I have now is Hungarian which I bought from a luthier called Michael Phoenix in Liverpool, typical scouser.
If I was in the states I would go with what Jim and Greg said, get a cheaper end fiddlerman one, they have great reviews, I wanted a composite bow from them but shipping costs to much to the UK.
My best advice is don't spend too much.
Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×?@?#?@
I want to further emphasize Jim's advice: when you're shopping in the beginner range, where you buy is more important than what you buy. If at all possible, go to a shop that specializes in string instruments. Factory-made student violins are typically shipped with little or no setup, which often makes them more difficult to play, and sellers that don't specialize in string instruments often sell violins as shipped from the factory.