Mai Hernon
  • Female
  • Boyle
  • Ireland
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Your County or State
What Instrument ( inc Voice ) Do You Play ?
Taditional singer/Set dancer/ Bodhran player
What level are you at ?
Provide any other information here
Come from Gurteen Co Sligo and now live in Cincinnati.


Mai Hernon was born in the heart of Coleman County, Gurteen, Co Sligo. It is the birthplace of Michael Coleman, a rich hamlet of Irish culture where singers, Flautists and fiddlers like Peter Horan, Fred Finn, Seamus Tansey, abound.

Mai grew up in a traditional musical family. To her it was part of life, just like the landscape she grew up with. As a teenager she would visit fleadhs and feisanna where her love of Irish music and culture continued to develop.

She soaked it all up and she became an accomplished set-dancer. She was dancing sets with the local men and women, when she was a child, and she attended workshops given by Connie Ryan at Tubbercurry when she was much older, which she enjoyed. Conny Ryan told her that she "was a great set-dancer". However a back injury prompted her retirement from set dancing for a number of years. It was then that Mai discovered a new talent, her singing voice.

This discovery was made by Colm O’Donnell at the Tubbercurry South Sligo Summer School. Mai attended the summer school at which Colm invited her to sing for the class. Before this Mai always sung at home for her children and her own amusement. People were knocked out and moved by her extraordinary voice. Cathy Jordan from Dervish became a supporter and friend and with her encouragement, Mai made her debut stage performance as a featured singer at the 1998 Tubbercurry summer school.

In 1999 Mai was invited to host the singing classes and to lead the workshops at the summer school. Her workshops became very popular. Mai continued to develop this new talent. She used the roots of traditional music found in the Gurteen area. These were the kind of songs she could throw herself into and bring forth an emotional depth unheard elsewhere. Alongside this tradition people continued to give her songs and soon Mai was hearing recordings by Dick Gaughan, Sandy Denny and Andy Stewart. However her first love was traditional unaccompanied songs.

Mai recorded her first album "Peace in Erin" in 1999, which is a stunning debut album. Mai’s rich strong and melodic voice breathes new life into a collection of narrative ballads drawn from both traditional and contemporary sources. The focus is placed firmly on the voice and the song, with minimal musical accompaniment. Mai’s voice is a rich and wonderful, a voice that is dark, tender and extremely passionate, yet devoid of overkill.
Her attitude to her material is refreshingly honest and short on cliche. Mai’s talent lies in her ability to place herself within the context of the story and thus she becomes a storyteller and the song becomes real and vibrant. It is never strained of forced, and never loses its real meaning. Mai recorded her second album which was released in the summer of 2006. This album called "Maifein", is just what it says. Its just Mai and her voice and her songs. 14 tracks of powerful songs delivered in a lovely traditional style. A long time friend of Mai's, the very well known actor from Ireland, Mick Lally write's on the sleeve notes stating that it was only in recent years that he had heard Mai singing and he states that she delivers beautiful dulcet tones and put great feeling into her songs.

Mai has just recorded her new album, which is her third one, and it is called " Easter snow". She has some of her musical friends on this album playing behind her singing. Seamus Hernon on Flute/whistle, Rodney Lancester, on bosuki/concertina, and Paddy Morgan on guitar. There are five songs arranged by Mai and the lads, and listening to them you can hear the musicianship and talent of not just the singer but the musicians also. The arrangements of these songs are unique to this group. Also Mai is joined by a guitar player called Rachel Scoazec from France, but now living in Dublin. They recorded the Song called "Sally Sits Aweeping" for a demo which they were going to use, so Mai decided to re-record this track with Rachael and Brian McDonagh from Dervish, and the result of that recording is track 7 on the CD.

Mai has been a traditional singing teacher for the last 10 years at the summer schools in her area, and people have come from all over the world to learn from her. She has gone to England, Spain and America teaching and singing at concerts and folk clubs. She has been a special guest at festivals and she has been in line ups with such people as Len Graham, Tim Dennehy, Roisin White. She has played with the likes of Seamie ODowd, and Rick Epping, Brian McDonagh, Liam Kelly and Cathy Jordon from the band called Dervish.

MAI appeared on the BBC2 programme called "My life in verse" featuring Cherys Matthews from Wales. Cherys was the lead singer with that famous band called Catatonia.

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At 20:51 on November 4, 2012, Tradconnect Reviews said…


Welcome to the site and thanks for joining. Here is your welcome message

Enjoy your time with us and tell all your friends.


Tony Lawless


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