Mai Hernon Biography
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. Connie 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 would always sing 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. It’s 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 writes 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.
Her third album is Called “Easter Snow”, which differs from the previous two in that she has musical arrangements of 6 of the songs.
She has some of her musical friends on this album playing behind her singing. Seamus Hernon on Flute/whistle, Rodney Lancester, on 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 include it on her own album.
Mai has been a traditional singing teacher for the last 17 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. She toured with Ray Coen who is a well know musician in Ireland and indeed around England and Europe.
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.
Mai has also produced and presented her own show for Irish TV called..."Out and About USA", this was a program covering different aspects of what Irish people lives are like in the States. She covered many of the Irish/Celtic festivals where she interviewed many great artists, committee members, visitors and vendor's.
Mai is now based in Cincinnati, where she is part of a group called, Celtic Font, and is the lead singer with her all female band called "BEESWING".
For workshops and concerts, festivals or folk clubs please contact Mai at:
2010 - present
2010 - present
Mai performed in a TV programme called "My life in Verse" by the BBC. Featuring Cerys Mattews from Wales.
Published on Mar 14, 2014
Mai has a small part in this movie which she is very proud of, as this movie was accepted into the Cannes film festival amoung others.
For anyone ever rescued by a pet... a magical tale about finding love, companionship, and your true destiny... with a little help from a friend. #rescuefilm
"Le Sauvetage (The Rescue)" is a short film premiering at the Sonoma International Film Festival, and selected for the Festival de Cannes Court Metrage.
The six-minute tale features The Olate Dogs, winners of America's Got Talent, and is devoted to everyone working for animal rescue and welfare.
Animal shelters and rescue groups may request a copy for EXCLUSIVE previews at events and for fundraising purposes. This film is for you!
Places where Mai has performed
Bath Folk festival England
Paddy's Point La Zenia
The World Festival
Irish Arts Center
Hooker-Dunham Theartre and Gallary
Worcester Hibernian Cultural Centre
19 Temple Street in Worcester, MA
1357 Cambridge Street Cambridge, MA 02139
Brick Hill House Concerts
SC Irish Arts Weekend (instructor & featured performer)
Colombia, South Carolina
Dublin Ohio Irish Festival (singing workshop)
Dayton Celtic Festival Oh.
The Parting Glass
Saratoga Springs NY
Concert and Workshop
Albany Ny Benefit concert
Irish Heritage Center, Cincinnati
South Carolina Irish festival
Berea center for the ArtsWorld fest., Louisville, Kentucky
Cincinnati Celtic Festival
Sept 14th at Washington park.
Fairfax Irish Festival,
Glen Echo Maryland
Day Dreams Cafe,
Oct 5th Marietta, Ohio
Green Tie Affair
Irish Heritage Center, Cincinnati