Sligo Singer Mai Hernon, Tour Company and Irish Embassy Launch the Sligo 2014 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in USA
A County Sligo native and the owners of a USA/Sligo based tour company brought a slice of Sligo to the Washington D.C. USA, area to launch the 2014 Sligo Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, with the help of the Embassy of Ireland this past week. Mai Hernon, who is a traditional Irish singer from Gurteen, performed for a sold out audience and enthusiastically promoted Sligo and the Fleadh Cheoil with songs and stories of Sligo and a visual presentation provided by Wild West Irish Tours, who organised the event.
Michael Regan-Waugh, owner of Wild West Irish Tours told Sligo Today, “You would be surprised that so few over here actually know what the Fleadh Cheoil is, let alone that it will be in Sligo in 2014. So we called in our friend Mai Hernon and asked her to represent Sligo and talk up the Fleadh here in the D.C. area.”
This Sunday afternoon celebration of Irish music and dance, which drew a capacity audience, caught the attention of the Irish Embassy in Washington D.C. Ms. Claire Roche, Cultural Attache of the Embassy said: “The Embassy is delighted to be associated with Wild West Irish Tours’ launch of the 2014 tour season and the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, which this year is taking place in Sligo. The Fleadh is a major event in the Irish cultural calendar, and one which brings people from all over the world together through their shared love of traditional Irish music. We applaud Wild West Irish Tours on the work they do in bringing people from both sides of the Atlantic together in a fun way, further cementing the bonds of friendship between our two great nations.” Musicians from the local Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann also joined in the celebration and launch.
Mai Hernon, who also performed in Richmond, Virginia at another Wild West Irish Tour event, said, “I was delighted to be asked by Michael Regan-Waugh and Trish O’Donnell Jenkins of Wild West Irish Tours to play a part in promoting the Fleadh and indeed Sligo. I was absolutely taken by their passion for Sligo and to be honest, watching the video promotion and singing all the old songs I learned in Gurteen, I couldn’t help but become a little homesick for Sligo. I am very proud that the Fleadh will be in Sligo and I will continue to promote the festival all year long, alongside Wild West Irish Tours.”
The Irish American News Ohio.
The traditional singing of Mai Hernon is so true and clear that it could be described as 'distilled' In his sleeve notes, the highly acclaimed actor, Mick Lally says "It is only relatively recent since I became aware of the singing of Mai Hernon, but then I suppose it is only relatively recent since she decided to give us access to her dulcet singing. It is to be warmly welcomed that Mai has decided to record her songs, and a fine range of songs she has. Her singing is always enjoyable and exceedingly pleasant on the ear. By and large it's a fairly simple style that's not overly ornate, and more importantly, perhaps, she never loses sight of the nattative of the song"
Irish Music Magazine
Who can argue with an album with a title like this? It says it as it is as Mai Hernon gives us fourteen lovely songs unaccompanied. I will be the first to admit that unaccompanied singing is far from my favourite genre but this lady has a voice that can make you forget that all you are getting is the human vocal chords. There is a lovely mellow warm quality to her singing that brings new life to the older songs on offer here. She opens with ‘As I Roved Out’ and follows this with ‘May Morning Dew’. A lesser-known track is ‘Shores of my Own Native Land’ although the sentiments have graced hundreds of emigration songs. Among the other tracks on offer Hernon gives full voice to ‘Una Bhan’, ‘The Wee Weaver’ and ‘Siuil A Ruin’ and will haunt the listener with these wonderful poetic songs. Her interpretation in just over 90 seconds of ‘I Know my Love’ is a revelation. Another revelation - for me anyway was - ‘Braes of Balquitter’.We hear it more often as ‘Go Lassie Go’ or ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ but Mai again takes the same words and makes it her own. Fans of Skylark may wish to compare it to Len Graham’s version.
She notes all tracks as traditional but I wonder about a song that has been tearfully strangled at wakes and weddings for decades, ‘Two Loves’ but again she rescues it from that fate and gives us a little gem. She closes proceedings with ‘The Parting Glass’ and leaves us with a new respect for unaccompanied singing. Nicky Rossiter
I had the pleasure of singing on the TV program that Cerys recorded in Sligo, and also as you can see from the photo's, here I am on botton picture singing for Cerys and her partner Steve after the recording was done and we were chilling.