45 years have elapsed since Gael Linn released the ground-breaking eponymous album of P.J. Hernon playing melodeon and accordion.
Although he is a multi-All Ireland award-winning musician, it was as a 4 year old Irish language story teller that P.J. first came to the attention of Gael Linn. In May 1956, the very young P.J. and his father shared Dublin’s Damer stage with Tomás Cheaite Breathnach and other Gaeltacht performers with Seamus Ennis as ‘Fear a’ Tí’. These ‘Oícheanta Seanchais’ or Caberet Nights brought the living Gaeltacht culture to audiences in Dublin City and other places during the 50s, 60s and into the early 70s.
P.J was born in Carna into a family steeped in traditional music on both sides. He went on to command renown as a musician and also as a music teacher. Early on he was encouraged and coached by another Carna musician, Mickey Berry, since passed on. In 1973, P.J. won an All-Ireland title on the melodeon at both the Oireachtas and Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. No doubt Gael Linn were keen to capture this obvious and authentic talent on vinyl to augment their growing traditional music catalogue. He recorded a subsequent album on the Gael Linn label with his brother Marcus,who played flute and tin-whistle.
P.J. spent 4 years playing with Shaskeen. He has been living in Co Sligo, for many years and has close associations with the Coleman Music Centre and with many of the projects there since its beginnings.
P.J. Hernon is an influential traditional musician with generations of box players seeking out inspiration from his deep well of tradition. His seminal album is available on CD from Gael Linn and also on digital platforms.