Brendan Mulhaire was born in Eyrecourt Co Galway. He started playing the accordion under the early influence of his father Tommy and brother Martin. He won the Junior All Ireland accordion Championship when he was just fourteen and started his music career that same year doing occasional fill ins for his brother Martin with the Kilimor and Kiltormer Ceili Bands.
In 1958 he left Eyrecourt at the age of 18 years to go to Galway City with his Dad and Mom and two sisters Moira and Sheila. Almost immediately he joined the
Martin Mulhaire was born in Eyrecourt County Galway, into a family steeped in traditional music. Martin started playing the accordion at the age of twelve under the early influence of his father Tommy, Paddy O'Brien and Kevin Keegan. He won the coveted All-Ireland at age seventeen. About this time, he started composing tunes, many of which are standard session tunes today from The Golden Keyboard to Carmel Mahoney
Mulhaire's. Martin became known as an accordion player by his early records made for Gael-Linn (now out of print) and broadcast over Radio Eireann. Martin also played with the Aughrim Slopes and Killimor Ceili bands. In 1957 he was asked by Paddy Canny and P.J. Hayes to join the famous Tulla Ceili Band for a tour of England. Later that year, they won the All Ireland Ceili Band Competition in Dungarven, Co Waterford. The next stop for Martin and the Tulla Ceili Band was New York City for St Patrick’s Day 1958. They performed a concert in the world renown Carnegie Hall and released the first long play ceili record titled Echoes of Erin, featuring Martin playing Cottage Groves and the Sally Gardens.
After the band returned to Ireland Martin, and his wife Carmel, stayed in the USA and raised their family. He learned to play the guitar as a hobby and for the next 20 years played lead guitar and accordion in one of the top show bands in New York, The Majestic Showband which Martin co-founded in 1963 with Mattie Connolly. Keeping the tradition alive during this time, Martin also enjoyed house sessions at the homes of Louie Quinn and John O'Neill.
The 1980s brought about a resurgence in traditional Irish music with two of Martin's youngest daughters, Laura (piano) and Sheila (flute), now playing music with him at Conway's traditional house sessions. All three can be heard on Fathers and Daughters produced by Mick Moloney. This also inspired Martin to begin composing again naming two of his later tunes after his daughters. He and Brian Conway, both earning SAG memberships, can be spotted playing in Guests of the Nation and a St. Patrick's Budweiser commercial!
In 1993 Martin along with Seamus Connolly (fiddle), Felix Dolan (piano) and Jack Coen (flute) released Warming Up featuring seven of Martin’s own compositions. He was inducted into the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Hall of Fame in 1995, honored by Boston College for his musical influence in 2002 and recognized by Galway's Association New York in 2006 for his lifelong contributions to Irish Traditional Music. In 2009, Martin was honored by his local Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk and Queens and in 2010 by the Catskills Irish Arts Festival. Throughout all these accolades, Martin could be heard playing with Pete Kelly at numerous festivals, ceili's and cruises. Martin's legacy continues to live through his five children, thirteen grandchildren, fleadhs and sessions around the world.
Lough Lurgan Ceili Band. After about a year he formed his own band and could be heard playing all over the county and locally in Galway city in the Hanger, the Astaire and commercial ballrooms. His Ceili band appeared on RTE Television and his first LP was titled Music of Ireland, released in 1960.
Brendan can be credited for keeping the local East Galway tunes alive from Tom Coen's "Christmas Eve" which for a long time was known as "Tommy Coen's Reel" to all his brother Martin's tunes that he learned to play by ear. Oddly enough it was his own compositions that have been lost through the years with only the resurgence of Stars and Stripes in more recent years.
From the Ceili Band, Brendan went on to found The Raindrops in 1964, one of Ireland's top showbands with whom he played lead guitar and accordion. He was presented with Galway Crystal Glass by the Alderman Robert Molloy, Mayor of Galway before touring the USA. In the early 70's The Raindrops relaunched the band as The Big Time.
In 1975 Brendan Mulhaire's Ceili band released an album called Ceili House which featured both Brendan, his father Tom and brother Martin's compositions. It was Brendan who coined the name of the famous tune "The Golden Keyboard." Numerous compilations of that LP are still in circulation today and is synonymous with traditional Irish Ceili.
Brendan can still be found playing throughout Galway today but more notably over the past 40 years for his accordion tuning for hundreds of musicians throughout the world.
Born in 1906 in Eyrecourt Co Galway, Tommy started playing music at the tender age of six. He won his first gold medal for violin as far back as 1927 and made broadcasts on RTE as early as 1935. He first came to prominence when he played his two-row Hohner accordion on Radio Eireann, then known as Athlone radio on numerous occasions back in the early 1930s. He not only played accordion but fiddle, flute, whistle and even the piano accordion. He traded his piano accordion for a Paolo Soprani B&C which he played and later passed on to the next generation of Mulhaire’s. He relocated his family in 1958 from Eyrecourt to Galway City where he composed the world renowned Tommy Mulhaire’s jig. At that time, there was a great revival taking place in traditional Irish music. Sensing a need for instruction, he decided to teach music in the parochial schools. This was to be his most rewarding experience--passing on the tradition. Indeed, he was still teaching up to the day he died in 1993.
He was a founder of Comhaltas in the East Galway area and went on to be county chairman. His motto “less talk, more music” went over well with fellow musicians. In the words of his nephew Johnny McEvoy, “whenever Tommy was met around that part of the country he was either coming from or going to some session or other with a whistle in his pocket, a fiddle under his arm and a tune in his heart.”