Singer and songwriter, P. J. Murrihy, looks back on a music career stretching over 40 years and still going strong. The artist took time out to discuss his career with Con McGrath.
The list of people P. J. Murrihy has written songs for reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the Irish country music scene, names like TR Dallas, Mick Flavin, Larry Cunningham, John Hogan, Kathy Durkin, The Duets (Tommy & Kathleen Moran), Brendan Shine, Seamus Moore, Margo, Patrick O’Sullivan, Foster and Allen, Nathan Carter, Michael English and Daniel O’Donnell.
With ten albums to his own name, P. J. has most recently penned a song dedicated to the memory of Donal Walsh, the Kerry teenager whose anti-suicide message touched the hearts and minds of the nation.
The song entitled ‘Don’t Leave Behind a Broken Heart’, went to No 1 in the Irish Country on iTunes 12 hours after being released. It remained at the number one spot throughout the Christmas season.
The song, written by P.J., also features Nathan Carter and Cherish the Ladies, with backing vocals from P.J’s daughters, Moira and Maeve Murrihy. Another song written by P.J., currently making waves in the charts is, ‘The Band is Back in Town’, brilliantly performed by singing star Michael English.
P. J. says of his career: “I am still living on the home farm with my family.”
Humbly ignoring his many musical accomplishments since his birth on the ocean side at Shandrum, Mullagh, Co. Clare.
Discussing his childhood in Clare, P.J. said: “I’m back in the West where they used to say that ‘if you threw a stone, you’d hit a musician’. My mother and father loved music, but they never played. My mother was a good singer, so were my uncles, and I had relations that played. You know, I often thought that if they had come up in a different time, they’d probably be singing and playing themselves.”
A lover of Gaelic football, P.J. played minor and Under-21 for Clare, as well as playing for 17 years with his own GAA Club Kilmurray-Ibrickane. P.J. is a farmer, who has introduced a Japanese breed of cattle known as Wagyu.
This breed of cattle is now becoming the most popular breed in the world because of it’s tender marbled meat. For such an established performer P. J.’s music career began so simply, as he says himself: “I got interested in music from listening to the radio, to the Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners and other folk bands.”
When he was asked to join the Kilfenora Band, he put all the songs he had learned to good use and never looked back. Some years later he formed a new band with Michael Sexton and Jimmy Ward and played all over County Clare. P.J. came to national attention in 1989 when he recorded ‘Pat Murphy’s Meadow’.
The song spent many weeks in the Irish charts and as a result he became a household name in Ireland and beyond. After many years playing with the Bannermen, P.J. joined up with Roscommon’s own Seamus Shannon. Having first met in 1993, the pair have since played venues all over the world, and have collaborated on two albums together.