Cathal Hayden was born in July of 1963, in the village of the Rock, Co. Tyrone, an area immersed in traditional music. The third in a family of eight, he was born into a deep musical background. His first instrument was a tenor banjo before progressing on to fiddle.
Cathal’s father was a great follower of the All-Ireland Fleadh and during the mid 1970’s, he brought Cathal all around Ireland to play and learn from other musicians. Cathal competed at this annual event from the age 12, right up in to his early twenties, winning the title in both banjo and fiddle many times. It was here that he learned many new tunes and began absorbing other styles. Cathal recorded his first solo album, Handed Down in 1980, with Arty McGlynn on guitar. McGlynn went on to produce Cathal’s second solo offering, the self-titled Cathal Hayden, in the summer of 1999.
Cathal’s first step into stardom began in 1988, with his participation in the band Arcady. In 1991, after leaving Arcady, Cathal formed the group Four Men and a Dog. Their first album, Barking Mad, became the first Irish band to receive the Folks Roots award for best album.
Pursuing a solo career after Four Men and a Dog, Cathal collaborated with other musicians to play at events all around the world. Besides Arty McGlynn, he formed numerous alliances with the renowned accordionist Mairtin O’Connor, piano accordion maestro Alan Kelly, Bothy band piper Paddy Keenan, and singer/guitarist Seamie O’Dowd to name a few. In 2002 he reunited with Four Men and a Dog to produce Maybe Tonight, which re-established their position as one of the most successful Irish music band.
In addition to his many musical collaborations, Cathal has been involved in the Marie Jones play, The Blind Fiddler. He has helped arrange a score with the musical partnership of Máirtín O’Connor and Cathal Synnott (piano & keyboards) and played live on stage at each performance. It has played to audiences in the Lyric Theatre and the Grand Opera House, in Belfast and in the “Assembly Rooms” at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He has featured on numerous national televisions and radio broadcasts, both in a solo and group capacity.
This is Cathal’s second appearance at the O’Flaherty Retreat; in 2015 he was invited to be the advanced fiddle instructor and returns this year to teach banjo.
Instructor – Fiddle, Tenor Banjo