Derek Hickey hails from Adare, Co. Limerick. Both his grandfathers played fiddle and his own musical career began at ten years of age when his uncle left an accordion in the family home. Derek progressed to dance tunes within weeks though he didn’t begin lessons – under the tutelage of Dónal de Barra – until he was 12.
Derek’s professional career began three years later when he joined the Shannonside Céilí Band. Formed by the Liddy family, the band was particularly popular in the north of the country. It also toured extensively in England and made regular trips throughout Europe.
In 1991 Frankie Gavin asked Derek to join him for regular sessions in his then leased hotel in Kinvara, Co. Galway. One year later, at just 18 years of age, Derek joined Arcady, Johnny ‘Ringo’ McDonagh’s band. Frances Black, Brendan Larrisey, and Patsy Broderick were also members of the band at that time, and many other household names have played in the line-up including Sharon Shannon, Cathal Hayden, and Gerry O’Connor.
In 1995 Derek joined the legendary De Dannan alongside Frankie Gavin and toured with De Dannan until 2003. He spent some time teaching as a button accordion tutor on the BA Irish Music and Dance at the Irish World Academy. Along with teaching, he returned to performing with De Dannan, and he continues to tour nationally and internationally.