Hermitage Green: Folk-pop quintet are Limerick to the core

by James Hendicott

Lively Limerick Folk-Pop five-piece Hermitage Green were once very much a bar band, playing roughshod trad sessions and covers.

They evolved fast, and this Summer they’ll return to their city’s most star-studded venue, as they head to St John’s Castle to headline shows not once, but twice.

It’s been a slow but steady rise for the band, who Dan Murphy recalls took some time to come into their own.

“We didn’t take it that seriously to start with, and we weren’t that good,” he laughs.

“We had a bit of a jam in the pub and it kind of kicked off into something regular for us, really.

“Over time, word got around and people started coming to see us. It was all very relaxed for a while.

“We started taking it more seriously a few years ago.”

Today, ahead of their twin iconic shows at St John’s, Murphy is slightly in awe of where they’ve landed, with international tours and large Irish headline shows the norm for a band often compared to Mumford and Sons.

“We’ve come a long way,” he explains. “Those Limerick shows are very special to us.

“It’s home, and while you’re on stage you have this view right along the river, so it feels really special – not that we get a lot of chance to look at it.

“We get to see the world as a band, and that’s a great experience.”

In tribute to Limerick, Murphy says it’s likely the band will revive their tribute to The Cranberries, performing covers that first emerged after Dolores O’Riordan passed away last year.

Dolores’ death was an emotional time for Murphy, and has says the exploration of her music gone down well around the world, from Dubai to the UK.

“We used to do a lot of covers and put them on YouTube, so it was a bit of a return to that,” he laughs.

“It was very emotional for Limerick, though, I think people were really affected by her loss.

“It’s pretty challenging, working on something like The Cranberries music, because it’s just so perfect to start out with.

“We are much more focused on our own stuff, now, though. We’re working on new stuff, but there are a lot of live shows over the Summer, too, and we love those.

“There is a lot of new material on the way, though.”

Hermitage Green are a long way from their roots, then, which still sit in that Limerick bar where they used to play raucous, stumbling shows in the corner on wild weekend nights, while brothers Dan and Barry Murphy took sport far more seriously than the band.

Barry was a regular starter for Munster rugby at the time, even notching a try against a touring All Blacks side, before injury forced his retirement.

Dan was into combat sports, while the other three members of the band also have serious sporting connections.

“Sport is still important to our lives, but not in the way it used to be,” Murphy laughs.

“It was always a bigger thing for my brother anyway, I was just an amateur.”

The band, who are going strong eight years after Barry’s retirement from Munster duties, have become a highly professional outfit in their own right.

And occasionally, connections being what they are, the old references jump back out.

New single, Heaven, is out now, but go back two years and you can spot Paul O’Connell in the video that accompanies a live studio ‘workout’ performance of their then EP.

It pays to have connections, but there’s far more to Hermitage Green.

After all, it pays better to play a locally-connected form of joyous, breakout folk-rock.

Hermitage Green play Kaleidoscope Festival in Blessington this weekend, followed by shows at the Irish Open, Lisdoonvarna and Indiependence.

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