Piper Seán McKiernan lives in Carna in Co. Galway, and is a native Irish speaker. His mother’s family home in Coillín, Carna, where he now lives, is situated in the heartland of the great sean nós and folklore tradition. Seán’s grandfather Pádraic Mac Con Iomaire was acknowledged as man with a huge store of native lore.
Seán McKiernan was actually born and reared in Boston. His early attempts at music included singing into the back of the radio, later on trying out the melodeon, before finally settling on the pipes.
Filled with curiosity about the pipes he was put in touch with Leo Rowsome, paid the princely sum of £10 for a practice set and began to teach himself. He returned to Ireland in 1965 having completed much of his education in the States.
At this time he was becoming familiar with Willie Clancy’s music from old Gael Linn 78 recordings. He became enthralled by Clancy’s piping and visited him in his home in Miltown Malbay many times. Willie Clancy undoubtedly became the biggest influence on his music and a close friend and a mentor.
Nowadays Seán McKiernan divides his time between Carna and Cork, where he teaches classical piano in the Cork School of Music. In recent years he has performed at Tionóls at home and in the States. He has performed in the Pipers Club in Dublin and is regarded by many as one of the great living pipers. He won a TG4 Traditional Music Award in 2010.