Cork sean-nós singer: "Seeing other people happy is so infectious"

The Masters of Tradition Festival gets underway in West Cork from today. Nell Ní Chróinín will be taking part in the five day event
Cork sean-nós singer: "Seeing other people happy is so infectious"

Nell Ní Chróinín, who appears at The Masters of Tradition Festival.

TELL us about yourself; 

I’m Nell Ní Chróinín and I am sean-nós singer from Ballingeary. I have been singing from a very young age and I am very fortunate to have had a very successful singing career to date. 

I was awarded Gradam Ceoil Amhránaí na Bliana from TG4 in 2012 and won the prestigious Corn Ui Riada competition at the Oireachtas in 2014. 

In 2016 I joined the band Danú as their main singer and am really enjoying getting to travel the world with them to perform at venues and festivals. 

I am also a primary school teacher so when I’m not touring or performing I teach in Gaelscoil Osraí in Kilkenny city, where I am currently living.

Where were you born?


Where do you live?

Kilkenny city.


My parents Síle and Teddy are still living at home in Ballingeary. I have three wonderful sisters Julia May, Katie and Mary Ann. The in my house at the moment, My husband Mick and I welcomed our son, Páidí , into the world in October.

Best friend?

I couldn’t pick just one! I have a really strong core group of friends from home since we were in primary school. We are all still really close and all though we’re scattered around the world we will always make the effort to meet up and keep in contact. 

I also have made such great buddies through music and I love meeting them at festivals and catching up at various events.

Earliest childhood memory?

Going to sleepovers at friends houses’ or even to my grandmother’s house and always waking in the middle of the night bawling crying because I always wanted to go home! Didn’t take me long to get over that, you couldn’t keep me at home now days!!

Person you most admire?

My parents. Both of them are such an inspiration to my sisters and I . They gave us the best upbringing and we are all really good friends now as adults. I love getting home to spend time with them. And they are the best grandparents to my son, nieces and nephew.

Person who most irritates you?

He is the person I love the most on this earth, but equally the person who irritates me the most. My husband. I’m sure there are a lot of married women who understand what I mean ! He’s the best in the world. But if I hear ‘Have you seen my keys’ or ‘Where is my wallet’ or ’I can’t find my…' once a day, I get asked a million times a day. But he’s a keeper behind it all.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

Although, it technically wasn’t a holiday as I was working, I have to say the most recent tour I did in the States with Danú was one I’ll never forget. We went in February for over  four weeks travelling all over the country. But was made it for me is that Mick and Páidí (only 4months at the time) came with us. Although there were challenging times during the tour (mainly an airline losing our buggy! Shout out to Delta airlines!) 

I was so grateful that the two boys were able to come on the road with us and get to see what I do when I’m on tour. 

It was Mick’s first time on tour too and I was so lucky to have him there and could relax knowing Páidí was in safe hands while I was on stage. Páidí didn’t seem too bothered by life of the road, so who knows , he might come out on tour again!

Favourite TV programme?

I am very bad for watching TV programs. But one I really enjoyed watching was a documentary series recorded around Cuil Aodh /Baile Bhuirne area years ago which was aired on TG4 late last year called ‘Ceol na Talún’. It is still available on the player. Would highly recommend.

Favourite radio show?

An Saol Ó Dheas, RnaG every week day from 12.10-1.

Your signature dish if cooking?

Thai Fish Yellow Curry or else a Chicken tagliatelle in mushroom and cream sauce.

Favourite restaurant?

Royal Spice Indian restaurant in Kilkenny is delish!

Last book you read?

Sineád O Connor’s autobiography. Really enjoyed it.

Best book you read?

A thousand Splendid Suns.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

Dave Sheridan and Brian Hughes recorded a mighty album recently called However long the day. Well worth a listen.

Favourite song?

It varies depending on the mood I’m in or what I’m listening to or if I’m preparing for an upcoming gig…but at the moment I’m loving Little Black Bird by Small Town Jones.

One person you would like to see in concert?

Some singers I wish I had the opportunity to hear live are John Connell, Péataí Tadhg Pheig, Cait Ní Mhúineacháin, Darach Ó Cathain and Nicolas Tóibín. All fantastic singers and it’s so great we have recordings of them and their voices…but you can’t ever beat the real thing!

Morning person or night owl?

Morning person.

Your proudest moment:

Probably having Páidí. Watching him grow everyday is very rewarding especially now that he is that little bit more independent and his character is starting to come through. 

He is going to keep us on our toes but I am very proud of the fact that he’s ours.

Spendthrift or saver?

Spendthrift, unfortunately!

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

I would love if Kilkenny was closer to Cork!! I think that would be a huge improvement for the county! And would save me loads on fuel!

What makes you happy?

Spending time with family and friends , singing and performing, listening to good live music , going to sessions or festivals and eating good food and being by the sea. Seeing other people happy is also so infectious. 

I love when other people are happy . You can’t beat that.

How would you like to be remembered?

I think I’d like people to think of me as a genuine and down to earth person who lived life to the full. That’s it.

What else are you up to at the moment?

The summer has been great. It’s great to have festivals and concerts back at full capacity again. Had some really nice gigs over the summer. So just relaxing now before being back to school for a few weeks and then hopefully on the tour again.


Masters of Tradition Festival have announce their 20th Anniversary Programme, running in Bantry, West Cork from August 24 to 28. For a full programme see

Meanwhile Nell will also perform with Ireland’s leading traditional band, Danú, in Triskel Arts Centre 8pm Saturday 1 October as part of the 43rd Cork Folk Festival. More at

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more