Colm is from County Galway in the West of Ireland. He describes the title of his latest album, 'Running Through Woods & Falling In Bogholes', as a short synopsis of his early childhood. Growing up on a farm in rural Ireland afforded great opportunities for adventure and exploration and it was only by good fortune that he and his siblings survived it without serious injury, or at all. It was here, also, that he first came in contact with Irish traditional music. Being number six of seven siblings, some of his earliest memories are of his older brothers and sister playing music in the house and attending weekly music classes. While neither of his parents played, they both had a deep love and understanding of the music and encouraged their children to pursue it for the enjoyment of it. Colm took up the tin-whistle at the age of seven and began attending classes with Paddy Ryan, the music teacher and fiddle player from Co. Roscommon. At the age of eleven he moved onto the banjo, which has been his main instrument ever since.
In 1994, at the age of 17, he moved to the city of Galway where his musical education continued apace. It was an informal but very effective education. In fact, his formal, academic education may have suffered at the hands of his less formal musical education. Galway at the time, had a very vibrant and diverse traditional music session scene, and Colm immersed himself into it, learning as much as he could from as many different sources as he could. It was a musical melting pot with musicians from all over the world, playing all manner of genres, living in the city. Add to this the myriad of visiting musicians passing through every year and you couldn't help but learn something new all the time. During this time he toured extensively in Europe including Germany, Poland and Norway along with tours in the US. While the tenor banjo has always been his main instrument, over the years he has added mandolin, bouzouki, tenor guitar and acoustic guitar to the list of instruments he calls upon to ply his trade.
In 2013 Colm released his first solo recording, 'The Space Between the Notes', to great acclaim. Accordion maestro Máirtín O'Connor said of it at the time, “I've always known Colm as a very accomplished and versatile banjo and mandolin player. On this recording, his playing is, as always, rich, full bodied and full of heart.... I wish him every success and hope that this recording captivates other listeners as much as it has done me”, while Tony Lawles of Tradconnect said, “There is an honesty to the music with arrangements that work very well. Colm’s strong rhythm and even style of play drives the tunes along.”
Baile an Salsa is a ten piece, Galway based band, that fuses Irish Traditional tunes and Salsa rhythms, and in 2016 Colm was asked to join the band to bolster the Trad section. While having strong roots in the Irish tradition, he has always had and interest in exploring different genres and rhythms and he jumped at the opportunity of joining this exciting project. In February 2017 the band toured the US for three weeks and later that year they went to Grouse Lodge Studio in Rosemount, Co. Westmeath to record the band's second album, 'Eriu'. The record was produced by five time Grammy award winner, Walter Flores, and was released to critical acclaim in February 2018.
More recently, he has had the pleasure of playing in a duo with Matt Keane, singer, guitar player and raconteur from Caherlistrane in Co. Galway. Before the whole world imploded in March 2020, the pair could seen playing from Dahoma to Kylebrack and from Monasteraden to Inisbofin, entertaining crowds with their mix of traditional, folk, country, rock 'n' roll and anything else you might be havin' yourself. Or as Matt calls it, 'Black Puddin' Music'. Matt's daughter, Orlaith is a renowned singer and also happens to be Colm's wife. They have been performing and touring together over the last number of years since the release of Orlaith's debut album, 'The Homeplace', in 2011.
Colm's latest project has been the release of his second solo album, 'Running Through Woods & Falling in Bogholes', in March 2021. It is 12 tracks of newly composed tunes on Tenor Banjo, Tenor Guitar and Mandolin.The tunes on the album were written over the space of two years but, were it not for two people in particular, it may not have come to pass at all. Colm wouldn't consider himself a very prolific composer, but had written a few tunes and played a couple of these at a concert in Kenmare a few years ago where their good friend, Derek Hickey, was in the audience. Derek went back stage after the concert and passed the comment to Colm that they were nice tunes and did he write much? Of course, he had to answer, 'No', but this got him to thinking, 'Why not?', and the next day he sat down and wrote the first of the barndances on this album. From there he continued to compose tunes with more regularity but without any particular plan in mind. That was until one day his wife, Orlaith, said to him, 'Why don't you record them?'. This got him to thinking again, and his focus became to write enough material for a full album. Colm aimed to keep the tunes as varied and diverse as possible while, at the same time, attempting to keep them within the traditional idiom. In October 2019, he completed the writing process but this is where the project came to a stand-still for a while. Then, as we all know too well, Covid-19 and lockdown hit Ireland in March 2020. It was a strange time but also a time to slow down, reflect and take stock of what is important to us. For Colm it was a time to spend with family, and in particular, he spent a lot of time exploring the surrounding woods with his 6 year old daughter, Ellie May. It was on one of these walks, while explaining to Ellie May about his own childhood of running around the woods at home, playing cowboys and Indians and jumping over bogholes, that the title of the album came to him. He decided that this was the perfect opportunity to finally put down these compositions. He had plenty of time and just needed a studio to record in, so, he set to work organising one at home. After that it was easy to put down his parts and, when restrictions were eased later on in the year, he got some good friends to come in and fill in the rest of what was needed. The resultant recording is one he is extremely proud of and is available for digital download or on CD.