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A Day in the Life: Sal Heneghan


MAKING THE MOST OF NOW Sal Heneghan hasn’t let lockdown get in the way of expanding her musical horizons.

Name: Sal Heneghan
Age: 20
Lives: Castlebar
Occupation: Student/Musician

I’m currently in Third Year in University of Limerick doing Performing Arts, but obviously I am at home at the moment due to Covid. It’s a pity to be missing out on the time in college but we all know the most important things at the moment is getting control of this horrible virus.
I love my course, we have some fantastic teachers in it. I have Siobhan Peoples, who is Tommy Peoples’ daughter, as my fiddle teacher. She’s just class and so musical.
We get loads of classes on the harp and the fiddle and you can also take up optional classes. One semester I did Irish dancing, another semester I did African drumming, it’s just a great course to explore further. You get to know loads of people in the small circle that is Irish traditional music, so it’s just really, really nice.
At the moment, I really miss meeting people, to be honest. Living on-campus in Limerick is just so magical. Every Wednesday we’d go to the Hurlers, which is a local pub, and we’d all play a few tunes together. I just really miss the socialising of it all.
Last semester I was actually on Co-op – which is our work experience semester. I was really hoping to go touring and travelling but when the pandemic came that all got cancelled. I was just at home then but then I was hoping to move to Inisbofin and go gigging and working in a bar over there for a few months, but the day before I was meant to go it actually got cancelled as well. So I have just been home and playing away and doing my album as well.
I’m still teaching music online so normally I’ll get up in the morning, have a bit of breakfast and get the room ready for teaching online. I have eight or nine students that I’ve been teaching for a number of years now so we do have ‘the chats’ before the lesson and then I teach them a few tunes.
When I’m finished teaching, me and my Mom go for a little walk, just a normal routine. I’m very lucky that I’m learning a new instrument at the moment – a five-string electric violin that my parents got me for Christmas. It’s been challenging but it’s been class. It’s electric so that’s even cooler.
I had never experienced online music teaching before, or even attempted online lessons myself, so it was totally new. At the start, it was very frustrating because when you’re teaching the harp you can’t see all of your fingers on an iPhone, so that was a disaster.
After a while I started using a laptop and asking my students to use a laptop so you can see everything. With delays online it was a bit frustrating as well, but you figure out the best spots in the house to go to for Wifi!
Now, it’s actually very convenient because it suits a lot of people to do online lessons if they have very busy schedules. I’m going to move to Galway this semester and I won’t be coming home for a number of weeks because of lockdown, so people have decided to stick online with the lessons, which is fantastic really.

Album release
When I released my album, because of Covid I was thinking: ‘Oh God, how will I be able to sell any albums now?’ When I realised I couldn’t have a launch – I was hoping to have one in Inisbofin as well – I was thinking outside the box and decided to just make a website - That was actually a great idea, because it has sold a few more copies than it would otherwise.
The name of the album is simply ‘SAL’. It’s a traditional Irish album of my style of music with some of my favourite tunes on it. There are ten tracks on the CD and I play the fiddle and the harp on it. I also have two songs on the album. My family feature on it as well. My Mom plays fiddle, my sister Kate plays the fiddle, my sister Maggie plays harp and my brother Paddy sings and plays the uileann pipes. It was a little bit of a family project. I’m really happy with how it turned out. It was a great project to be doing when I had nothing else to do last year, so I’m really happy I did do it and I’m really happy with the outcome.
I was meant to be going on Erasmus to Sweden this week, but that also got cancelled! I was really looking forward to learning a new culture and learning Swedish music, but I’m excited for the next chapter of moving to Galway. I’m looking forward to hopefully meeting new people and getting to know the place when things open up.
The last time I had a proper music session was just before everything happened with Covid in March. I got to go to Belgium with two of my friends and do a gig there, because we have close friends who work in the European school over there. It’s been way too long!
All the family were home for Christmas so we actually had the nicest little session in the sitting room on Christmas Day. We were singing and having the craic and playing away, so that was nice that we could all do that.
During lockdown I’ve started going on walks, which I’d never done before, which is great. I try and read as much as I can. I’m reading a lovely book at the moment called ‘A Man Called Ove’ that’s actually based in Sweden. Me and my family have also been playing loads of board games, 30 seconds, Pursuit, all of them! Covid really has changed things for everyone.

In conversation with Oisín McGovern

Quickfire questions

If money was no object, what would you do all day?
Travel travel travel!
Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?
I’m a vegetarian.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
I ate caviar when I was younger because I didn’t know what it was!
Where’s your favourite place in the world?
New York City
What makes you angry?
When my harp strings snap!
Your first hero?
Emma Watson

Name three things that are always in your fridge?
Milk, jam and cheese

What makes you nervous?
Moving anywhere away from home
Favourite TV show?
That’s a tough one, either Friends or Love/Hate
Most famous person you’ve met?
Cillian Murphy!
What do you miss most about being a kid?
Making up plays and musicals with my sister Maggie!
What’s your most prized possession?
It would have to be my harp and fiddle

Best advice you ever got?
Never refuse money!
Describe yourself in three words?
Conscientious, musical and fun
How do you unwind?
Yoga. I find it great.

ILH 40084-21-02 Hastings Benefit MPU v4