01 Dec 2021

Cathal keeps harmonicas in tune and stops waste as well

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WE are responsible for our environment.

WE are responsible for our environment.

That is now part of our common moral law.

We known that we must save energy, recycle our waste, basically renew what we have: don’t throw it away.

Dundalk musician Cathal Johnson seems to be in harmony with this moral code.

Last year Cathal received a Renewable and Environmental Award from County Louth Enterprise Board.

His business is recycling and renewing old or existing harmonicas.

He also does tuning repairs and maintenance.

To play his part in rubbing out a throwaway wasteful society, Cathal aims to fix these musical instruments and keep them in circulation rather than thrown in the bin.

“That’s my business,” he told us. “I recycle harmonicas for resale, repair existing ones and customize them for musicians.

“It’s a business that covers the USA, Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales and I hope to expand to Europe and Asia.
“It’s something I enjoy. I carry out customization of harmonicas for some of Ireland leading harmonica players such as Don Baker, Noel Battle, Ben Reel, SJ McArdle and Jim Fitting from America.
“And I’ve have performed myself all over the country.

“Not only do they get a harmonica back. It sounds better than when it was bought in the first place.

“This is because the reeds have been fine tuned and octave tuned.

“Or simply the harmonica is now set up for them to play to suit their own individual style or playing.

Cathal grew up playing various music genres on his guitar and harmonica.

He was appointed by Hohner Harmonica manufacturors as Service Repair for Hohner for the whole of Ireland.

He studied as a harmonica technician with harmonica guru Brendan Power.

In 2010 he took a degree in Applied Music specialising in solo performance playing Irish traditional dance music on diatonic and chromatic harmonicas. He plays and sings using harmonica rack with guitar, melodeon and accordion.

In my day, the harmonica rack was made famous by Bob Dylan, who learned how to use it from Woody Gutherie and other greats.

Cathal also studied harmonica under the tutelage of Rick Epping of “Pumpkin Head” and an inventor for Hohner Harmonicas.

He attended workshops with harmonica virtuosos Mick Kinsella and Rick Epping at the Miltown Malbay summer festival and the Murphy Brothers’ Festival, in honour of their father Phil Murphy, the well-known Irish harmonica player from Waterford.

Cathal has also successfully managed music events and street performances for the Louth County Council over the years.

He has also carried out fundraising for volunteer groups such as Louth Nature Trust.

He is now running workshops and lessons in harmonica playing and harmonica maintenance, repair and customization.

He also teaches guitar and how to play the guitar with the harmonica rack.

He is a serious musician who has acquired a vast amount of music theory and has good working knowledge of Irish traditional dance music, blues and contemporary musics.

Cathal is offering a free introductory lesson so if you are interested, you can get six one-hour lessons over six weeks for e200.

Contact: Cathal Johnson, Oriel Shared Services, Finnabair Industrial Estate, Coe’s Road, Dundalk.

Mobile: 083 - 4444980. Email:

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