Clannad hail from Dore, a townland around 3 miles from my home here in Donegal. The band’s original members included siblings Ciaran, Pol and Maire Brennan together with their uncles – twins Noel and Padraig Duggan.
Ciaran, Pol and Maire’s parents Maire (known as Baba), and Leo had passed their gift for music to their family – Baba was a music teacher in a local school, and Leo led The Slieve Foy Showband.
The family opened a world famous pub in nearby Meenaleck back in 1968 called Leo’s Tavern. If you ever pay a visit, you will see many of Clannad and Enya’s musical awards adorning the walls.
Enya ( a sister to Maire, Pol and Ciaran) was a member of Clannad from 1980 -1982, before pursuing a successful solo career.
The Band’s Journey
Clannad’s debut album “Clannad” was released in 1973.
They had released five further albums by 1982, when they rose to international fame with the theme from a television drama called “Harry’s Game”. The song won them an Ivor Novello Award in 1982. It remains the only UK hit single sung in Irish.
You can listen to the theme music HERE
On Friday 27th October, I was blessed to see Clannad live for the second time. They played to a sold out audience in our local theatre Amharclann Ghaoth Dobhair.
My excitement reached epic proportions as I watched the stage, bathed in ethereal light:
Finally, the band arrived onstage – the first time in the Amharclann for 41 years. Maire’s son Paul and daughter Aisling joined them onstage.
Sadly, one original band member was missing – Padraig Doogan passed away on 9th August 2016. Leo Brennan died on 22 June 2016, making it a very poignant performance.
The stage lights provided a rainbow of colours, as Clannad mesmerised us with Irish songs “Thios Chois na Tra Domh” which you can watch HERE and “Dulaman” – which begins: “Dulaman na binne bui” (Seaweed of the yellow cliff…), plus “Down by the Salley Gardens,” with words from a poem by William Butler Yeats…
My favourite Clannad songs include the theme tune from “Robin of Sherwood” screened 1984-86, which won them a BAFTA award for best original TV music. You can listen HERE
“I Will Find You” – from the movie “The Last of The Mohicans,” in 1993. You can listen to it HERE
“Newgrange” found HERE
It was magical to hear ALL my favourites sung LIVE.
The band have recorded a total of 16 studio albums and 3 live albums. In addition to the BAFTA and Ivor Novello Award they won Billboard World Music Song of the Year 1992 with “Ri na Gruinne,” a Grammy award in 1999 for Best New Age Album “Landmarks,” plus two Lifetime Achievement Awards – in 2007 from Meteor music Awards, and in 2014 from BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
Many of their songs have an otherworldly quality, with beautiful harmonies akin to a choir of angels. I could have listened to them forever…
Sadly, this VERY special evening came to an end.
I bought a beautiful CD recorded on 29th January 2011 at Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin. It includes 19 songs and ALL my favourites. I feel incredibly blessed.
Brigid P. Gallagher
Memoir: “Watching the Daisies – Life lessons on the Importance of Slow” is available from Amazon and all good online book stores.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/r5GCjaetgZk