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Clannad – In a Life time


Clannad – In a Life time  – Gary Kelly meets with the famous Celtic Artistes before their performance last Sunday in the Olympia Theatre

Last Sunday night was as nights go a pretty good one. I was treated to one of the best live performances I’ve ever experienced and not only that but I got to hang out with these brilliant performers.

To be honest, there not exactly strangers, as we had worked together in the past on the development of a feature film ‘Setanta: Legend of Cu Cuchulain’ and kept in touch since. With their hectic touring schedule we really only get a chance to catch up every now and again, but every time we do the crack is ninety.  I am talking about the one and only Clannad.

I met Paraig and Noel Duggan outside the Olympia theatre shortly after their sound check and off we headed off for a cup of coffee. Along the way we were joined by Ian Parker (The Hollies) and before long we were having the crack in the little coffee shop on Crow Street. As we sat there, I was reminded just how normal these guys are and before long it was like we had last met a couple of days ago.

Earlier this year, Clannad released their new Album “Nadur” (Nature) and shortly after, received a life-time achievement award from the BBC at the Royal Albert Hall.

 I had already purchased a copy of Nadur and was so glad that they had the same opinion of it as myself “it was like we went back to the beginning with this one” said Paraig. “It really is Clannad in its purest form” Noel added.  Of course, you do not have to talk to Clannad to know their enthusiasm for the album, it is right there in the piece.

Clannad was formed for the national song contest in Limerick in 1970. When only weeks before Paraig and Noel had to convince Moya, Enya, Ciaran and Paul to enter. They not only entered but won it and with that signed their first record contract and so Clannad was born. Clannad is made up from the Duggan’s and the Brennan’s but don’t let the names fool you, they are all the one family, hence the name “Clannad”, which is of course, Irish for the word family.

They come from Gweedore in Donegal and have a close attachment with Tory Island, where when they were young, they would visit for its Ceili sessions. So when they eventually created their own brand of music, it was no surprise that it was a mix of the old songs and stories from Tory with the ghostly coast of Gweedore and as Colm Meaney would say, a bit of “Celtic Mysticism” was born.

It wasn’t long before they were asked to score a film for television. It was a little known film about the troubles in the north of Ireland called ‘Harry’s Game’. The release of ‘Harry’s Game’ was a game changer and soon afterward Hollywood was knocking on the door with other big screen hits like “Last of the Mohicans”.

As I sit here with these men sipping coffee hours before their performance, I can’t help but be taken back by how much they have achieved and yet how unassuming and normal they are!

So if you do get a chance to go along and see them, it truly is a once in a life time experience.

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