Clannad are still at one with nature

Alan Owens


Alan Owens

Clannad, coming to Limerick for their first gig in many moons next Wednesday at UCH
MOYA Brennan is casting her mind back through the sands of time over a more than 40 year career at the forefront of Irish music and founder member of Clannad.

MOYA Brennan is casting her mind back through the sands of time over a more than 40 year career at the forefront of Irish music and founder member of Clannad.

The Gweedore songstress is trying to remember if the group ever played in Limerick during their storied history.

“You know what? I do remember know, we played in a very old cinema there that was a venue. Was it the Savoy?” she wonders.

“We did one gig there, but we are talking a very long time ago. I remember it because you could trip over the floor! It has just come to me right now.”

Clannad gigs are an exceptional rarity both in these parts and anywhere else for that matter, with the group - siblings Moya, Ciarán, Pól and uncles Noel and Pádraig Duggan - taking a break of some ten years before reuniting in 2007.

Last year’s album was the first studio recording since 1998, marking 40 years of the group.

“It was a break,” she says, “you can imagine, we were playing together since the late 60s in my father’s pub. We didn’t say ‘let’s get a band together’, we just enjoyed what we were doing.

“After 17 albums and tours, you can get tired, and we didn’t want to do it for the sake of doing it, because we were never a band like that.”

They are currently on a tour that has taken them to New Zealand, Australia, America and Europe before it finally finishes in the UK and Ireland. Clannad are largely credited with creating Celtic music, which they at least can take credit for popularising, but they boast so many diverse influence points.

It was recording the theme for Harry’s Game in 1982 - the first UK number one sung entirely in Irish - and the soundtrack to Robin of Sherwood that catapulted them to international fame.

“We did our first album in 73 and had six albums made of Gaelic songs, rearranged by us, up until we were asked to write for Harry’s Game,” says Moya.

“In Ireland we were literally laughed at singing Gaelic songs so we headed to Europe and that is really what kept the band going. When Harry’s Game happened, the great thing about it breaking internationally was that it was with something we really felt strong about and believed in.

“It was very significant the fact that we didn’t write it as a hit. It was the exposure that we got and it had such a different sound - we didn’t realise we did, it was just something that developed out of being from Donegal, the Gaelic language, the vibe between the family, the singing and harmonies, and it was a lovely surprise.

“Of course, it changed our lives because before that we were scrounging around to see how we would get money together to make albums, and all of a sudden there was big record companies knocking on our door. It was amazing.”

Of the ‘Celtic sound’, she says: “People relate to it in that way and we were never afraid of exploring it either because we had created such a strong root sound where we learned from the old songs and how they were written.”

Fittingly, the new album is called Nadur, and Moya says the process of recording and playing live has been very natural.

“It has all been very natural. We feel that it gives a real wide range of what Clannad are about.”

Clannad play in the UCH on Wednesday, October 29. We have two pairs of tickets to giveaway, simply email with ‘Clannad’ giveaway in the subject line and include contact details.