Music is something that has been prominent throughout history and Ireland, dating back to 921BC. It has covered many genres and told many different stories, but today I want to introduce you to an Irish musical group that I love.
These lads are some of the smartest, funniest, and most talented group of lads I have ever had the pleasure to meet, and get to know. I am talking about the world renowned group, Celtic Thunder.
It was about 5 years ago, around St. Patrick’s Day, I was home with my parents and my mom had been clicking around on TV, when she stopped on our local PBS channel because she heard beautiful music. She called up to me, and as I entered our family room I saw on the TV a handsome Irishman singing. It was Irish tenor, Emmet Cahill, singing This is the Moment, from the Broadway show Jekyll & Hyde. It has been from that moment, that I have loved Celtic Thunder.
Each of the lads brings something different to the table, and from the groups conception in 2007 there have been a total of 9 principal singers. While some of the principals have moved on, there has always been a place for them in the hearts of the fans, or Thunderheads as we are called. The principal singers have consisted of Paul Byrom, Damian McGinty, Keith Harkin, Ryan Kelly, Neil Byrne, Colm Keegan, George Donaldson, Emmett O’Hanlon, and Emmet Cahill.
In 2007 the world was introduced to 6 singers or various ages. These artists were George Donaldson of Glasgow Scotland, Ryan Kelly from Moy in County Tyrone Ireland, Neil Byrne of County Wicklow, Ireland, Keith Harkin from Derry in Northern Ireland, Paul Byrom from Dublin, Ireland, and Damien McGinty also from Derry in Northern Ireland. After filming their first concert special The Show at the Helix in Dublin in August 2007, the lads went on tour in the US in 2008.
As the show grew, much like other groups, the singers changed but the ideal behind the group never faltered. Since that original show in 2007, we have met and grown to love more singers, Neil Byrne, Emmet Cahill, Colm Keegan, and the newest vocalist to join the group, Emmett O’Hanlon.
In every Celtic Thunder show they cover everything from traditional Irish folk tunes to Broadway show tunes, soft rock, and classical crossover songs. All while having a grand time on stage, or having the craic as they all refer to it.
With 13 albums (the most recent Celtic Thunder Legacy – released February 2016) and 11 live performances (also featuring Legacy as the newest), the biggest advance with Celtic Thunder, has been it’s fan base. Since their premiere show in 2007, the Celtic Thunder fan base, or Thunderheads as we are called, has grown ten fold spanning all of the US, and branching out to Australia, and other countries all over the world.
From shows, and tour date to sailing the high seas in the Caribbean with the lads, Celtic Thunder engages everyone that learns about it. I have loved how connected this group has made me feel to the history of Ireland, and the love of music that it gives to anyone willing to listen to the stories they tell.
Now, I have been working on this blog post for a few days now, and to me, it seemed fitting for me to post this today, as for us Thunderheads, today is a day that few of us will ever forget. As I had mentioned in the names of the principal singers from the original group, George Donaldson was with Celtic Thunder since it’s conception in 2007. Many of the lads have put out solo albums and done solo tours, and like them George did the same. He had 3 CDs (The White Rose, The World In My Mind, and The Road), and did countless solo shows all over. Ask any Thunderhead, and I can almost guarantee you they have a story that involves George. Whether it’s a funny story, a sweet story, there is usually a story when it comes to Big George. He was the only Scotsman in the group, and the only one married to a beautiful lady with a beautiful daughter.
I’m sure at this point, if you are just learning about Celtic Thunder from my post your wondering, why this day is one that is those who are fans and members of Celtic Thunder will never forget, and I will tell you, as it is a sad special for us. Two years ago today, George passed away, and for those who say, well that was two years ago time heals everything, you’re right it does, but this will take a little more time, as George was a big part of our lives, and he shaped how some of us look at the world.
Even though George is gone, and we miss him everyday, we know that he is still there, singing in our minds, our hearts and our spirits. We love you and miss you George <3.
So, this St. Patrick’s Day, or even during Irish Heritage Month, sit down, and just listen to these lads sing, and tell stories that can change what you think about the way music fills our lives. Check them out, online – facebook, twitter, youtube – you name it and you will be able to find them. You can even see them on your local PBS station, especially around this time of year.
I hope you have enjoyed learning a little but about this group that I love, and I hope when you check them out you love them too.
Happy Irish Heritage Month, and remember “Tá ceol leigheas don anam briste” (music is medicine for the broken soul).