Clannad is one of the finest bands
in the world. They popularized and, in a way, founded the style
that's now being referred to as Celtic music
Clannad (An abbreviation of "an clann as Dobhar," which means, "A clan from the land of Dore," in Gaelic) was formed by siblings Maire (pronounced "Moya"), Ciaran ("Keeron"), and Pol ("Paul") Brennan, children of a renowned Irish band leader, Leo Brennan, with their twin uncles, Padraig ("Poric") and Noel Duggan, in 1970. Maire had just finished her vocal schooling when she learned that her brothers and uncles had just won Sladagh '70, a music competition, with the band name of Clannad. Maire quickly joined the group after demonstrating her skills with voice and harp, and Clannad went on to win another competition, the Letterkenny Folk Festival,which earned then their first recording contract, with Philips Media.
Maire has commented on the early days, saying, "Even in Ireland, people said to us, 'Look, you're a good band. You've got great voices and everything, but stop singing those Gaelic songs. You're never going to get anywhere with them.' Now, we might have decided to take heed of that advice in '72 and '73 if we wanted to make some money, but we continued to work at it because it was something we loved." Their devotion and diligence would pay off over time.
Many of Clannad's songs are actually arranged or reworked versions of old Gaelic songs. Clannad spent considerable time traveling around Donegal and its outlying districts with a tape recorder, encouraging anyone they met in taverns to get up on stage and sing a favorite folk song, as well as any background on those songs that they could cull from their patrons.
Over the next 12 years, Clannad released six records before they made their first hit. In 1982, they were asked by Yorkshire television to write an original theme for a three-part television show, Harry's Game. Their song, simply titled, "The Theme From Harry's Game," was the first Gaelic song to ever reach the British pop charts, hitting the top 5, and earned the band several awards, including the Ivor Novello award for the Best Television Soundtrack category, and a nomination for the highly coveted British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award. However, they are more proud of the simple fact that the song brought awareness of their Gaelic song traditions to Britain and the world.
Two years later, they repeated their musical coup when they began composing music for the American television series, Robin of Sherwood. The album that featured the music from this show, Legend, earned them the award that eluded them earlier: the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award.
In 1992, Clannad was brought to greater American attention when their hit, The Theme From Harry's Game, was chosen for use in Patriot Games, the adaptation of the Tom Clancy novel. The concurrent American release of their newest album, Anam, caused Harry's Game to earn them the Billboard Music Award for "World Music Song of the Year." Their next album, Banba, released in 1993, earned them a Grammy nomination when it hit the top of the World Music chart with I will Find You, which was featured in the film, The Last of the Mohicans.
Clannad's greatest accolade came in 1996, when they were given the Irish Recorded Music Award, which is a lifetime achievement award from the Irish recording industry. This was awarded in recognition of the considerable contributions that their music has made in supporting and promoting Irish culture.
The band's composition has changed little over the years. Pol retired from Clannad to take up a solo recording career in 1989, and Brennan sister Enya joined the group briefly between 1980 and 1982, before launching her own highly successful career. Maire and Ciaran provide the majority of the group's vocals. Maire plays harp and keyboards; Ciaran plays the electric bass, double bass, guitar, and keyboards; Noel plays guitar; and Padraig plays acoustic guitar, harmonica, and mandolin.
I am privileged to own Legend, Anam, and Banba personally, and they have a cherished place in my music library. I would have more, but their other works are much harder to find. My favorite song of theirs is Banba Óir.
Clannad - 1973
Clannad 2 - 1975
Dulaman (Also called An Diolaim) - 1976
Crann Ull - 1978
Clannad In Concert - 1979
Fuaim - 1981
Magical Ring - 1982
Legend - 1984
Macalla - 1985
Sirius - 1988
Atlantic Realm - 1989
Angel and the Soldier Boy - 1990
Past Present - 1990
Anam - 1992
Banba - 1993
Themes - 1995
Lore - 1997
Rogha: The Best of Clannad - 1997
Landmarks - 1998
Celtic Collection - 1999
Clannad - Greatest Hits - 2000
Some information drawn (indirectly) from the Atlantic Records
webpage, at http://126.96.36.199/frames/frames.asp?page=artists_music/default.asp?artistID=61
and (directly) from The People Of Clannad, at www.jtwinc.com/clannad/clanwho.htm and various lesser webpages.