Interviews no image

Published on April 4th, 1996 | by Gerry Galipault


Clannad’s Storied Family Tree

Journalists not well versed on the history of Clannad have made the mistake of assuming the acclaimed Irish quartet became an overnight sensation with “The Theme From Harry’s Game” in 1992.

The thought amuses singer-harpist Maire Brennan.

First off, Clannad was formed in 1970 when Brennan, brother Ciaran and uncles Noel and Padraig Duggan took their traditional Irish songs from the stage of the Brennan family pub in Donegal and entered the Letterkenny Folk Festival. They won, and first prize was a recording contract with Philips.

They have since recorded countless albums, some in their native Gaelic and others in English. Their breakthrough came in 1982 when they were commissioned to write original music for a three-part TV movie in Britain. The song title: “The Theme From Harry’s Game.”

Fast-forward 10 years and the same song appeared on the “Patriot Games” soundtrack, became an instant hit on VH1 and fueled gold-plated sales for Clannad’s “Anam” and “Banba” albums.

Some overnight sensation.

“What’s really funny is that when ‘Harry’s Game’ happened again,” Maire Brennan said recently from her Dublin home, “people would say, ‘Oh, you must be influenced by Enya.’ Uh, sorry, but ‘Harry’s Game’ was 14 years ago, and they didn’t realize she’s my sister and that she was part of the group in the early ’80s.

“After finding that out, journalists who may have come in with three pages of questions have to start all over again.”

That’s fine with Brennan; Clannad has defied the odds for 26 years. Their latest Atlantic Records album, “Lore,” is No. 1 on Billboard’s world music chart. Produced by Hugh Padgham (Genesis, The Police, XTC) and Ciaran Brennan, “Lore” finds the group continuing a decades-long journey of fusing traditional elements with modern sounds.

” ‘Lore’ is related to storytelling or proverbs or anything that comes the cultural background,” Maire Brennan said. “We never know what we’re going to end up with when we go into the studio. There were a lot of songs when we went in, some songs that didn’t happen, and we were very picky about what went on the album.

“It ended up that there were five full Gaelic songs and some Gaelic in choruses on the other tracks. I think it proves that we are comfortable with Gaelic. That’s what we went for, what we really felt was close to us.”

Non-Irish listeners may not understand Clannad’s lyrics, but they are attracted to the group’s beautiful, ethereal melodies.

“We get letters from fans who just want to relate to us how much the music means to them and how it benefits their life,” Brennan said. “They tell us there’s a lot of soul and spiritual feeling in it. It’s extraordinary. I think it’s great that we’re doing something we love, that we’re always experimenting with sounds and that it’s keeping our interest in it. Hence, that’s probably why we’re still together after all these years.”

Tags: ,

About the Author

Gerry Galipault debuted Pause & Play online in October 1997. Since then, it has become the definitive place for CD-release dates — with a worldwide audience.

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑


    Entertainment Weekly names Pause & Play one of “the 100 greatest Web sites”

  • Album Release Dates

    * Release dates are subject to change due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

    April 16, 2021 » Paul McCartney, Eric Church, Greta Van Fleet, The Offspring, NEEDTOBREATHE, Fitz, Escape the Fate, Engelbert Humperdinck, Saint Raymond, London Grammar, Andy Stott, Midland, Liquid Tension Experiment, Julia Stone, etc.

    April 23, 2021 » Tom Jones, Peter Frampton, Todd Snider, Dinosaur Jr., Sir Sly, Dumpstaphunk, Steve Cropper, Imelda May, Tracy Lawrence, The Immediate Family, Justin Moore, Pærish, etc.

    April 30, 2021 » MONSTA X, Julia Michaels, Marianne Faithfull, Mick Fleetwood & Friends, Thomas Rhett, Birdy, MercyMe, The Dropkick Murphys, Guided By Voices, Shovels & Rope, Teenage Fanclub, The Coral, Royal Blood, Róisín Murphy, Miloš Karadaglić, Tony Allen, etc.

    May 7, 2021 » Miranda Lambert with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall, Van Morrison, Weezer, New Order, Nancy Wilson, Judy Collins, Aly & AJ, Travis Tritt, Sarah Jarosz, Procol Harum, Staind, Mandy Barnett, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Iceage, etc.

    More New Releases » May 14 and Beyond: St. Vincent, The Black Keys, Del Amitri, Paul Weller, Alan Jackson, The Chills, Juliana Hatfield, David Gray, Blake Shelton, Olivia Rodrigo, twenty one pilots, Gary Numan, John Hiatt with The Jerry Douglas Band, Mat Kearney, k.d. lang, Moby, Ashley McBryde, Texas, Shannon McNally, Rise Against, Black Veil Brides, Crowded House, Liz Phair, James, Tristen, MARINA, Garbage, Wolf Alice, AFI, Cold Cave, Gary Kemp, Paul McCartney, Joshua Radin, Tom Odell, John Grant, Beartooth, Laura Mvula, The Wallflowers, Ida Mae, The Wandering Hearts, Maggie Rose, Candlebox, and many more.

    More Upcoming Releases » Albums coming in 2021 but yet to be scheduled

    Elton John loves Pauseandplay.comDeals of the DayBest SellersSennheiser MOMENTUM 2 Wireless Over-Ear HeadphonesIE 400 Pro In-Ear Monitors

  • New Merch at Hot TopicSave on Tablets at Walmart.comBand T-ShirtsTurntables & AccessoriesHome Audio SystemsAmazon Tap $40 OffSave up to 90% on Textbooks

    NOTE: is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We also participate in other affiliate programs.

  • Love We do, too … Help us keep it going. (Every little bit helps.) We ♥ u.

  • Recent Posts

  • Connect on Facebook

  • On Twitter