VBO TOUR WRAPS UP!
After 52 shows, 32 States and 16,000 miles traveled, we have finally wrapped up our “Very Best of" spring Tour. What an amazing experience it was! So much fun on the road, performing in historic venues such as the Fabulous Fox in St Louis, the Orpheums in Los Angeles, Boston and Omaha and the Majestic in San Antonio to name but a few. Filming our newest DVD at Casino Rama in Canada – all highlights of what has been a fantastic tour.
Celtic Thunder Fans were thrilled with the line up for the nostalgic Very Best Of Celtic Thunder Tour. Damian McGinty (former Celtic Thunder and Glee Star) was back performing as a Guest Artist with the Celtic Thunder guys Colm Keegan, Keith Harkin, Ryan Kelly, Emmett O’Hanlon and Neil Byrne.
NORSK HOSTFEST – MINOT, ND
Celtic Thunder will return to the US on Oct 1, 2015 for their first-ever festival engagement at the Norsk Hostfest in Minot, North Dakota.
Norsk Høstfest is North America's largest Scandinavian festival which runs Sept. 29th - Oct. 3th. The 38th annual Norsk Høstfest kicks off Tuesday evening, Sept. 29, with a 7 p.m. opening ceremony followed by the Høstfest Eve Concert. Headline acts are scheduled to appear in The Great Hall of the Vikings over five nights and four days including Celtic Thunder.
"We like to think we're offering something for everyone," said Norsk Høstfest President David Reiten. “From returning favorites like comedian Jeff Foxworthy, to new names such as the dynamic Irish-group, Celtic Thunder and country-rock sibling trio, The Band Perry.”
NEPAL EARTHQUAKE APPEAL FUND
In December 2013 Ryan Kelly and Colm Keegan traveled to Nepal with the American Leprosy Mission to see firsthand the amazing work that they do on the ground there. During their weeklong trip, Colm and Ryan visited schools, villages and leprosy treatment clinics. And while they witnessed incredible poverty and abysmal living conditions on the ground, they were blown away by the spirit of hope, the friendliness and hospitality of the Nepali people they met. It is true to say that the people they met there really touched their hearts, and changed their lives forever.
In light of the recent tragedy in Nepal, Colm and Ryan have asked that we reach out to our fans to help send much needed supplies and emergency aid. Last week’s earthquake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale and has already claimed 3,726 lives with the death toll expected to rise. 6500 people have been injured and the true scale of the disaster is still unknown at this time.
One of Celtic Thunder’s main charity partners Concern Worldwide is responding on the ground and has already put an emergency team in place. Concern is raising funds to provide emergency supplies and shelter for victims of the earthquake. Here is a very important fact: 100% of ALL DONATIONS made to Concern will go directly to Concern’s emergency response efforts in Nepal, 100% guaranteed.
VBO TOUR – SIGNED BANNER AUCTION!
Celtic Thunder fans who attended the post show VIP events on the Very Best of Tour, will remember taking time out to sign a Celtic Thunder 8’x10’ banner. Over the course of 16 shows (from March 31st-April 23rd) we invited our Celtic Thunder Fans to sign or leave a note on the Celtic Thunder Logo Banner. The city name for each tour date was also designed and hand drawn onto the banner by members of Celtic Thunder cast and crew - Music Director David Munro, Singer Keith Harkin and Band Member Dave Bakey to name but a few. On the very last night of the tour, Keith, Ryan, Neil, Emmett, Colm and Damian signed the banner. We thought it a really cool and a perfect and unique piece of Celtic Thunder memorabilia for the Fan who has everything!!
CHILDREN OF LIR PENDANTS
The Children of Lir is one of the most famous Irish Legends and it goes like this... Long ago there lived a King named Lir who lived with his four children, Fionnuale, Aodh, Fiachra and Conn and his beloved wife who would soon die. After greiving for his wife King Lir married Aoife. Aoife was very jealous of King Lir's love for his four children. She used her magic to turn the children into swans. As swans they were condemned to spend 300 years at Lough Derravaragh, 300 years at the Sea of Moye and 300 years on the waters of Inis Glora. Left only their beautiful human voices people came from all over the land to hear the legendary singing of the swans. The only way to break the spell was a blessing from a monk. Finally after 900 years of suffering they heard church bells and returned to shore. There the spell was finally broke by St. Patrick. Unfortunately they were so old they died soon after the spell was broken and joined their parents in heaven. The haunting Celtic myth is an intrinsic part of our folklore and has been a powerful inspiration in making these pieces of jewelry.
RORY GALLAGHER INTERNATIONAL TRIBUTE FESTIVAL
Named as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, Rory Gallagher became legendary for his nonstop-touring ethic and fiery craft. Playing a weathered Strat, often wearing a flannel shirt, Gallagher electrified Chicago and Delta styles with scalding slide work and hard-boiled songwriting. For a career that was cut short by illness and a premature death, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Rory Gallagher sure accomplished a lot in the blues music world. He was known for his no-holds-barred, marathon live shows at clubs and theaters. He was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal on March 2, 1948. Shortly after his birth, his family moved south to Cork City and at age nine he became fascinated with American blues and folk singers he heard on the radio. In the years that have passed since Rory Gallagher’s death, aged 47 on June 14 1995, his true stature has become ever more clear.
FIND YOUR IDEAL ISLAND ALONG THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY
The wild scale of Ireland’s Atlantic coastline, the blueness of the ocean, the saltiness of the air and the lively welcome of the people can only be topped by one thing – dropping in on an Irish island. Ireland in miniature, being on an Irish island is like having the Emerald Isle to yourself.
Irish islands are about fabulous opportunities to get away from it all, to relax, or to take up whatever activity takes the fancy amid splendid isolation, or with friendly locals and a goldmine of traditional culture. And there is no better means to come under the spell of these magical, unspoiled getaways than exploring the islands of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Stretching 1,500 spectacular miles from Donegal to Cork, the Wild Atlantic Way is one of Europe’s great undiscovered secrets, and its islands still more so. Some of them are inhabited; some not. Some you can stay overnight on; some are for day-trips. Some are accessible by bridge; for the others you need to take a small boat, ferry or even an airplane.
IRISH MUSIC FESTIVAL – FLEADH CHEOIL 2015
The week-long festival of music, song and dance is Ireland's biggest celebration of culture, and last year drew an estimated 350,000 visitors to Sligo in the scenic north west of Ireland, generating in the region of €50m for the local economy.
"We were really delighted at the reaction to this year's Fleadh Cheoil," said Bartley Gavin, Chairperson of Fleadh Cheoil 2015. "This year, the Fleadh was back in Sligo for the first time in a generation, and we’d hope that, while the response was overwhelmingly positive, we'll learn from the experience and provide an even bigger and better Fleadh in 2015.”
Last year’s Fleadh saw visitors come to the festival from all over the world, to take part in the many competitions, or to play in any number of music sessions which filled every available space, on the streets, in the pubs and elsewhere. They were joined by thousands of music fans who attended concerts, lectures, exhibitions and more, or who simply wanted to take in one of the most iconic music festivals in the world.
RIDE ON IRELAND BIKE FEST
If you ride a motorbike, there's no better way to see Ireland – and on two wheels there's nowhere more inspirational than its Wild Atlantic Way.
The Wild Atlantic Way follows the Irish coastline from Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula in the north to the south coast gourmet town of Kinsale in County Cork.
At 2,500 km and passing through seven counties and three provinces it's a biker's dream; the longest coastal driving route in the world. One of the few bastions of wild, unspoiled scenery left in Western Europe, and, full of ancient history and tradition, it's one of the greatest routes any biker can undertake. And if it's the company of fellow-bikers that gets your motor running, then combining a Wild Atlantic Way ride-out with the Ireland Bike Fest in Killarney (29 May to 1 June) has to be top of the list. Killarney is right on the Wild Atlantic Way and home to a number of other world-famous stand-alone touring routes, including the Ring of Kerry. So it's no surprise that every make and model of motorbike imaginable rumbles into the town for Ireland’s annual and free open biker festival. Attracting tens of thousands from all over the world, this is a weekend of full throttle fun, food and all things motorcycle.
A CELEBRATION OF LITERARY GREATS
Lovers of great literature should book a trip to Ireland this June to make sure not to miss the momentous double celebration of two of the country's greatest literary figures, James Joyce and W. B. Yeats.
June 16th is Bloomsday, the annual celebration of all things Joycean. This year it falls amid the international celebration that will take place in honor of Nobel Prize-winning poet, W. B. Yeats. Yeats Day (13 June) will be a worldwide celebration and part of the yearlong Yeats 2015 programmed of cultural and artistic events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Yeats' birth.
The key birthday celebrations will be held in Sligo, and this year Yeats Day becomes a four-day festival. Starting with a Nobel Dinner to celebrate the Nobel Prize-winner, it will be followed by three days of poetry, music, song, drama, visual art, craft, and will include a very special poet’s cake. Special guests and events will make this a Yeats' birthday to remember. Celebrations will also be held in Tokyo, Washington, London, Dublin, Galway, Paris and New York.
IRELAND’S BED AND BREAKFASTS
It’s no surprise that Lonely Planet has listed Ireland as one of the must-see destinations for 2015. From natural beauty and stunning landscapes, to fascinating historical sites and attractions, Ireland has it! A trip to Ireland can be made even more special by staying with the locals, which is exactly what Ireland's Bed and Breakfast accommodation offers. There are many reasons and advantages to booking into the local B&B, here are just a few.
An Irish B&B is the best place to start your search for long lost ancestors. With a wealth of local knowledge, your B&B host can point you in the right direction to help trace your Irish roots.
Experience life on a working Irish farm and choose a Farmhouse B&B. Take a tour of the farm, collect eggs, meet the animals and much more. All the family will love the B&B farmstay holiday experience!
It‘s with great excitement that visitors to Ireland will be able to experience the wealth of heritage and culture that Ireland has to offer through the ‘Ireland’s Ancient East’ experience.
Escape to the Great Outdoors and opt for a stay in an Adventure Seekers B&B! Whether you are looking for the thrill of surfing on the Atlantic Coast, horse riding through a shady forest or cycling, a B&B adventure awaits.
BLUE HAVEN HOTEL
Blue Haven Hotel, Kinsale is a charming old world boutique hotel, situated in the heart of beautiful Kinsale, Co. Cork within touching distance of Kinsale’s many famous bars and restaurants and only 20 minutes from Cork city and the beginning or end of your trip of the incredible, inspirational, breath-taking Wild Atlantic Way – Ireland’s longest coastal route a 2500km epic trip of Ireland’s western coastline.
Historic Kinsale, originally a medieval fishing port, is one of the most picturesque, popular and historic towns on the south west coast of Ireland and it has been hailed as the Gourmet Capital of Ireland.
The Blue Haven Hotel is built on the site of the Old Fish Market and Meat Market in the town dating back to 1784. Until the late eighteenth century the street the hotel is located on (Pearse Street) was an open waterway. This was covered over at the end of the eighteenth century to create the current street and the buildings that now form the hotel and surrounding wall date from this time. Over 200 years later, Blue Haven now produces award-winning delicious gourmet food on the very site which was such a pivotal part of Kinsale fishing heritage. Blue Haven’s reputation for excellent food, friendly personal service and meticulous attention to detail will always ensure your visit to Kinsale's Blue Haven is a special one.
Located in Bunratty in the heart of County Clare, Highbury House is a beautiful Tudor style country home. This B&B boasts a lavish two-acre garden and spacious ground floor bedrooms.
Highbury House is a luxury B&B built in Bunratty in the heart of County Clare. The Tudor style country house offers a two acre garden, spacious and unique ground floor bedrooms and warm, friendly hospitality. Highbury House is a five star bed and breakfast with all the elegance of an earlier age. The house is located on large grounds with a variety of mature trees, plants and flowers. Tea or coffee and delicious home baking are served in the orangery on arrival.
A trip to Highbury House also gifts visitors the chance to see some of Clare’s beautiful sights, including the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. Guests can also avail of a host of potential activities in the Clare area. Surfers will enjoy the two mile long Lahinch Beach and sailing fanatics will savour Kilrush Marina, while the county offers numerous quality angling locations.
SERIOUS ABOUT SEAFOOD
Fishy Fishy Restaurant Kinsale, is an award-winning restaurant run by husband and wife team Martin & Marie Shanahan who are totally passionate about what they do.
Chef Martin Shanahan knows a thing or two about fish. His passion for seafood saw them open their original Kinsale Gourmet Store in 1990. A fish shop and deli in one, it regularly had queues of diners vying to be seated. This roaring success led them to expand the business and finally culminated in the opening of their Fishy Fishy Restaurant.
Martin's background as a fishmonger ensures that the restaurant is supplied with only the best of fresh fish from the waters off the south coast of Ireland. He takes pride in personally knowing who has caught his seafood that morning and ensures that only the freshest catch & local produce go onto his menu.
The spacious Fishy Fishy Restaurant is set out over two floors, with an additional outside area for al fresco dining during the summer months. Whether you are a visitor to Kinsale, or living in the town, all are welcomed and catered for by Martin, Marie and their team.
KINSALE AND CLONAKILTY
Ask any local living between Kinsale and the Beara, Sheep’s Head and Mizen Head Peninsulas where they’re from, and they’ll answer "West Cork" – never just "Cork". Strictly speaking, West Cork begins at Kinsale and runs in a westerly direction to Dursey Island at the tip of the Beara Peninsula.
The further west you head, the more rugged and "wild west" the landscape becomes. When you hit the coastline of little ports, bays, inlets and harbors, expect to share it with the other adventure-seeking surfers, anglers and kayakers who all get drawn there. Even still, you’ll never feel remotely crowded in West Cork. In fact, sometimes you'll feel like you have the place entirely to yourself.
Clonakilty is a bustling spot; picture colourful houses, hanging flower boxes and quirky pubs. While it will forever be associated with the famous Clonakilty Black Pudding (a local artisan product), the town is a real melting pot of artists, musicians, award-winning restaurants and pubs, all with a flare of genuine Irish appeal.
History runs deep in Clonakilty and they’re especially proud of their most famous son: Michael Collins. Michael Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader instrumental in gaining the Republic of Ireland’s independence from the British. He was a larger than life character and his story is lovingly preserved in the Micheal Collins Museum in Clonakilty.
THE UNMISSABLE IRISH OPEN 2015
This year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation is still on course to be a sell-out with The European Tour revealing today that 70% of tickets have already been sold for the eagerly anticipated event which takes place at Royal County Down on May 28-31.
In 2012, the Irish Open at Royal Portrush became the first European Tour event to sell out in advance and once again, The Tour is urging golf fans to book their tickets early to avoid potential disappointment at the gate.
More than 80,000 spectators are expected in total at the event which, with the Rory Foundation on board as the official tournament host, is expected to be one of the best Irish Opens in the history of this great competition.
Using his considerable influence and pulling power, World Number One Rory McIlroy has already recruited many of the world’s leading players including Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington, Paul Lawrie, José Maria Olazábal and of course Northern Ireland’s very own Ryder Cup Captain for 2016, Darren Clarke. Even more big names are expected to follow before the entry deadline.
Travelers to Ireland know that spring is the best season to visit the Emerald Isle. The bluebells and daffodils are out, the summer crowds have yet to arrive and transatlantic airfares are low. But there are other reasons also. In Ireland, the concept of great eating means more and more the best of fresh, seasonal, local and traditional food. Lush and green and full of happy grass-fed dairy cows, Ireland almost seems to epitomize that way of cooking. To a certain extent that theme has always been quite strong in Ireland, but there has definitely been more emphasis on this concept in the last few years. This is due to a few factors, among them the huge increase in farmers’ markets springing up all over the country where the producer gets to sell seasonal and local foods directly to the consumer.
It makes so much sense in Ireland to eat like this, as we have such fantastic resources available—such good meat, dairy and vegetables—because of our rich, fertile land. There has also been a huge growth in artisan producers making food by traditional methods, such as cheese making, meat curing and fish smoking.
The term “modern Irish food” has actually returned to its roots, so to speak; modern Irish food is more about celebrating the best of what we have here, be it fantastic local vegetables or great dairy or meat, teamed up with our best artisanal products.
Irish spring lamb is the hero at this time of year in Ireland. Spring lamb for the table, coming from lambs born around Christmas, is sweet, mild and subtle. The skin on spring lamb when roasted gets particularly crisp and delicious; so do not be tempted to trim any off before roasting the meat. Pair the lamb with roasted “new’ potatoes, and you have a springtime feast ahead of you.
There must be something about prohibitions that make citizens defy even the strongest government. In America, prohibition of alcoholic beverages led to a thriving industry in "bootleg" whiskey; in Ireland, prohibition of Roman Catholic education led to a thriving industry in "bootleg" schools, Ireland's Hedge Schools.
The Hedge Schools emerged out of the harshness of the infamous Penal Laws, passed between 1702 and 1719. One of the first of the Penal Laws specified that "no person of the popish religion shall publicly or in private houses teach school, or instruct youth in learning within this realm..." One commentator on this Penal Law said that "It was not merely the persecution of a religion, it was an attempt to degrade and demoralize a whole nation." A law as unjust as this pleaded to be defied and the Irish of the 18th century were equal to the challenge.
It was not that there were no schools in Ireland open to Roman Catholic children that led to the Hedge Schools. The English government sponsored schools but the majority of the Catholic population refused to use them. The government schools were clearly intended to proselytize and to Anglicize Ireland. As late as 1825, the Protestant hierarchy petitioned the King, saying "amongst the ways to convert and civilize the Deluded People, the most necessary have always been thought to be that a sufficient number of English Protestant Schools be erected, wherein the Children of the Irish Natives should be instructed in the English Tongue and in the Fundamental Principles of the True Religion."
CONNLA AND THE FAIRY MAIDEN
CONNLA of the Fiery Hair was son of Conn of the Hundred Fights. One day as he stood by the side of his father on the height of Usna, he saw a maiden clad in strange attire coming towards him.
"Whence comest thou, maiden?" said Connla. "I come from the Plains of the Ever Living," she said, "there where there is neither death nor sin. There we keep holiday always, nor need we help from any in our joy. And in all our pleasure we have no strife. And because we have our homes in the round green hills, men call us the Hill Folk.""
The king and all with him wondered much to hear a voice when they saw no one. For save Connla alone, none saw the Fairy Maiden. "To whom art thou talking, my son?" said Conn the king.
Then the maiden answered, "Connla speaks to a young, fair maid, whom neither death nor old age awaits. I love Connla, and now I call him away to the Plain of Pleasure, Moy Mell, where Boadag is king for aye, nor has there been complaint or sorrow in that land since he has held the kingship. Oh, come with me, Connla of the Fiery Hair, ruddy as the dawn with thy tawny skin. A fairy crown awaits thee to grace thy comely face and royal form. Come, and never shall thy comeliness fade, nor thy youth, till the last awful Day of Judgment."
IRISH ARTIST - RORY GALLAGHER
In the years that have passed since Rory Gallagher’s death, aged 47 on June 14 1995, his true stature has become ever more clear. This soft-spoken Irishman, characterized by his flowing locks and trademark working man stage clothes, was far from ordinary. Gallagher was a self-taught virtuoso who forged a musical revolution in his native land, shunned the traps of fame and stardom yet became a universally acclaimed international folk hero.
Rory’s rock solid devotion to his calling never wavered and the respect of his musical peers was universal. Eric Clapton credited Gallagher with “getting me back into the blues”, The Rolling Stones tried to get him to replace Mick Taylor. Rory’s influence spread through the generations - from Slash to Johnny Marr, from U2’s The Edge to Queen’s Brian May, and onto The Manics’ James Dean Bradfield - any aspiring player who encountered him was bound to be energized or transformed.
Of all the guitar greats who emerged in the post war era Rory Gallagher was predestined to become a Celtic Warrior King. He shared his name with Ireland’s last native monarch, was born (to rock) at Rock Hospital in Ballyshannon, Donegal (March 2nd 1948) while his father was employed constructing a hydroelectric power plant on the nearby Erne River.
THE FISHERMAN - WB YEATS
Although I can see him still—
The freckled man who goes
To a gray place on a hill
In gray Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies—
It's long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.
All day I'd looked in the face
What I had hoped it would be
To write for my own race