Celtic Thunder: A Journey through Irish Harmony
Celtic Thunder, the musical sensation that seamlessly blends traditional Irish tunes with contemporary sounds, has captivated audiences worldwide with its powerful performances and exceptional vocal talents. The journey of Celtic Thunder from its beginnings to international fame is a story woven with rich musical heritage and the diverse talents of its members.
Inception and Formation
Celtic Thunder was conceived in 2007 by producer Sharon Browne, along with composers and musical directors Phil Coulter and David Munro. The idea was to create a musical ensemble that would showcase the diverse talents of young Irish singers. The group’s formation coincided with a resurgence of interest in Celtic and Irish music on the global stage.
The original lineup featured five male vocalists, each bringing a unique style to the group. The lineup has seen changes over the years, with members leaving and new talents joining, adding fresh dynamics to the ensemble.
Rise to Fame
Celtic Thunder’s rise to fame can be attributed to its distinctive blend of traditional and contemporary music, combined with the charisma and vocal prowess of its members. The group’s debut performance in Dublin in 2007 set the stage for their meteoric rise, and it wasn’t long before they were captivating audiences far beyond the shores of Ireland.
One of the defining factors of Celtic Thunder’s success is the group’s ability to seamlessly transition between genres; their repertoire includes traditional Irish folk songs, classic pop hits, and original compositions, creating a musical tapestry that appeals to a broad audience. The combination of powerful vocals, dynamic choreography, and visually stunning stage productions contributed to their widespread acclaim.
Current Members of Celtic Thunder
1. Ryan Kelly (Singer)
Born Ryan John Kelly under the zodiac sign of Scorpio on 6 November 1978, in The Moy, Ireland, he recently celebrated his 45th birthday. Raised by his parents in a village in County Tyrone as the youngest of three children, he has a brother and sister. When it comes to his educational background, he holds a Bachelor’s degree of Science (Accounting) from the Queen’s University Belfast, as well as a Graduate Diploma in Advanced Accounting.
Ryan had a passion for music and theater from an early age; he was seven when he started performing publicly. He brought a strong vocal presence to Celtic Thunder, his background in musical theater and acting adding depth to the group’s performances.
Ryan released two solo albums, “In Time” (2010) and “Life” (2013). When it comes to his personal life, it seems that he’s single, and hasn’t been married.
2. Neil Byrne (Lead Singer)
Born under the zodiac sign of Scorpio on 3 November 1977, Neil is today aged 46 (as of November 2023). He hails from Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland, and was raised by his parents – his father, who played in a band, had the biggest influence when it came to Neil’s passion for music. Neil played with his brother, Paul, in the band called Chase, and was then a member of Irish bands such as Hipple Street and Oden.
He’s not only a skilled vocalist but also a talented guitarist. His contributions extended beyond Celtic Thunder, as he pursued solo projects; Neil released his debut album, “Pale Blue Jak” in 2011, and collaborations with other artists. One of the most known is his collaboration with Ryan Kelly, the duo releasing four albums, “Acoustically Irish” (2013), “Byrne and Kelly: Live in Australia” (2014), “Echoes” (2016), and “The Ballads Collection” (2020).
When it comes to his personal life, Neil lives in County Wexford, Ireland with his partner, Nicole, and their two daughters, Wren and Fleur.
3. Colm Keegan (Singer)
Born Colm Joseph Keegan under the zodiac sign of Leo on 2 August 1989, in Dublin Ireland, this singer-songwriter is today aged 34. Before joining Celtic Thunder in 2012, Colm performed with The Priests and Peter Corry, a famous Irish tenor. Many said that Colm infused the group with youthful energy. His experience in musical theater and his impressive vocal range made him a valuable addition to the ensemble. When not touring with the Celtic Thunder, Colm works as a teacher.
Since 26 July 2016, Colm has been married to Laura Durrant, a cellist who plays with the Celtic Thunder. The couple has two children together. Their son, Oisin, was born in 2017, and their daughter Isla in 2018.
4. Emmet Cahill (Tenor)
Emmet Cahill was born under the zodiac sign of Libra on 18 October 1990, which makes him 33 years old. His roots trace back to Mullingar in County Westmeath, Ireland, where his musical odyssey commenced with piano lessons at the tender age of five.
By the age of seven, he delved into voice training and eventually secured a music scholarship for high school in Mullingar. Over the next five years, Emmet immersed himself in intensive musical studies, expanding his proficiency in piano, organ, violin and vocal training. Despite excelling in various instruments, singing remained his undeniable passion. His educational journey continued at the esteemed Royal Irish Academy of Music, culminating in the attainment of a university degree in Music Performance.
Before joining Celtic Thunder in 2010, he had already made a name for himself as a solo artist, and his melodic tones added a classical touch to the group’s repertoire.
When it comes to his personal life, Emmet is single and hasn’t been married.
5. Damian McGinty (Singer)
Born Damian Joseph McGinty Junior under the zodiac sign of Virgo on 9 September 1992, he recently celebrated his 31st birthday; he’s a native of Derry, Northern Ireland. Damian joined Celtic Thunder at a remarkably young age, when just 14 years old. His journey started with his success in the reality show “The Glee Project”, showcasing not only his vocal talents but also his versatility as a performer. He acted in the hit TV series “Glee”, playing Rory Flanagan, a foreign exchange student.
Beyond his success with “Glee” and Celtic Thunder, Damian has also embarked on a solo career, releasing albums that showcase the depth and versatility of his musical talent. His debut solo album, “This Christmas Time” released in 2016, demonstrated his ability to seamlessly navigate various genres, including pop, folk, and traditional Irish music.
In terms of his personal life, since 1 June 2019, Damian has been married to Anna Claire Sneed, his (former) long-term girlfriend.
Legacy and Continuing Journey
Celtic Thunder’s impact goes beyond the confines of traditional Irish music. The group’s albums, live performances, and televised specials have garnered a dedicated fan base around the globe. Their ability to reinvent classic songs and introduce new compositions keeps their music fresh and relevant.
As the members of Celtic Thunder continue their musical journey, their legacy remains embedded in the hearts of those who have been moved by the magic of their harmonies and the energy of their performances. From humble beginnings to international acclaim, Celtic Thunder stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of Irish music, and the timeless power of a captivating vocal ensemble.