‘We're amazing storytellers’ – Celtic Woman’s newest recruit Tara McNeill on why Irish music is so popular around the world
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‘We're amazing storytellers’ – Celtic Woman’s newest recruit Tara McNeill on why Irish music is so popular around the world

IRISH all-female quartet Celtic Woman are about to embark on their latest world tour – bringing Irish music to fans as far afield as Japan, China and our very own London Palladium.

Following hundreds of applications from across Ireland, the iconic ensemble have narrowed down seven finalists in their search for the next ‘Celtic Angel’.

Finalists from each region have been chosen to perform alongside Celtic Woman at one of their British tour dates, singing to thousands of people in some of Britain’s biggest venues.

The winning singer will then join the ensemble next year at a major concert in America – where Irish music, as in so many others countries, is going from strength to strength.

The Irish Post sat down with Celtic Woman’s newest recruit, Tara McNeill, to chat about why Ireland’s melodies travel so far beyond the Emerald Isle.

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Q: Why do you think Irish music has such an international reach?

I think Irish music brings something that other music from around the world doesn’t always. We have beautiful melodies, both upbeat and nostalgic.

The lyrics as well – they’re all about love and loss and Irish people are the most amazing storytellers in the world. No matter what country you’re in, you can empathise with those sort of universal emotions.

Q: Celtic Woman are very popular in America, why is that?

The melodies in Irish music resonate in every corner of the world. I think in the US and the UK as well, that’s only amplified because there’s so many people of Irish ancestry.

And because there’s so many songs about having to leave Ireland and start a new life, people really connect with the music. They feel that.

Q: What is your favourite thing about performing Irish music across the world?

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Tara: It’s so uplifting. I definitely think that’s what people come to Celtic Woman shows to experience. In Japan, although there’s a language barrier the people who come and see us still feel that positive emotion.

We have real sentimental and heartbreaking songs, but then we have songs that will lift you up and get you clapping along with us. Uplifting is always what we’re going for.

Q: Was it daunting replacing Máiréad Nesbitt (founding member of Celtic Woman)?

Tara: Definitely! But we’re very lucky that on the one album I have recorded so far (Voices Of Angels) we had the 72-piece orchestra which we call the ‘Orchestra of Ireland’ to add to our sound.  Coming from a classical music background I have that touring experience so travelling around America, South Africa, China, Korea and so on wasn’t a completely alien experience for me.

We’re on a new journey now, and have a new lease of life. So I think next year we will be looking to take an even bigger, newer step.

Q: You’ve previously performed with Bono and Damien Rice, what was that like?

Tara: Brilliant! It was a special one-night show where I got to play with Bono in Dublin, as well as Damien Rice as well – who I was a massive fan of at the time. I get embarrassed thinking about it because Bono was saying things to me backstage and there was just so much background noise that I couldn’t hear what he was saying. So I had to get him to repeat things like four times and eventually I just nodded and gave up. So that’s my Bono story.

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As for Damien Rice, as such a massive fan of his it took all my courage to go up to him and ask for a photograph afterwards. Believe it or not, he said “no” but gave me a hug instead. My heart was broken!

Celtic Woman embark on their world tour next month, beginning at London Palladium on October 27 and culminating with at the Riverside Theatre in Perth, Australia on February 16 next year. Tickets are available via Eventim here.

Celtic Woman's upcoming Voice of Angels Tour dates: 

27 Oct: London Palladium

28 Oct: Liverpool Auditorium

29 Oct: Gateshead The Sage

30 Oct: Birmingham Symphony Hall

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31 Oct: Manchester Bridgewater Hall

1 Nov: Nottingham Royal Concert Hall

2 Nov: Glasgow Royal Concert Hall