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Clannad bridged the gap between traditional Celtic music and pop. The results were usually an entrancing, enchanting form of pop that managed to fuse the disparate elements together rather seamlessly. Such fusions earned the band an international cult of fans. Taking their name from the Gaelic word for "family," Clannad formed in 1970 when the Brennan family -- Máire (vocals, harp), Ciarán (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards), Pól (guitar, percussion, flute, vocals) -- began playing at their father Leo's tavern with two of their uncles, Pádraig Duggan (guitar, vocals, mandolin) and Noel Duggan (guitar, vocals). Soon afterward, the group began playing folk festivals in Ireland. They released their self-titled first album in 1973, yet the band didn't earn any widespread success until they toured Germany in 1975. Máire's sister Eithne (later Enya) joined the group in 1980, but left in 1982, just as the group was beginning to come into some pop success in the U.K. Clannad recorded the theme song for the television program Harry's Game; the single hit number five on the charts and won the band an Ivor Novello Award. The band recorded the soundtrack to the television production Robin of Sherwood in 1984; it won a British Academy Award for best soundtrack the next year. Clannad's success continued in 1986, when U2's Bono was featured on the Top 20 hit "In a Lifetime." The band continued to release albums into the '90s, building their pop following without losing their folk audience. Landmarks, which was issued in early 1997, earned the group their first ever Grammy award, though it also signaled the beginning of a long hiatus from the stage and the studio. Compilations like The Best of Clannad: In a Lifetime and solo projects from Noel and Pádraig (the Duggans) and Moya Brennan (who had changed the spelling of her name to match her sister's) dominated the front half of the 2000s, culminating in a 2008 world tour that found Clannad traveling as far as Thailand. Finally, in 2013, the band returned to the studio for the album Nádúr, their first studio album in nearly 20 years, and embarked on an international tour. It would be their last album to feature Pádraig Duggan, who died in 2016. An archival live album, Turas 1980, was released in 2018. Noel Duggan died on October 15, 2022 at the age of 73.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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