Brendan Graham

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Brendan Graham (born 1945)[1]) is an Irish songwriter and novelist. Among songs he has written or co-written are "Rock 'n' Roll Kids" (1994) and "The Voice" (1996), both of which won the Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland in their respective years, and "You Raise Me Up" (2002), which was an international hit as covered by various artists.

Early life[edit]

Graham was born in County Tipperary.


Brendan Graham is one of Ireland's most famous lyricists and song writers. In an article about the song tradition of Ireland, Con Houlihan wrote, "Some of the best poetry being produced in this country today is in the form of song – Christy Moore and Brendan Graham and Jimmy McCarthy are touched by genius."[2] In a feature article, the Irish Times described Graham as a ‘Musical Midas in the Mayo Silence.’[3]

Graham wrote the lyrics for the 2002 song "You Raise Me Up". Rolf Løvland, who wrote the music, was inspired to write the song after reading The Whitest Flower, Graham's first novel. "You Raise Me Up" was a huge international hit for Irish boyband Westlife. It has been covered by different artists almost 400 times. "You Raise Me Up" has been awarded ‘’Million-Air’’ status by the American Performing Rights Society BMI,[4] meaning that it been broadcast over one million times on American radio. It is the most downloaded sheet music song of all time.[citation needed]

Graham wrote or co-wrote four of Ireland's entries in the Eurovision Song Contest, including two winning entries: "Rock 'n' Roll Kids", which won in 1994, and "The Voice", the winner of the 1996 contest.[5] He also wrote the 1976 entry "When", which was sung by Red Hurley, and the 1985 entry "Wait until the weekend comes", performed by Maria Christian.

He has written several songs for Celtic Woman, including the lyrics of "O, America". For a similar group, Celtic Thunder, Graham wrote songs including "My Land ", "Voices", and "Always There" (written especially for CT member Emmet Cahill).

When the British composer Paul Mealor wrote a lullaby for Prince George, son of William and Katherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Graham was invited to write the lyrics. It is entitled "Sleep On".

Graham has worked with a diverse range of artists including Josh Groban, Westlife, IL Divo; New York Metropolitan’s Young Ok Shin, Sissel, Celtic Woman, Secret Garden, Elaine Paige; Australia’s Kate Ceberano, Brian Kennedy, Eimear Quinn, Katie McMahon, Anuna, Daniel O’Donnell, Ronan Tynan, Katherine Jenkins, Russell Watson, The Irish Tenors, Nashville’s Hal Ketchum, Tommy Cash and Benita Hill; as well as acclaimed artists within the Scottish and Irish traditions, such as Roisin Elsafty, Fionnuala Gill, Karen Matheson, Alyth McCormack, Sean Keane and Dervish.

Entries in the Eurovision Song Contest[edit]


Graham has written a best selling series of three novels: The Whitest Flower (London, Harper Collins, 1998), an Irish No. 2 best seller, The Element of Fire (Harper Collins, 2001) and The Brightest Day, The Darkest Night (Harper Collins, 2004). The Whitest Flower is set during Ireland's Great Famine. The Element of Fire continues the story: now a widow, Ellen Rua O'Malley flees her native land for Boston and the New World: with her are her two surviving children, Patrick and Mary, and the 'silent girl' whom Ellen has found wandering among the hordes of the dispossessed. The Brightest Day, The Darkest Night continues to track the life of Ellen Rua O'Malley, and is set against the backdrop of the American Civil War. It explores the themes of forgiveness and longing, and the changing role of women, set free by war from the protection of their men.[6]

Personal life[edit]

He currently lives in Mayo with his wife and five daughters.


  1. ^ Brendan Graham profile
  2. ^ Evening Herald, 26 Mar 2008
  3. ^ Irish Times, 20 Dec 2007
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ The Irish Times, "A musical Midas in the Mayo silence", 20 December 2007
  6. ^ profile, see paragraph 8