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Cruachan (band)

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Background information
OriginDublin, Ireland
Years active1992–1997, 1998–present
MembersKeith Fay
Joe Farrell
Audrey Trainor
Dave Quinn
Tom Woodlock

Cruachan (pronounced [ˈkɾˠuəxən̪ˠ]; named after the archaeological site of Rathcroghan, also known as Cruachan) are an Irish folk metal band from Dublin that have been active since the 1990s. They are recognised as one of the founders of folk metal, and have been acclaimed as having "gone the greatest lengths of anyone in their attempts to expand" the genre.[1] With a specific focus on Celtic music and the use of Celtic mythology in their lyrics, Cruachan's style of folk metal is called Celtic metal.[2]



Keith Fay had formed a Tolkien-inspired black metal band named after the city of Minas Tirith in 1991.[3] Around the same time, he began listening to more folk music and picked up Skyclad debut album The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth. Originally released in 1990, this "ambitious" and "groundbreaking" album[4] made an impact on Fay and he set out to combine black metal with the folk music of Ireland.[3] In 1992, Keith Fay formed Cruachan with a demo recording distributed in 1993.[5] Keith Fay also credits the Irish rock band Horslips as a "huge influence on Cruachan," further noting that "what they were doing in the 70's is the equivalent of what we do now."[3]

Keith Fay, Ukraine 2014

The year 1995 saw the release of Cruachan's debut album Tuatha na Gael, an album that "suffered under poor production."[6] On the strength of this album, the band received attention from Century Media Records. The band found it amazing to receive interest from "such a big label" but were dismayed at the terms and conditions of the offered recording deal.[7] They refused to sign a "very poor contract" that would have given the record label "the rights to change every aspect of our music."[6] After "lengthy negotiations failed to yield a deal with Century Media Records",[1] the band disbanded in 1997.[5]

Kieran, Keith and Eric, Russia 2014

Cruachan reformed in January 1999[5] and after signing a recording deal with Hammerheart Records, they released the second album The Middle Kingdom in 2000.[7] By this time, the band had dropped the black metal style in favor of a more traditional metal sound.[6] They also expanded the roster by inviting guest vocalist Karen Gilligan to be a full-fledged member of the group.[7] Their subsequent album Folk-Lore was co-produced by Shane MacGowan of The Pogues fame.[8] Shane MacGowan also contributed vocals to two covers of traditional Irish songs, "Spancill Hill" and "Ride On".[7] The latter was released as a single and the band experienced a small taste of commercial success when it entered the Irish charts.[9]

Keith Fay, Dublin, Ireland 2012

The band released their fourth studio album Pagan in 2004 with cover artwork by John Howe.[10] The production on the album was subsequently criticized by frontman Keith Fay as "terrible".[11] In 2005, the band parted ways with their label Karmageddon Media "on good terms."[12] For the band's fifth album, Cruachan returned to the same Sun Studios where they had recorded their first three albums.[13] The result was The Morrigan's Call, an effort that Keith Fay described as their "best work to date, in every aspect."[11] The album was released in November 2006 through AFM Records.[14] Drummer Joe Farrell left the band shortly thereafter due to "personal reasons" and was replaced by Colin Purcell.[15]

A further line-up change occurred in December 2008, as vocalist Karen Gilligan left the band "on good terms for various reasons."[16] Keith Fay announced that he "will take over full-time vocal duties while John Ryan and John O' Fathaigh will take on backing vocal roles."

A demo was recorded in 2010 which showed the band's return to a much harder more black metal influenced style. This demo was sent to specific record labels only and Candlelight Records UK signed them in June 2010. Blood on the Black Robe, the first of the "Trilogy of Blood" albums, was released in 2011.

On the morning of 20 February 2011, Keith Fay was brutally assaulted by about 15 men after leaving a nightclub in Dublin. Fay survived the attack with a broken rib, a knife-wound, and extensive bruising.[17]

2014 saw Cruachan leave Candlelight Records and sign with the dedicated folk and pagan metal record label, Trollzorn Records. This was also the busiest year of the band's career with very high-profile shows including a tour of Russia in March and headline shows in Germany, Ireland, Ukraine and Israel, as well as appearances at Ostrov festival (Russia), Bandershtat festival (Ukraine), HoernerFest (Germany), Brutal Assault (Czech Rep.), Rock for Roots (Germany), Halloween Fest (Italy) and Eindhoven Metal Meeting (The Netherlands). In between these shows they had been recording what would be their next studio album at the time. This album was titled Blood for the Blood God and was released on 5 December 2014. Due to their recording commitments they had to turn down a place on Paganfest USA 2014.

John Fay announced his departure from Cruachan on 24 June 2016.[18] This marks his second departure from Cruachan, he left Cruachan after the Folk-Lore album and appeared on albums Pagan and The Morrigan's Call in a guest musician capacity.

On 27 April 2018, Cruachan released their eighth studio album titled Nine Years of Blood, a concept album about the Nine Years' War. It was the third and final album of the so-called "Blood Trilogy". This would be the last album to feature bassist Eric Fletcher who departed the band in September 2018. He was replaced by Rustam Shakirzianov.

The year of 2020 had seen the band experience some notable line-up changes. On 14 January, Cruachan announced that bassist Rustam had departed the band following their performance on 70000 Tons of Metal earlier that month. On 10 February 2020, Cruachan announced that former drummer Joe Farrell would be rejoining the band as Rustam's replacement on bass. On 8 July, the band announced that drummer Mauro Frison was departing the band but not before he would contribute drums to the band's then upcoming single titled "The Hawthorn". It was announced later the same month on the 28 July that fiddle player John Ryan and Guitarist Kieran Ball would both be departing the band. During this period, Fay recruited Tom Woodlock on drums, Audrey Trainor on violin and Dave Quinn on guitar.

In early 2020, Cruachan left Trollzorn Records and signed a multi-album deal with Sweden's largest rock label – Despotz Records. As mentioned, "The Hawthorn" single was released in 2020 and the ninth studio album is slated for a late 2022 release.

On 1 October 2022, Cruachan announced that they had submitted a song for consideration for participation in the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 for Ireland.[19] However, the band was not listed amongst the final 6 shortlisted entries to compete in the Irish selection. In late 2023, the band announced that they had submitted a new song for the chance to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2024.

On 17 January 2023, the band announced that their ninth studio album, The Living and the Dead, would be released on 24 March 2023.[20]





  • John Clohessy – bass (1992–2012)
  • John (O'Fathaigh) Fay – tin whistles, Irish flute, keyboards, percussion (1993–1997, 1999–2002, 2003, 2008–2016)
  • Jay O'Neill – drums, percussion (1993–1997)
  • Steven Anderson – guitar, vocals (1993–1994)
  • Darryl Conlan – guitar (1992–1993)
  • Leon Bias – guitar, mandolin, bouzouki (1994–1995)
  • Collette Uí Fathaigh – keyboards (1994–1995)
  • Jay Brennan – guitar (1997)
  • Aisling Hanrahan – vocals (1997)
  • Karen Gilligan – vocals, percussion (1999–2008)
  • Edward Gilbert – banjo, guitar, keyboards, tin whistle (2001–2003)
  • Colin Purcell – drums, percussion (2007–2012)
  • Kieran Ball – guitar (2012–2020)
  • Mauro Frison – drums, percussion (2012–2020)
  • Eric Fletcher – bass (2012–2018)
  • Rustam Shakirzianov – bass (2018–2020)
  • John Ryan – violin, banjo, bouzouki (2004-2020); tin whistle (2004–2008)




Studio albums



  • "Ride On" (2001)
  • "The Hawthorn" (2020)


  • Celtica (1994)
  • Promo '97 (1997) – also included with 2001 bootleg of Tuatha na Gael
  • Untitled (2010) – led to new record deal with Candlelight Records


  • A Celtic Trilogy (2002) – boxed set of Tuatha na Gael, The Middle Kingdom and Folk-Lore in picture LP format; limited to 500 copies
  • A Celtic Legacy (2007)

See also



  1. ^ a b Rivadavia, Eduardo. "AMG Cruachan". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  2. ^ Bowar, Chad. "What Is Heavy Metal?". About.com. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  3. ^ a b c Bolther, Giancarlo. "Interview with Keith Fay of Cruachan". Rock-impressions.com. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  4. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "AMG The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth Review". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  5. ^ a b c Sharpe-Young, Garry. "MusicMight Cruachan Biography". MusicMight.com. Archived from the original on 23 July 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  6. ^ a b c Palmares, Pedro. "Interview with Keith Fay of Cruachan". cruachan.metalfan.nl. Archived from the original on 3 January 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  7. ^ a b c d Vonberg, Horst. "Interview with Keith Fay of Cruachan". Lordsofmetal.nl. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  8. ^ Stefanis, John. "Interview with Keith Fay of Cruachan". Getreadytorock.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2008. Retrieved 21 February 2008.
  9. ^ Eldefors, Vincent. "Interview with Keith Fay of Cruachan". Tartareandesire.com. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  10. ^ "CRUACHAN Announce Album-Launch Celebration". Blabbermouth.net. 10 March 2004. Archived from the original on 21 April 2006. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  11. ^ a b "CRUACHAN Frontman Explains Russian Concert Cancellations". Blabbermouth.net. 12 November 2006. Archived from the original on 8 February 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  12. ^ "CRUACHAN Part Ways With KARMAGEDDON MEDIA – May 27, 2005". Blabbermouth.net. 27 May 2005. Archived from the original on 28 June 2005. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  13. ^ "CRUACHAN Prepare To Record New Album". Blabbermouth.net. 10 January 2006. Archived from the original on 29 May 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  14. ^ "CRUACHAN Confirmed For Belgium's NEPHEREX FEST II". Blabbermouth.net. 8 January 2008. Archived from the original on 25 June 2008. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  15. ^ "CRUACHAN Parts Ways With Drummer, Announces Replacement". Blabbermouth.net. 16 January 2007. Archived from the original on 4 June 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  16. ^ "Female Singer KAREN GILLIGAN Quits Ireland's CRUACHAN". Blabbermouth.net. 7 December 2008. Archived from the original on 8 December 2008. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  17. ^ "CRUACHAN Frontman 'Savagely Attacked' In Dublin". Blabbermouth.net. 4 March 2011. Archived from the original on 18 September 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  18. ^ Cruachan Facebook: "John Fay has called it a day with Cruachan and we wish him well for the future." (June 24th, 2016)
  19. ^ "Folk metal band Cruachan confirm Ireland Eurovision 2023 bid." (October 1st, 2022
  20. ^ "Irish Folk Metallers CRUACHAN Reveal "The Living And The Dead" Album Details". Metal Kaoz. 17 January 2023. Retrieved 18 January 2023.