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Pan Celtic Festival

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Pan Celtic Festival
Pan Celtic Festival logo.png
Logo of the Pan Celtic Festival.
Genre Celtic music festival
Dates Every Spring
Location(s) Ireland
Years active 1971–present
Founded by Con O'Connaill

The Pan Celtic Festival (Irish: Féile Pan Cheilteach) is a Celtic-language music festival held annually in the week following Easter, since its inauguration in 1971. The first Pan Celtic Festival took place in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland. Its aim is to promote the modern Celtic languages and cultures and artists from all six Celtic nations: Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales.

Each participating Celtic Nation undergoes their own national selection event in order to determine their representatives for the annual Pan Celtic Festival. The most successful Celtic nation is Wales, with fourteen wins, with Cornwall following closely behind having won ten times. Benjad, who represented Cornwall in 2012 and 2013, became the first artist in the festival's history to have won twice. Isle of Man is the least successful nation, having only won once in 2014. The current winners, as of April 2016, are Wales, represented by Cordia with the song "Dim Ond Un".

Origins and history[edit]

The six Celtic nations, as recognised by the Celtic League:

Formed in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland, the Pan Celtic Festival was organised as a music festival to be held every Spring, to promote the modern cultures and Celtic languages through the medium of music. It was originally entitled "Gwyl Gerdd Bach" (English: "Small Music Festival"), by Con O'Connaill, but later changed to the name it is currently known by today. In May 1971, the first festival took place in Killarney; and featured performers from Wales (Phyllis and Meredydd Evans), Ireland (Scoil na Toirbhirte), and Brittany (Les Tregerez Group and Alan Stivell).[1]

Meredydd Evans engaged in discussions with the event organiser, O'Connaill, following the 1971 Festival, and invited him to the National Eisteddfod of Wales. At the Eisteddfod, O'Connaill met with members from other Celtic nations, forming a committee for the Pan Celtic Festival. Participants from the six Celtic nations of Brittany (Breizh), Cornwall (Kernow), Wales (Cymru), Scotland (Alba), Ireland (Éire) and the Isle of Man (Mannin) took part in the second Pan Celtic Festival held again in Killarney in 1972. It was during this festival that the core structure of the event was finalised following a meeting with committee members. These principles of the event are to promote the languages, musical talents and cultures within the six territories recognised as Celtic nations.[1]


Eligibility to compete at the Pan Celtic Festival is for Celtic nations, which are territories in Northern and Western Europe where Celtic languages or cultural traits have survived, and are members of the Celtic League.[2] The term "nation" is used in its original sense to mean a community of people who share a common identity and culture and are identified with a traditional territory. It is not synonymous with "sovereign state".[1]

Nation[1] Celtic name Début year
 Brittany Breizh 1971
 Cornwall Kernow 1972
 Ireland Éire 1971
 Isle of Man Mannin 1972
 Scotland Alba 1972
 Wales Cymru 1971
Eligible to participate but have yet to make their debut.

National selections[edit]

Brittany: Gouelioù Etrekeltiek An Oriant[edit]

National selection events Festival Interceltique de Lorient
Participation summary
Appearances 45
First appearance 1971
Best result 1st: See table below

The Gouelioù Etrekeltiek An Orient (translated as English: Inter-Celtic Festival of Lorient, or French: Festival Interceltique de Lorient) is an annual Celtic festival, located in the city of Lorient, Brittany, France. The event also acts as a national selection process to determine the Breton representative for the annual Pan Celtic Festival. It was founded in 1971 by Polig Montjarret. This annual festival takes place every August and is dedicated to the cultural traditions of the Celtic nations (pays celtes in Brittany), highlighting celtic music and dance and also including other arts such as painting, photography, theatre, sculpture, traditional artisan as well as sport and gastronomy.[3]

Cornwall: Kan Rag Kernow[edit]

National selection events Kan Rag Kernow
Participation summary
Appearances 44
First appearance 1972
Best result 1st: See table below

Kan Rag Kernow (English: A Song for Cornwall) is a Cornish annual song contest to find a representative for Cornwall at the Pan Celtic Festival, held annually in Ireland.[4] The Cornish group, The Changing Room, won the 2015 Kan Rag Kernow on 30 January 2015.[5] The group went on to represent Cornwall at the 2015 Pan Celtic Festival, finishing in first place with the song "Hal an Tow" (Flora Day).[6]

Ireland: Comórtas Amhrán Náisiúnta[edit]

Republic of Ireland
Member station TG4
National selection events Comórtas Amhrán Náisiúnta
Participation summary
Appearances 45
First appearance 1971
Best result 1st: See table below

The Comórtas Amhrán Náisiúnta (English: National Song Contest) is the Irish selection process to determine the representatives for Ireland at the annual Pan Celtic Festival. In 2015, the selection show was held at the Seven Oaks Hotel, in Carlow, on 7 March.[7]

Isle of Man: Arrane son Mannin[edit]

Isle of Man
Isle of Man
National selection events Arrane son Mannin
Participation summary
Appearances 44
First appearance 1972
Best result 1st: See table below

The Arrane son Mannin (English: Song for Manx) is the Manx selection process for the Pan Celtic Festival, held annually in Ireland. In 2015, Shenn Scoill was chosen to represent the Irish Sea island.[8]

Scotland: Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail[edit]

Member station BBC Alba
National selection events Royal National Mòd
Participation summary
Appearances 44
First appearance 1972
Best result 1st: See table below

The Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail (English: Royal National Mòd) is the Scottish Gaelic selection process, organised by the An Comunn Gàidhealach, to find the Scottish representative for the Pan Celtic Festival, held annually in Ireland.[9] The Scottish band, Na h-Òganaich, were the first representatives for Scotland at the 1971 Pan Celtic Festival. They represented Scotland again in 1972, with the song "Mi le m’Uillin", finishing in first place.[10]

Wales: Cân i Gymru[edit]

Member station S4C
National selection events Cân i Gymru
Participation summary
Appearances 45
First appearance 1971
Best result 1st: See table below

Cân i Gymru (English: A Song for Wales, Welsh pronunciation: [ˈkaːn i ˈɡəmrɨ]) is a Welsh television show broadcast on S4C annually. It was first introduced in 1969 when BBC Cymru wanted to enter the Eurovision Song Contest. It has taken place every year since, except in 1973. Cân i Gymru is different from most talent shows; whereas the majority invite the public to participate, Cân i Gymru welcomes only professional artists. The winner of the contest represents Wales at the annual Pan Celtic Festival held in Ireland and is also awarded a cash prize.[11]

Wales will be making their debut participation in the Eurovision Choir of the Year 2017, which will make it the first time in any of the Eurovision Family of Events that the country will not be represented as part of the unified state of the United Kingdom.[12] Wales used the talent show "Côr Cymru", to select their representatives.[13]

Festival hosts[edit]

Locations of the Counties of Ireland who have hosted the Pan Celtic Festival.

The festivals, since 1971, have been held in various towns and cities in Ireland.[1] Below is a list of the host cities and their respective years of hosting. The 2001 festival was cancelled due to the foot-and-mouth outbreak.[1] As is shown below, County Kerry have hosted the festival twenty-nine times since 1971, with the most recent the 2011 Festival, in the town of Dingle, who first hosted the event in 2010.[14] County Clare have only hosted once in 1997.[1]

Festivals Irish county Location Years
29 County Kerry Killarney 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980,
1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990
Tralee 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005
Dingle 2010, 2011
4 County Galway Galway 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
County Donegal Letterkenny 2006, 2007
Donegal Town 2008, 2009
County Carlow Carlow 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017
2 County Kilkenny Kilkenny 2002, 2003
County Londonderry Derry 2014, 2015
1 County Clare Ennis 1997

List of winners[edit]

By festival[edit]

The table below lists all of the annual Pan Celtic Festival winners since its inaugural event in 1971.[1]

Na h-Òganaich, representatives for Scotland who won the 1972 Pan Celtic Festival with the song "Mi le m’Uillin".
Capercaillie, representatives for Scotland who won the 1985 Pan Celtic Festival with the song "Urnuigh a Bhan Thigreach".
Year[1] Artist[1] Winning nation[1] Song[1] English translation
1971 Scoil na Toirbhirte  Ireland "Tomás MacCurtain" Thomas MacCurtain
1972 Na h-Òganaich  Scotland "Mi le m’Uillin" The dreaming sea
1973 Margaret O'Brien  Ireland "Goirm Thú" Animal erasers
1974 Iris Williams  Wales "Cymru Rydd" Free Wales
McMurrough  Ireland "Cuain Baile 'na Cuairte" Visit the harbour town
1975 Bran  Wales "Caled Fwlch" Hard gap
1976 Mary Sandeman  Scotland "Thoir dhom do Lamh" Give me your hand
1977 Kyaalldan  Brittany "Breizh" Brittany
1978 Gouelia  Brittany "Korn-Bout"
1979 Margaret MacLeod  Scotland "An Lon Dubh" The blackbird
1980 Dermot O'Brien  Ireland "Neansaí" Nancy
1981 Kathleen MacDonald  Scotland "Oran do Cheit"
1982 Bando  Wales "Nid Llwynog Oedd Yr Haul" The sun was not the fox
1983 Mary MacInnis  Scotland "Man Aonar le no Smuaintean"
1984 Ragamuffin  Cornwall "Ar Wrannen" The warren
1985 Capercaillie  Scotland "Urnuigh a Bhan Thigreach"
1986 Kristen Nicolas  Brittany "Gwerz Maro Paotr Anst"
1987 Eryr Wen  Wales "Gloria Tyrd Adre" Gloria come home
1988 Manon Llwyd  Wales "Cân Wini" Mini scales
1989 Hefin Huws  Wales "Twll Triongl" Triangle hole
1990 Christine Kennedy  Scotland "'M' londrainn air Chuairt"
1991 Philip Knight  Cornwall "Deus yn-rag, Dolli" Finished ahead, Dolly
1992 Gerróid O'Murchú  Ireland "Soilse geala na cathrach" Bright city lights
1993 Liam Ó hUaithne  Ireland "An Pobal Scaipthe" Public dissemination
1994 Geraint Griffiths  Wales "Rhyw Ddydd" Some Day
1995 Gwenda Owen  Wales "Cân I'r Ynys Werdd" Song to the Emerald Isle
1996 West Group  Cornwall "An Arvair" The arms
1997 Art Ó Dufaigh & Sean Ó hEanaí  Ireland "Comhartha an Ghaoil" Sign the relationship
1998 Arwel Wyn Roberts  Wales "Rho dy Law" Place your hand
1999 Per Nod  Wales "Torri'n Rhydd" Cutting loose
2000 Rachael Cans tir Kemmyn  Cornwall "Tir Kemmyn" Common land
2001 No contest held due to the 2001 United Kingdom foot-and-mouth outbreak
2002 Gainor Haf  Wales "Dagrau Ddoe" Yesterday tears
2003 Elin Flur a'r Moniars  Wales "Harbwr Diogel" Safe harbour
2004 Treiz Noath  Cornwall "Mor Menta Sewia" Mint-berries prosper
2005 Kentyon Bew  Cornwall "Treusporthys" Stubborn port
2006 Krena  Cornwall "Fordh Dhe Dalvann" Road to Dalvann
2007 Gealbrí  Ireland "Seolfaidh Me Abhaile" Send me home
2008 Deirdre Níi Chinnéide le Fraoch  Ireland "Ta me caillte go deo" I am lost forever
2009 Elfed Morris  Wales "Boddi mae ngofidiau" Drowning has troubles
2010 Màiri Chaimbeul & Jenna Moynihan  Scotland "Back and Forth"
2011 Brigyn[15]  Wales "Rhywun yn Rhywle" Someone somewhere
2012 Benjad[16]  Cornwall "Mordid Bewnans" Morbid life
2013 Benjad[16]  Cornwall "Breten Vyhan" Great Britain
2014 Shenn Scoill[17]  Isle of Man "Tayrn Mee Thie"
2015 The Changing Room[6]  Cornwall "Hal an Tow" The peat marsh
2016 Cordia[18]  Wales “Dim Ond Un” Just One
2017 Emer O'Flaherty le Paddy Mulcahy & Angelo Heart  Ireland "Taibhse" Ghost

By Celtic nation[edit]

Map showing each Celtic nation's number of Pan Celtic Festival wins

The table below lists all of the Pan Celtic Festival winners by Celtic Nations, since its inaugural event in 1971. Wales is the most successful nation to date, with fifteen wins; with Cornwall coming in second with ten wins. Isle of Man achieved their one and only win to date in 2014.[1]

Wins[1] Celtic nation Years
15  Wales 1974, 1975, 1982, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2016
10  Cornwall 1984, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2012, 2013, 2015
10  Ireland 1971, 1973, 1974, 1980, 1992, 1993, 1997, 2007, 2008, 2017
8  Scotland 1972, 1976, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1990, 2010
3  Brittany 1977, 1978, 1986
1  Isle of Man 2014

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Gwyl Ban Geltaidd: History". Gŵyl Ban Geltaidd. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Koch, John (2005). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABL-CIO. pp. xx, 300, 421, 495, 512, 583, 985. ISBN 978-1-85109-440-0. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "Festival Interceltique de Lorient". Festival Interceltique (in Breton). Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "Kan rag Kernow". Maga Kernow. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "Flora Day inspired song wins competition to find Cornish song for Pan Celtic Festival". Falmouth Packet. 4 February 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Granger, Anthony (10 April 2015). "Pan Celtic: Cornwall wins Pan Celtic Song Contest 2015". Eurovoix. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  7. ^ "Pan Celtic National Song Contest 2015". Visual Carlow. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Caine, Valerie (8 April 2015). "Isle of Man: Manx Competitors Head for the Legenderry Pan Celtic Festival". Transceltic. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "ACG History". An Comunn Gàidhealach. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  10. ^ "Na h’Oganaich". Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  11. ^ "Rules – Cân i Gymru 2015". S4C. Archived from the original on 15 April 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  12. ^ Granger, Anthony (3 April 2017). "Wales confirms participation in Eurovision Choir of the Year 2017". Eurovoix. Retrieved 3 April 2017. 
  13. ^ "Côr Cymru 2017 competition conditions" (PDF). S4C. Retrieved 9 April 2017. 
  14. ^ "Pan Celtic Festival". An Comunn Gàidhealach. 27 April 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  15. ^ "Success at the Pan Celtic Festival". S4C. 6 May 2011. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  16. ^ a b Parker, Simon (30 April 2013). "Benjad scores Pan Celtic double with self-penned Breton love song". Western Morning News. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  17. ^ "Isle of Man New Song win at Pan Celtic festival". BBC News. 25 April 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  18. ^ Granger, Anthony (1 April 2016). "Pan Celtic Song Contest: Wales wins the 2016 contest". Eurovoix World. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 

External links[edit]