Celtic Thunder

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Celtic Thunder
Origin Ireland
Years active 2007–current
Labels Decca, Verve (formerly) Legacy (2014-current)
Website Official website
Members Neil Byrne
Emmet Cahill
Ryan Kelly
Damian McGinty
Michael O'Dwyer (singer)
Past members Paul Byrom
George Donaldson (deceased)
Daniel Furlong
Keith Harkin
Colm Keegan
Emmett O'Hanlon

Celtic Thunder is an Irish singing group and stage show known for its eclectic, theatrical style show. The group is backed by the Celtic Thunder Band on their concert tours, and their live shows are known for the use of dramatic set pieces (often invoking symbols of ancient Celtic mythology), visual effects, and highly choreographed staging.

Since the original group's formation in 2007, Celtic Thunder has released twelve albums as well as ten live performances on DVD, 3 of which were split into two releases.


Celtic Thunder debuted in August 2007 at The Helix in Dublin, Ireland.[1] They are accompanied by the Celtic Concert Orchestra under the direction of Phil Coulter, the musical director of the group.

In December 2008, 2009 and 2011, Billboard magazine named Celtic Thunder Top World Album Artist.[2] Their first three albums also placed in the top 10 for World Albums.

In March 2009, Celtic Thunder opened the Saint Patrick's Day Parade in New York City.

On November 28, 2010, Celtic Thunder member Paul Byrom announced his resignation from the group to begin a solo career. He left the group when the 2010 concert tour was over. Byrom released his album This is the Moment in November 2011. He has also appeared as a singer of the national anthem at Boston Celtics' games. In March 2013, he recorded his first PBS special to be aired later in the year.

In 2011, Damian McGinty (the group's youngest member) entered and won the Oxygen reality show The Glee Project. On August 21, 2011, McGinty announced on The Glee Project's Live Viewing Party, that he would be stepping down from Celtic Thunder due to his new role on Glee.[3]

During their 2012 tour, Colm Keegan was asked to stand in for Ryan Kelly, who was hurt in a fall. After Kelly returned, Keegan was asked to become a permanent member of the group.

On October 15, 2012, Celtic Thunder performed at The Pentagon.

In December 2012, Celtic Thunder performed an unplugged concert at the Sullivan Hall, New York, in front of an audience of just over 300 people. The concert was in aid of the victims of Hurricane Sandy and resulted in approximately $50,000 being raised.

On January 13, 2014, after three years with Celtic Thunder, Emmet Cahill announced his decision to leave Celtic Thunder via his Facebook fan page.

On March 12, 2014, Sharon Browne announced that George Donaldson, one of the five original Celtic Thunder principal singers since the Celtic Thunder auditions in August 2007, died of a heart attack. He was preparing for the Celtic Thunder Australian tour in May. Celtic Thunder made their ‘Mythology’ tour as a homage to him.

On April 3, 2014, Emmet Cahill announced that he would once again be joining the "Thunderheads" on the Australia tour to pay homage to Donaldson.

On April 5, 2014, it was unofficially announced that Emmett O'Hanlon would be filling the place of Emmet Cahill after his departure. His last appearance with Celtic Thunder will be on the Celtic Thunder Cruise II in November 2014.

On November 24, 2014, it was announced that Damian McGinty would be rejoining Celtic Thunder as a temporary guest artist for their 2015 Very Best Of Celtic Thunder Tour.

On December 16, 2015, Colm Keegan announced that he will be taking a break from touring with Celtic Thunder for a year and will be recording a new solo album. Emmet Cahill rejoined Celtic Thunder to replace Keegan.

On April 26, 2016, Keith Harkin announced his departure from the group to focus on his solo career. On that same day, it was announced that Michael O'Dwyer will be replacing him.


Creative team[edit]

  • Creator and producer – Sharon Browne
  • Production director – Mark Jones
  • Musical director – David Munro
  • Set & Lighting Designer, Katie Johnston
  • Front of House Audio Engineer, Stuart McInnes
  • Monitor Audio Engineer, Craig Bruce
  • Stage Manager, Andreas Linde-Buchner
  • Stage Director, Belinda Murphy
  • Marketing Manager, Jean Clancy
  • Online Merchandise Manager – Declan Browne
  • Tour Merchandise Manager – Matthew Browne

Current members[edit]

The current members of Celtic Thunder are (in alphabetical order of family name):

  • Neil Byrne, (born November 16, 1977) is from County Wicklow, Ireland. After playing guitar and singing backup on the previous albums, he became a featured soloist beginning with the show and album Heritage. He and fellow Celtic Thunder member Ryan Kelly collaborated on a solo album entitled "Acoustically Irish" in 2013, inspired by the success of the duo's "Acoustic By Candlelight" shows outside of Celtic Thunder.
  • Emmet Cahill (born October 18, 1990) is from Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland. He received a university degree in Music Performance from the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Emmet auditioned for Celtic Thunder in June 2010 and was asked to join after Paul Byrom announced his resignation. After 3 years with Celtic Thunder, on January 13, 2014, via his Facebook fan page, Emmet announced his decision to leave Celtic Thunder.[4] He then announced on April 3, 2014, that he would be coming back for the Australian tour to pay homage to George. His solo album is set to be released in 2015 along with a US tour. He rejoined Celtic Thunder in 2015 after Colm announced his departure from the group.
  • Ryan Kelly (born November 6, 1978), is from The Moy, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. He holds two degrees from the Queen's University Belfast, having earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and also a Graduate Diploma in Advanced Accounting, qualifying Ryan to be a chartered accountant. In the fall of 2010, Ryan released his first solo album "In Time".[5][6][7] His second solo CD, "Life", was released in late 2013. He and fellow Celtic Thunder member Neil Byrne also collaborated on an album entitled "Acoustically Irish" in 2013, inspired by the success of the duo's "Acoustic By Candlelight" shows outside of Celtic Thunder.
  • Damian McGinty (born September 9, 1992), is from Derry, Northern Ireland.[8] He has been the youngest "longterm" member of the band, joining in August 2007, just a couple of weeks before turning 15. McGinty won his first singing contest at the age of five. He recorded the first Celtic Thunder album when he was fourteen years old. McGinty lists Michael Buble, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra among his inspirations.[5] On April 29, 2011, it was announced that Damian was chosen as one of 12 contenders for The Glee Project, a reality series on the Oxygen Network. He tied for first and had a guest starring role in the third season of the Fox hit TV show Glee. He debuted on Glee season 3 episode 4 Pot o' Gold. Though originally awarded a seven-episode arc, his run-time was later extended to 18 episodes including a guest appearance in season 4's Glee Actually. In the summer of 2013, Damian joined Paul Byrom for "The Me and My Shadow" Tour. McGinty also performed as a special guest on Ethan Bortnick's "The Power of Music" PBS special and tour. On November 24, 2014, it was announced that Damian McGinty would rejoin Celtic Thunder as a guest artist for their 2015 "The Very Best of Celtic Thunder" Tour and their new show, "Legacy".
  • Michael O'Dwyer is the newest member of Celtic Thunder. He joined Celtic Thunder in April 2016 when Keith Harkin announced his departure from the group.

Past members[edit]

The past members of Celtic Thunder are (in alphabetical order of family name):

  • Paul Byrom (born April 11, 1979) is from Dublin, Ireland.[9] In addition to Celtic Thunder, he has also performed at major sporting events in Ireland and abroad, including singing at the All Ireland Finals in Dublin's Croke Park and at Heinz Field for a Pittsburgh Steelers game in the USA. He has also performed for Ireland's President, Mary McAleese, and for Emperor Akihito of Japan. Byrom has released two albums: Velvet and I'll Be Home For Christmas. Byrom resigned to pursue a solo career in the US and left the group after the 2010 Celtic Thunder tour was over. He was replaced by Emmet Cahill. In December 2011, he released a CD, This Is The Moment. He released the DVD two years later with a PBS Special. Paul and long-time girlfriend Dominique Coulter (daughter of former CT Musical Director Phil Coulter) were married August 30, 2013, in his hometown of Blackrock, Ireland.[5] He performed with two original Celtic Woman members Chloë Agnew and Lisa Kelly in the concert called Lisa Kelly: The Voice of Ireland. In October 2014, after living in New York for three years Paul returned to Ireland to live. He still actively tours the United States.
  • George Donaldson (February 1, 1968 - March 12, 2014), was the oldest member of the group and was a well-known balladeer, guitarist and flautist from Glasgow, Scotland. Donaldson was a bus builder by trade and was self-taught as a musician. At Scotland's Celtic Park, Donaldson played to 65,000 fans at the opening match of the 2000-2001 season. He released his new solo album "The World In My Mind" in April/May 2013.[5] Big George, as he was affectionately known, died on 12 March 2014 in his home town of Glasgow after suffering a heart attack while he was sleeping. He was survived by his wife Carolyn and daughter Sarah. In January 2015, Carolyn announced that George's secret album "The Road" would be released February 2015.
  • Keith Harkin (born June 10, 1986), is from Derry, Northern Ireland. He plays the guitar and piano and has written several songs featured in the Celtic Thunder shows, including the songs "Lauren and I" and "All Day Long". Keith released a solo album in Canada on September 4, 2012, and in the United States on September 18, 2012. On April 13, 2015, Keith announced that he had become engaged to Kelsey Nichols while on a trip to Bali the year before.[5] He released his solo album, "On Mercy Street, on March 11, 2016. On April 26, 2016, Keith announced that he was taking a leave of absence from the group to further his solo career. Keith and Kelsey were married on July 2, 2016 in Keith's hometown. On November 11, 2016, he released "Nollaig," his solo Christmas album.
  • Colm Keegan (born August 2, 1989) is from Dublin, Ireland. He attended University College Dublin on a music scholarship, graduating in 2011 with an honors degree in Music and Irish. Keegan auditioned for and was selected for Celtic Thunder in May 2012 as a new vocalist, becoming a sixth member of the previously five-man group. He was selected when Ryan had an accident and had to temporarily leave the group. He was formerly a member of the Aontas Choral Ensemble, who are known for their work with Celtic Woman. Colm appeared in the Celtic Woman DVDs 'Songs From The Heart' (2010) and 'Believe' (2012). He announced that he would take a year's departure from the group to finish university. He had a solo album in the works, set for tentative release in 2016.[needs update] On August 26, 2016, Colm married Laura Durrant, who was the cello player in the band, in Scotland. Both have decided not to tour with Celtic Thunder this year. On February 2, 2017 Laura and Colm welcome their first child, a boy named Oisin James Keegan.
  • Emmett O'Hanlon (born July 9, 1990) is considered Irish-American. O'Hanlon joined CT in April 2014 to fill the position left open upon Emmet Cahill's departure. O'Hanlon first met Celtic Thunder producer Sharon Browne in New York City, where she invited him to audition for the show. He is a natural fit with the rest of the soloists in Celtic Thunder. He took part in the USA Fall Tour November 2014.[needs update] In April 2016, O'Hanlon announced he would be taking a leave of absence from the group in order to focus on his opera career.

Member timeline[edit]

  • Neil Byrne began in 2007 as a backup singer and guitar player before becoming a featured soloist.


  • Dave Bakey - guitar, mandolin, banjo
  • Seána Davey - harp, concertina
  • Laura Durrant - cello, double bass
  • Nicole Hudson - violin
  • David Munro - piano, musical director
  • John O'Brien - pipes, whistles, bodhran, mandolin
  • Declan O'Donoghue - drums

Concerts, tours, and discography[edit]

On December 17, 2008, Celtic Thunder completed their 2008 US tour of fifty cities. They also toured the United States extensively in fall 2009. For spring 2009 they focused on touring Canada, while also playing some concerts in the northeastern US.[10]

During their 2008 fall tour, Celtic Thunder sold over 125,000 tickets in 49 shows and placed twentieth in the Star Tour Poll.[citation needed]

Celtic Thunder's first studio album and first concert special DVD were released on March 18, 2008. The album was titled Celtic Thunder and the concert special was titled The Show. It was filmed at The Helix in Dublin, Ireland, on August 2007.

The second studio album was released on September 16, 2008, titled Act Two. It included the rest of the songs from The Show.

The third studio album and second concert special DVD, both titled Take Me Home, were released July 14, 2009. Take Me Home was filmed at Casino Rama, Orillia (north of Toronto), while the group was on tour in 2009. It is considered a live concert DVD rather than a studio production.

The fourth studio album and third concert special DVD, both titled It's Entertainment!, were released on February 9, 2010. It was filmed alongside Storm at the Toronto International Centre Hall 5 (a.k.a. Arrow Hall), Toronto, Ontario, on October 1, 2009, and October 2, 2009.

After It's Entertainment!, Celtic Thunder fans sent many requests to Sharon Browne[citation needed] for a Christmas-themed album and an album containing more Irish music. Through these efforts, Christmas and Heritage came to be, postponing the release of Storm.

The fifth studio album, titled Christmas, was released on October 12, 2010, and the concert special DVD, also titled Christmas, was released on November 22, 2010. Christmas was filmed alongside Heritage at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York, on September 17, 2010.

The sixth studio album and fifth concert special DVD titled Heritage was released on February 22, 2011. Heritage was filmed alongside Christmas at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York, on September 17, 2010.

The seventh studio album and sixth DVD, titled Storm, was released on September 20, 2011 (originally recorded in 2009). Storm, unlike Celtic Thunder's other DVDs, is not just a filmed concert but has a storyline, an elaborate set establishing a location, and costumes which help to define the singers' and dancers' characters within the story. It makes use of the It's Entertainment cast which is Celtic Thunder's largest to date (25) and features singer Deirdre Shannon, a former member of Celtic Woman.

The eighth studio album and seventh concert special DVD, titled Voyage, was released on February 28, 2012. It was originally set to be filmed on September 27, 2011, but due to changes, this filming was cancelled. The search for a new venue began on October 3, 2011, and resulted in a filming date of October 18, 2011, in Kansas City, Missouri, at the Midland Theater.

The eighth concert special DVD, companion DVD to Voyage for online purchase only, is titled Voyage II and was released on June 25, 2012. The CD of the same name was released on September 1, 2012, not available in stores.

The 2012 Celtic Thunder North American tour was called the Voyage tour.

The ninth concert DVD special is called "Mythology". It was filmed in early 2013 at the Helix Theater in Dublin, Ireland. Featuring a Celtic Cross, the stage setting is one of the most ambitious. The tour began in August 2013, with stops in Canada and the United States and to finish in Australia June 2014.

The tenth DVD, entitled "Live and Unplugged" features a live more personal show at Sullivan Hall in New York. The concert was a benefit concert for the victims effected by Hurricane Sandy.

The eleventh DVD put out by Celtic Thunder was titled Home. The DVD has many fan favorites and pre-recorded CT songs in the background of the beautiful Irish scenery.

In November and December 2014 Celtic Thunder will be touring the Eastern United States with songs from their Christmas CD Christmas Voices. This will be the first Celtic Thunder symphony tour with symphonies such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.[needs update]

Discography and videography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Title Date of release Media format Featured soloists Notes
Celtic Thunder- The Show March 18, 2008 CD & DVD Byrom, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty
Celtic Thunder: Act Two September 16, 2008 CD Byrom, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty
Celtic Thunder: Take Me Home July 14, 2009 CD & DVD Byrom, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty
Celtic Thunder: It's Entertainment! February 9, 2010 CD & DVD Byrne, Byrom, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty
Celtic Thunder: Christmas October 12, 2010 CD & DVD Byrne, Byrom, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty
Celtic Thunder: Heritage February 22, 2011 CD & DVD Byrne, Byrom, Cahill, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty
Celtic Thunder: Storm September 20, 2011 CD & DVD Byrne, Byrom, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty recorded in 2009
Celtic Thunder: Voyage February 28, 2012 CD & DVD Byrne, Cahill, Furlong, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty
Celtic Thunder: Voyage II June 25, 2012 CD & DVD Byrne, Byrom, Cahill, Furlong, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty for online purchase only, re-released 2015 as New Voyage
Celtic Thunder: Mythology February 19, 2013 CD & DVD Byrne, Cahill, Donaldson, Harkin, Keegan, Kelly also available as 2 CD deluxe edition
Celtic Thunder: Christmas Voices October 11, 2013 CD Byrne, Cahill, Donaldson, Harkin, Keegan, Kelly re-released 2014 as Holiday Symphony, 2015 as The Classic Christmas Album
The Very Best Of Celtic Thunder March 13, 2015 CD Byrom, Byrne, Cahill, Donaldson, Harkin, Keegan, Kelly, McGinty, O'Hanlon also features re-recorded tracks to include Keegan and O'Hanlon
Celtic Thunder: Legacy, Vol. 1 February 26, 2016 CD, DVD, Blu-ray, Vinyl Byrne, Harkin, Keegan, Kelly, McGinty, O'Hanlon McGinty is credited as "special guest"
Celtic Thunder: Legacy, Vol. 2 August 12, 2016 CD, DVD Byrne, Harkin, Keegan, Kelly, McGinty, O'Hanlon only available through PBS pledge drive until it will be officially released in fall 2016

In 2015 Legacy re-released the whole Celtic Thunder back-catalogue, including re-releases of Celtic Thunder, Celtic Thunder: Act Two, Take Me Home, It's Entertainment!, Christmas (with new art work), Heritage, Storm, Voyage, New Voyage (originally entitled Voyage II), Mythology and The Classic Christmas Album (originally entitled Holiday Symphony). Some of the songs originally sung by Paul Byrom got re-recorded by Emmett O'Hanlon or Colm Keegan. All tracklists were revised.


Title Date of release Media format Notes
Celtic Thunder: Ireland's Call 2010 CD QVC bonus CD released along with It's Entertainment!, includes 5 tracks
Celtic Thunder: The Irish Collection 2011 CD 11-track compilation released along with Storm, includes 1 new recording
Celtic Thunder: Heartland 2012 CD plus DVD 15-track compilation
Celtic Thunder: Islands 2013 CD 12-track compilation released for Celtic Thunder Cuise 2013; includes 2 new recordings
Celtic Thunder: Home 2013 DVD includes fan favorites from previous DVDs
Celtic Thunder: Myths & Legends October 25, 2013 CD plus DVD Australian exclusive package; behind the scenes DVD plus 14-track CD Mythology leftovers
Celtic Thunder: My Land April 18, 2014 CD plus DVD Australian exclusive package; documentary DVD plus 8-track CD including Mythology leftovers
George 2014 CD & DVD 16-track George Donaldson tribute album
Celtic Horizons 2014 CD 16-track compilation released for Celtic Thunder Cuise 2014
Celtic Thunder: Celtic Roots Myths & Legends October 30, 2015 3 CDs plus 3 DVDs amazon.com exclusive set including the complete Mythology recording session

Live albums[edit]

Title Date of release Media format Featured soloists Notes
Celtic Thunder: Live & Unplugged at Sullivan Hall New York 2013 CD & DVD Byrne, Cahill, Donaldson, Harkin, Keegan, Kelly filmed in December 2012


  1. ^ 21, WLIW (June 30, 2008). "Celtic Thunder in Dublin". WLIW21. Retrieved June 30, 2008. 
  2. ^ "World Albums Artists - Year-End 2009". Billboard.com. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  3. ^ The Glee Project 
  4. ^ "Emmet Cahill Official Music Facebook". Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Celtic Thunder (2008-06-30). "Biographies". Celtic Thunder. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  6. ^ Celtic Thunder (2011-05-12). "Ryan Kelly's blog". Celtic Thunder. Retrieved 2011-05-26. 
  7. ^ Celtic Thunder (2011-08-22). "Wow, What A Night - August 22, 2011 in". Celtic Thunder. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 
  8. ^ "Individuality". The Glee Project. Season 1. Episode 1. June 12, 2011. 12:07 minutes in. Oxygen. 
  9. ^ Celtic Thunder. "Celtic Thunder - Artists". Celtic Thunder. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  10. ^ Celtic Thunder (March 17, 2010). "Celtic Thunder Tour Dates in". Tour Dates. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 

External links[edit]