Theme from Harry's Game

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"Theme from Harry's Game"
Original 7" cover
Single by Clannad
from the album Magical Ring
ReleasedOctober 1982
RecordedWindmill Studios, Dublin, Ireland
GenreCeltic, new-age
Songwriter(s)Pól Brennan, Ciarán Brennan
Producer(s)Richard Dodd
Clannad singles chronology
"Strayed Away"
"Theme from Harry's Game"
"I See Red"
Audio sample
1993 US single cover
Theme From Harry's Game 1993 cover.jpg

"Theme from Harry's Game" is a song performed by the Irish group Clannad, which was written and composed by Pól Brennan and Ciarán Brennan.[1] Released as a single in October 1982, the song served as the main track from their album Magical Ring.[2] However, the song was initially written and composed for the Yorkshire Television production Harry's Game, which depicted The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The song reached #5 in the United Kingdom Singles Chart in November 1982. It was also a huge success in Ireland, the band's home country, where it reached #2.

The lyrics are in the Irish language, and the song is to date the only British hit single ever to have been sung entirely in Irish.[3] The chorus, "Fol lol the doh fol the day, Fol the doh fol the day," is ancient Irish mouth-music which is common in traditional music.[4] The song won an Ivor Novello award, and launched Clannad's global career. It has since appeared in several Hollywood movies, most notably Patriot Games, in which an IRA member is seen watching the music video for the song on his television. Its use in a Volkswagen commercial introduced Clannad to an American audience.

Clannad's debut trans-Atlantic album, Anam, was released in the United States in 1992 and became an enormous American success - spurred on by a strong reaction to "Harry's Game," including extensive video exposure on VH1. The song went on to garner the Billboard Music Award for World Music Song Of The Year[5]

The song also features on Clannad's vocalists's live albums, the 2005 album Óró - A Live Session and the 2008 Moya Brennan solo album Heart Strings. The original has also been sampled various times by artists such as Kaleef and Elate. Moya Brennan recorded a solo version at Mothership Studio for dance musician Chicane, which he used on his UK top 10 hit "Saltwater."


The lyrics to the song were written to depict the story of The Troubles among all sides in Northern Ireland and the future of the sides (Nationalist, Republican, Unionist and Loyalist). Moya Brennan, while explaining how Clannad was "about the music and never political," explained the meaning behind the song. The lyrics, derived from an ancient text from Galway, explain how in war and in violence, no side will win.[3]

Track listing[edit]

  1. Theme From Harry's Game – 2:30
  2. Strayed Away – 2:47

Chart history[edit]

Chart (1982) Peak
Irish Singles Chart 2
Dutch Top 40 9
Swedish Singles Chart 16
UK Singles Chart 5

1989 Theme from Harry's Game / Hourglass AA-side[edit]

In 1989, as part of the promotion for their compilation Pastpresent, Clannad re-released the "Theme from Harry's Game" as an AA-side single with their new song "Hourglass."

1992 Patriot Games re-release[edit]

The song was recorded at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin.

In 1992, the "Theme from Harry's Game" was used in the soundtrack to the film Patriot Games, and it was also re-released as a single. There were two versions of the CD single, a two-track and a four-track version, both with the same cover and catalogue number.

Track listing[edit]

7" single, cassette, 5" compact disc

  1. "Theme from Harry's Game"
  2. "Robin (The Hooded Man)"

5" compact disc

  1. "Theme from Harry's Game"
  2. "Robin (The Hooded Man)"
  3. "In a Lifetime"
  4. "Closer to your Heart"

1993 Jameson Whiskey re-release[edit]

In 1993, in connection with an advertising campaign for Jameson Whiskey, both "Theme from Harry's Game" and "In A Lifetime" were re-released in The Netherlands.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Theme from Harry's Game"
  2. "Caisleán Óir"

Cover versions and other use[edit]

The song has been covered by artists including Phil Coulter[6] and Celtic Woman.[7] The Irish rock band U2 also used the song in their concerts in the 1980s. The song would play after the end of their concerts, and it can be heard as such at the beginning and end of their live film U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky.[8] It has also been used extensively by the RAF for the decommissioning flypasts of the Avro Vulcan Delta wing bomber, and subsequently in memorial flights at airshows.[9]


  1. ^ Album liner notes
  2. ^ "Clannad".
  3. ^ a b "Moya Brennan at Musical Discoveries".
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-11-08. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  5. ^ "Clannad -".
  6. ^ "Legends". 25 February 1997 – via Amazon.
  7. ^ "Celtic Woman". 22 May 2006 – via Amazon.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-03-30. Retrieved 2007-09-29.
  9. ^ "Vulcan index".

External links[edit]