They have become one of Ireland’s greatest musical acts and are ready to sign off after decades at the top of their game.
Clannad have remained loyal to their unique sound and it has made them a unique force in traditional music that may never be seen again.
But Moya Brennan has revealed how the band were laughed at in the early days of their career when the world was very unsure how to take the band from West Donegal
The band are marking their 50-year career with an end of year collection of their music that is set to be a worldwide hit with fans.
Their In A Lifetime Anthology is available in several formats and neatly wraps up their incredible contribution to the world of music that includes a collaboration with U2’s Bono on the song, In A Lifetime.
Singer Moya Brennan said that when they finish their final tour next year – including their last Irish date at Dublin’s 3Arena in February – they will continue to pursue solo projects.
“It will be the end of Clannad, but we will still continue with music in our own way, we have all got different projects,” Moya told the Sunday World.
Looking back on their career, Moya pointed out that when they started off in the family bar, Leo’s Tavern, “singing Gaelic songs and being laughed at,” it seemed highly unlikely that they would become pop stars.
However, Clannad would have the last laugh after they went on to achieve international success when they wrote the theme music for the British TV drama series, Harry’s Game, in 1982.
It led to them performing the song on BBC’s Top Of The Pops that year.
“We stuck to our guns and there we were on Top Of The Pops singing a Gaelic song,” Moya laughs. “You couldn’t write it.”
Looking back on her collaboration with Bono in 1986, Moya says that Clannad caught the ear of the U2 star after the release of Harry’s Game.
“Bono has often said he nearly drove off the road when he heard Harry’s Game for the first time. “There was a huge respect there,” she reveals.
“When he came into the studio it was just magic. It was meant to be and the song itself proves it.
“You meet young people now and they say, ‘Was that you?’ They don’t think of it as an old song, but it’s a song that is now a bit of a classic.”
Moya has a huge fondness and respect for Bono “People criticise him for sticking his nose into things, but he’s got a name and a platform and he’s so passionate about things…fair play to him, he’s absolutely amazing,” she says.
Her brother, Clannad member Pól Brennan, agrees: “Between himself and Bob Geldof, the kind of stuff they were at you’d be very proud of them. It (In A Lifetime) was a great connection and I think he’s very proud of the song as well.
“We’ve had an amazing journey and we’ve been blessed with how we’ve been able to keep going this long as a family.
Pól agrees: “When we sat down as a garage band and played and were experimenting in the ‘70s, who would have thought that 50 years later we’d still be doing the 3Arena or travelling the world with our music.”
After Harry’s Game, Clannad did the theme tune to ITV drama Robin of Sherwood, which featured on their 1984 album, Legend. “Robin took us to another level doing that type of music and there were 26 episodes,” Pól says.
This was followed by the Bono collaboration on In A Lifetime. “That was a turning point,” Pól says of those three landmarks.
“Before them we were an independent folk band. Then that happened and it changed the trajectory of the band, it changed our lives.”
Clannad would go on to sell 15 million albums and win prestigious awards that include a Grammy, a BAFTA, an Ivor Novello and a Billboard Music Award.
It was beyond their dreams. “You may dream, but you didn’t ever dream that,” Pól laughs.
Their farewell show at Dublin’s 3Arena on February 18 will be poignant for many reasons, not least the recent death of band member Noel Duggan, who was their uncle. “It’s sad that he won’t be with us because he was so looking forward to it,” Moya adds.
CLANNAD play the 3Arena on February 18. Their In A Lifetime Anthology is out now.