Máire Brennan

Máire Brennan

born on 4/8/1952 in Gweedore, Ulster, Ireland

Moya Brennan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Moya Brennan
Birth name Máire Philomena Ní Bhraonáin
Also known as Máire Brennan
'The Voice of Clannad[1]
'First Lady of Celtic Music'[2]
Born August 4 1952
Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland
Genres Irish Traditional
New Age
Occupations Singer
Years active 1970 present
Labels Atlantic Records
BMG Records
Word Records
BEO Records
Universal Music International
Website Official site
Official Myspace site
Notable instruments

Máire Philomena Ní Bhraonáin[3] (Irish pronunciation: [mar ni vinan]), better known as Máire Brennan or Moya Brennan (born 4 August 1952, Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland), is a Grammy Award-nominated[4] Celtic folksinger, songwriter, harpist and philanthropist. She began her singing career when her family formed the band Clannad in 1970,[5] and is widely regarded today as the "First Lady of Celtic Music".[6]

Musical upbringing

Brennan grew up as the eldest in a very musical family in the remote parish of Gweedore (Gaoth Dobhair), in the northwest of Ireland, a Gaeltacht area in which the Irish language and tradition continue to flourish. Her mother Máire (or Baba) was a music teacher and her father was a member of a cabaret band with whom she performed as a child. Moya is the eldest of nine children, her sisters are Deirdre, Eithne (now known as Enya), Olive, Brídín and her brothers are Ciarán, Pól, Leon and Bartley. She sang along with her siblings in the family pub, Leo's Tavern, in the village of Crolly. She also took part in many pantomimes in Amharclann Ghaoth Dobhair, the local theatre, usually dancing and singing. After leaving secondary school Brennan spent a few years at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin studying the harp, the piano and singing. She later taught music at Holy Cross College in Falcarragh, County Donegal.[7]

Years with Clannad

Main article: Clannad

It was during this time in 1970 that Brennan joined her two brothers Pól and Ciarán and their mother's two twin brothers Noel and Pádraig Ó Dúgáin and eventually formed Clannad. After enjoying a decade of being the world's foremost traditional Irish act, Clannad graduated to chart success in 1982 with the album Magical Ring. Brennan was at the forefront of the group's success and her voice suddenly became synonymous with celtic music and Irish music at the time. Brennan recorded 17 albums with Clannad and has won a Grammy, a BAFTA and an Ivor Novello award with the quintet. Her sister Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, who spent a while with Clannad, continues to pursue a very successful solo career under the name Enya.

Following their 2008 reunion tour, it was later announced that Moya would be working on a new unplugged album with Clannad for release in 2009.[8]

Solo career

Brennan released her first solo album in 1992, Máire, on Atlantic Records. Misty Eyed Adventures on BGM followed three years later. In 1998, Brennan signed with Word Records and released Perfect Time, and Whisper to the Wild Water a year later. The album was nominated in the Grammy Awards of 2001 for Best New Age Album. Brennan is managed by her husband Tim Jarvis and her brother Leon Ó Braonáin. Her music is usually classified as New Age or Celtic. She accepts the Celtic label, but has at times indicated a slight discomfort with being seen as "New Age" as much of her music is strongly Christian, with several of her songs centering on maintaining a relationship with Jesus Christ.[9] Some of her songs show influences from her Roman Catholic upbringing or seem relational due to her own views concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary.[10]

In 2000, she wrote an autobiography called The Other Side of the Rainbow. The same year she performed her song "Perfect Time" live at World Youth Day in Rome in front of crowds of pilgrims and Pope John Paul II. There were 2.1 million people present, making it the largest crowd ever gathered in the Northern Hemisphere. She considered it an honor as she believes in mutual respect among Christians.[11] Moya also recorded on the event's album, One. She recorded a duet with Booley, now known as Duke Special. The song, titled "Peace Has Broken Out", is about the Troubles in Ireland.

In film, she was featured vocalist on King Arthur (2004), co-writing the title theme "Tell Me Now (What You See)" with Hans Zimmer and wrote additional music score for To End All Wars (2001). In 1995 she duetted with Shane MacGowan with "You're the One" for the movie Circle of Friends. Brennan has collaborated with many other musicians, including Chicane, Alan Parsons, Bono, Robert Plant, Van Morrison, Michael McDonald from the Doobie Brothers, Bruce Hornsby, Joe Elliott, The Chieftains, Paul Young, Paul Brady, Michael Crawford, Joe Jackson and Ronan Keating.

In total Brennan has recorded 25 albums, and has sold 20 million records. Since 2002, she has promoted herself as Moya Brennan a spelling closely resembling the phonetic pronunciation of her name for those not familiar with the Irish variant of the spelling. Under this moniker she released an album entitled Two Horizons in 2003 under her new label, Universal. She has also collaborated with dance artist Chicane for performing the vocals on the single "Saltwater", which was also featured in the VisitScotland advertising campaign, as well as having been used by Fáilte Ireland to promote Ireland, and by Belfast city council, both in television adverts.

On 17 March 2004, she performed at the Speaker's Luncheon on Capitol Hill in front of President George W. Bush and Irish dignitaries.[12]

During the World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne she performed with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vigil in front of a million people and was also part of the official WYD CD Building On World.[13]

2006 saw the release of her Christmas album, simply entitled 'An Irish Christmas', although it was originally planned to bear the title 'Love Came Down. A year later, Brennan released her album 'Signature', which she described as a collection of snapshots of (Brennan's) life. The album featured only one Irish song but featured choruses and backing vocals in her native language throughout.

While touring with the latter album, during 2007 and 2008, Moya recorded several collaborations and guest vocals on albums by Iona, Joanne Hogg and with Grand Canal on Ireland's Official Olympic Anthem, Green to Gold. All three recordings were in aid of several charities.[14][15][16]

Her 2008-2009 live album Heart Strings was recorded with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Julie Feeney. Moya has toured to promote the album extensively in the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland and England.[17][18]

In 2009, Brennan recorded the official soundtrack on Maryland Public Television docufilm 'Intrepid Journal' which documents 50 years of American foreign policy, from WWII to 9-11.[19]

Moya Brennan has announced that she is working on a hymns album, possibly for Autumn 2009 release and will release a new unplugged album with Clannad in 2009 or 2010.[20][21]

Moya Brennan Band

Moya Brennan tours with a large band of musicians[22] who have each recorded solo projects in the past or have recorded with their own bands. The band includes harpist and television presenter Cormac de Barra. Between August 2008 and February 2009, two new members joined Moya's band, the first changes since her Two Horizons Tour, including Irish singer Daithí Rua.[23][24]

Current members

  • Cormac de Barra
  • Sinéad Madden
  • Éamonn Galldubh
  • Fionán de Barra
  • Paul Byrne
  • Yoshi Izumi
  • Hughie Boyle
  • Will Keating
  • Sam Jackson
  • Daithí Rua

Former members

  • Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn
  • Máire Breatnach
  • Rob Jones
  • Ewan Cowley
  • Feargal Murray
  • Deirdre Brennan
  • Tim Jarvis


Brennan and Clannad are credited with the creation of contemporary Celtic music and are held in high esteem for their vast contribution to bringing new life to old Irish songs. They have been compared to Seán Ó Riada, in that they brought the Irish language into popular culture through their music. One critic said: "Clannad's music offers a terrific fusion between traditional and modern influences."[25] It is Brennan's haunting voice that has left the most lasting legacy, it has become synonymic with Clannad's work and with Irish music in general. Her ethereal vocalization is considered the archetypal sound of Ireland and strains of her style have been acquired in the soundtracks to Titanic and Riverdance. Bono said of her voice: "I think Moya has one of the greatest voices the human ear has ever experienced."[26][27] Brennan is also famous for her harp playing, which she has featured on many Clannad records, with her album Two Horizons being based on the discovery of the harp.

Personal life


See also: The Other Side of the Rainbow

In 2000, she wrote an autobiography called The Other Side of the Rainbow, which was also translated into German (Mein Irisches Leben, Brunnen-Verlag).

In it Brennan recalls her upbringing as the eldest of nine siblings in rural County Donegal, Ireland. Along with the highs of success in the music business she also recounts low periods where alcohol, drugs and an abortion made her re-evaluate her life. She emerged from dark years as a committed Christian with rekindled faith. She remarried in 1991 (having previously been married to a Dublin musician) and now lives in Dublin, Ireland with husband, photographer Tim Jarvis, and children, Aisling and Paul. Brennan and her family are practicing members of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship.


Moya is Goodwill Ambassador for the international charity, Christian Blind Mission, and travels worldwide with the organisation, including recent trips to the Congo, Brazil and America.[28] Moya has, since becoming a Christian, been a supporter of Teen Challenge, a charity operating in Ireland and the USA and in 2008 she performed a concert to raise funds to build a new drug rehabilitation centre for the children.[29]


Moya Brennan is also a well-known philanthropist.

Christian Blind Mission

In 2003, Moya Brennan became Goodwill Ambassador to Christian Blind Mission Ireland (CBM). Brennan's first trip was to Congo-Kinshasa, with a group of five others. Due to violence, Moya was and her team fled civil unrest and were evacuated to Kenya. She later promised to return to the Congo, which she did in 2005 to airlift three children from isolated jungle villages to Kinshasa.[30][31]

In that same year, she travelled to Rwanda[32], where she kept a diary of her experiences. In 2005, she made an Irish-language documentary for TG4 during her visit to Congo, which was broadcast in 2007, and again in 2008 on both TG4 and RTÉ.

Moya also travelled to shanty-towns in Brazil and performed a fundraising event in the country with Assiria Nascemento in 2007. From there Moya travelled to Belize for the opening of a school for abused children, run by the Liberty Foundation and backed by CMB.[31] At the opening, Brennan brought together the Belizean Prime Minister Said Musa, Minister of Finance, Leader of the Opposition and UK Conservative Party member and businessman with extensive business interest in Belize, Lord Ashcroft.[31]

The following year, Brennan travelled to Tanzania and has played a major role in bringing the missions of the charity to the forefront. She has also performed concerts worldwide with other Christian Blind Mission Goodwill Ambassadors from Europe.[33]


Brennan performs various concerts in aid of charities and groups that work to rehabilitate those affected by drug addiction and alcohol dependency. She also practices religion with her family in Dún Laoghaire, at a church which also reaches out to young people affected by drug and alcohol misuse.

Nature preservation

With family band Clannad, Brennan has recorded numerous songs about the needed protection of the landscapes in Ireland and the devastation of pollution around the world. The first song about the matter was recorded for their début album and was called An Pháirc. Throughout Moya's solo career, she has recorded various songs on the issue including Big Yellow Taxi.

In July 2005, Brennan took part in a protest alongside poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh and locals of County Donegal to protest against the installation of electric cables across various areas of the county due to the harm it could cause to both people and the landscape.[34]

Other appointments and music

In 1985, Brennan along with her band members in Clannad donated their song "Almost Seems (Too Late To Turn)" to Children In Need, becoming the British charity appeal's first official single.

In 1986, Brennan performed alongside Bono, Bob Geldof and Chris de Burgh for Live Aid. She also performed with Clannad at the concert. Moya and Clannad have long been supporters of Amnesty International and contributed their single Rí na Cruinne to the organisation. Brennan has also attended various benefits in both Ireland and England, most notably alongside Van Morrison in 1996.

Moya has recorded dozens charitable singles and on many more albums with various artists, including Raphael's Journey by Joanne Hogg in 2008, Songs for Luca and Songs for Luca 2 by Iona and the official anthem for Ireland's 2008 Olympic bid, Green to Gold. Moya also donated her b-side, Ceolfaidh Mé to the Field of Hope album, which also features Bono and The Corrs.

In October 2008, Brennan was appointed director for Ireland's first Christian satellite radio station, UCB Ireland, which operates from Dublin.[35]


Solo studio albums

  • 1992 Máire
  • 1994 Misty Eyed Adventures
  • 1998 Perfect Time
  • 1999 Whisper to the Wild Water
  • 2003 Two Horizons
  • 2005 An Irish Christmas
  • 2006 Signature
  • 2009 (TBC) Hymns Album - as yet untitled

Solo live albums

  • 2005 Óró - A Live Session
  • 2007 Signature Special Tour Edition
  • 2008 Heart Strings


  • 1992 "Against the Wind"
  • 1992 "Jealous Heart"
  • 1993 "Big Yellow Taxi"
  • 1995 "You're the One" (with Shane MacGowan)
  • 1998 "Heal This Land"
  • 1998 "The Big Rock"
  • 1999 "Saltwater" (with Chicane)
  • 2000 "Follow the Word"
  • 2003 "Show Me"
  • 2003 "Tara"
  • 2003 "Saltwater" (with Chicane - re-issue)
  • 2005 "I'll See You Again/Hidden" (with Hazel O'Connor)
  • 2006 "No One Talks"
  • 2007 "Merry-Go-Round"
  • 2007 "Holiday Trio"
  • 2008 "Green to Gold" (with Grand Canal)

Charitable albums

  • 2005 A Future for the Michel (with Schiller)
  • 2008 Sanctuary (Various Artists)


  • 1987 Primitive Dance (Paul Brady) The Awaking (With Paul Brady)
  • 1990 Put 'em Under Pressure Single-Put 'em Under Pressure
  • 1991 Bring It All Back Home (An Emotional Fish)-Blue
  • 1994 Someone To Dance With (Sunny Condell)-Almond Skin, Dream Sequence
  • 1994 Night Music (Joe Jackson)-The Man Who Wrote Danny Boy (With Joe Jackson)
  • 1994 Symphonic Music Of The Rolling Stones- As Tears Go By
  • 1995 Circle Of Friends (Soundtrack)-You're The One (Duet with Shane MacGowan)
  • 1996 Common Ground: The Voices Of Modern Irish Music-O' Bhean A'Ti
  • 1998 On Egales Wings (Michael Crawford)-Amazing Grace (Duet with Michael Crawford)
  • 1998 Back to Titanic (Soundtrack)-Come Josephine, In My Flying Machine
  • 1999 Saltwater Single-Saltwater (With Chicane)
  • 1999 Streams-Don't Give Up (Duet with Michael McDonald)
  • 1999 The Time Machine (Alan Parsons Project)-The Call Of The Wild
  • 1999 Silent Night: A Christmas In Rome (The Chieftains)-Lullibies (Duet with Paola Cecchi)
  • 2000 The Voice-Saylon Dola (With Russell Watson)
  • 2000 The Greatest Story Ever Sung-No Scenes of Stately Majesty
  • 2000 The Way You Make Me Feel (Ronan Keating song)-Fairytale Of New York (Duet With Ronan Keating)
  • 2000 One-Peace Has Broken Out (Duet with Booley)
  • 2000 Fields Of Hope: Fight Against Famine-Ceolfidh Me
  • 2000 One Silent Night-Rose Of Bethlehem
  • 2001 New Irish Hymns (Maire Brennan, Margaret Becker & Joanna Hogg)-With The Early Morning, Like The Star Light, This Fragile Vessel
  • 2001 The Sound of Grace: Focusfest 2001-O Jesus Friend Unfailing
  • 2003 An Irish Holiday-Codail A Linbh (Sleep O Child)
  • 2004 King Arthur (Soundtrack)-Tell Me Now (What You See), All Of Them
  • 2004 Another World (Liam Lawton)-Labyrinth Prelude, Labyrinth
  • 2005 Hidden Heart (Hazel O'Conner)-Hidden (Duet with Hazel O'Conner)
  • 2005 Brian Kennedy On Song 2 (Brian Kennedy)-Beautiful Dreamer (with Brian Kennedy)
  • 2005 Day And Night (Schiller)-Miles And Miles, Falling
  • 2005 Rubicon (The Duggans)-Away, The Rubicon
  • 2008 The Two Of Us: The Duet Album (Christie Hennessy)-I Will Never Love Again (Duet With Christie Hennessy)
  • 2008 The Worship Lounge-You Are Beautiful

With Clannad

Main article: Clannad#Discography


  • 2008 Moments In a Lifetime, Noel Duggan

Detailing Clannad's journey as a band

  • 2001 The Other Side of the Rainbow, Máire Brennan with Angela Little

Later subtitled: The Autobiography of the Voice of Clannad

  • 2000 Ireland: Landscapes of God's Peace, Máire Brennan

sometimes called God of Peace

  • 1991 A Woman's Voice

Eddie Rowley in conversation with Máire Brennan

  • 1989 Past Present

Sheet music book for 'Past Present'


  1. TicketMaster listing
  2. Moya Brennan Releases EMI Signature CMG Sparrow Celtic Music | Christian Music
  3. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article6301871.ece
  4. Beliefnet.com
  5. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/3672589.stm
  6. http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/news/Signature_Tunes/23128/p1/
  7. http://enya.sk/articles/maire-quotes.htm
  8. New Clannad Album
  9. Moya Brennan - Two Horizons Interview
  10. Beliefnet.com
  11. Moya Brennan : Books
  12. Whats On at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall
  13. Various, The XX World Youth Day Compilation: Building One World - music review - word-on-the-web - Church Army
  14. Songs for Luca 2
  15. Raphaels Journey
  16. Green to Gold Cover
  17. Official Heart Strings Details announced!
  18. News Archives at MoyaBrennan.com
  19. Moya Brennan records new soundtrack - Northern Skyline
  20. Celtic Christian Spirit (Audio Interview)
  21. New Clannad album
  22. The Band - MoyaBrennan.com
  23. New Moya Brennan band member!
  24. Moya's new band member
  25. [Calgary Irish Cultural Society http://www.calgaryics.org/MoyaBrennan2.htm]
  26. Outside it's Donegal HotPress.com
  27. January 31st Mooney. RTÉ Radio
  28. Moya Brennan visits South America as goodwill ambassador :: Inspire Magazine
  29. Moya Sings for Drug Addiction Centre > Northern Skyline
  30. RTÉ journeys to the Congo with Moya Brennan
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Christian Today
  32. Moya Brennan CBM.ie
  33. Tour Date Archive Brennan family
  34. Donegal County.com Newsletter July 2005
  35. Moya Brennan directs new Christian radio station

External links

  • Moya Brennan's official website
  • Moya Brennan at MusicBrainz

This page was last modified 23.10.2009 00:00:49

This article uses material from the article Moya Brennan from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.