Moya Brennan, the lead vocalist of Clannad wrote on twitter yesterday “My dear uncle and Clannad member Padraig Duggan passed away peacefully this morning. Rest in Peace Padraig”. Pádraig, who was 67, was suffering from a reoccurring illness.
Pádraig had been a member of Clannad for 40 years. That fact in itself brought memories flooding back. Many of you will recall them performing the theme song to Harry’s Game which became a hit in ’82 leading to them being the first band to perform in the Irish language on Top of the Pops.
Then there was the music of Robin of Sherwood TV Series. But the roots of Clannad go a lot further back. The Brennan’s father, Leo, who died last June, had his own band before settling in Gweedore, Donegal where he opened the now world-famous Leo’s Tavern in 1968. Together with his wife Máire, “her brothers Noel and Pádraig and her cousin John McFadden, Collhane, the roof was re-slated, windows replaced, a new bar installed and the pub furnished. Repairs and refurbishment cost just over half of the initial acquisition cost.”
The Brennan family were exposed to a lot of music from a young age through their father and mother, something that clearly left its mark. From their first performances in Leo’s Tavern, where regular Irish sessions were held, the children would often sing pop songs of the day in Irish Gaelic.
The Brennans’ and Duggans’ formed Clannad in 1970 (originally Clann As Dobhar, later changed to Clannad in 1973) after being encouraged to enter a music competition. They began to play gigs outside of Gweedore and developed their sound still further before releasing their self-titled debut album (1973) on Philips Ireland.
In the early 1970s, Gael Linn began to take on a greater importance as interest in Irish folk music and language grew. A concert was held to mark its 21st anniversary which saw the grouping of seven musicians who took the name of Seachtar (seven in Irish) – Tony McMahon, Paddy Glackin, Tommy Peoples, Matt Molloy, Paddy Keenan, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill and Mícheál Ó Domhnaill. From this grouping would emerge The Bothy Band, formed by Donal Lunny after he left Planxty in 1974.
For their second album, simply titled Clannad 2, Clannad signed to Gael Linn and turned to Donal Lunny to produce the album. Electronics were included via Lunny on synthesiser although this was nowhere near as obvious as it would be on their later music. Here they are performing Teidhir Abhaile Riú in 1977 which features on Clannad 2.
Performing in 1982 on BBC TV “As I Roved Out” with a young Enya. Guests Arty McGlynn and Conan McGrath.
Like Christy Moore and Donal Lunny’s Moving Hearts, Clannad made a successful transition from the traditional to contemporary, combining influences from modern rock, jazz and pop. Their move towards more electronic music became more apparent in the mid 1980’s on albums like Macalla which featured a duet with U2’s Bono.
Today they are more known for their new-age sound.
After winning a Grammy for their album Landmarks in 1998 Noel and Pádraig Ó Dúgáin took a break from Clannad and toured extensively with their band Norland Wind.
In 2005 they released their first studio album Rubicon, which featured Moya Brennan, Finbar Furey and Orla Fallon among others. Most recently he contributed music to 1916, Souls of Freedom, a short film to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.
He is survived by his wife Jan.