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Clarecastle fundraising gig for Celtic Tenors

AFTER 12 years together, the Celtic Tenors are in demand throughout the world and they will be in Clarecastle for a pre-Christmas show next month.


The group will be performing at Ss Paul and Peter’s Church on Thursday, December 20.

The Tenors are Daryl Simpson, Matthew Gilsenan and James Nelson. Lord of the Dance star Deirdre Shannon will be their guest on the night and they will perform Christmas songs, along with classics such as Nessun Dorma, Time to Say Goodbye, Nella Fantasia, She Moved Through The Fair and Red Haired Mary.

The trio have established themselves as perhaps the most successful classical crossover artists ever to emerge from this country.

Speaking to The Clare Champion last week, James said the group have sung in the county several times and he has a few personal ties to it.

“We performed in Scariff at a festival last year. We’ve performed in Ennis a few times as well and we were at the Maritime Festival in Kilkee. I used to go on holidays in Clare all the time, to Corofin and Lough Inchiquin. My sister worked in Tulla for a few years, as well, as a veterinary nurse so there are lots of Clare links.”

He said there will be a lot of Christmas songs on the night. “We’re heading off to America in a few days for a three-week tour. We go over there two or three times a year. We’re not allowed call it Christmas in America, it’s a ‘holiday’, so we’re doing holiday shows there and when we come back because it’s so close to Christmas, a third or a quarter of the show will be Christmas songs. We’ll still be doing our own songs as well. Just last year, we released a new album and we’ll be doing songs from that and songs that people expect us to sing from the 13 years we’ve been together.”

The group started after the original members were all involved in the same opera. “We met in the opera and the classical world in Ireland is very small. There was one change of line-up six years ago but the three of us that are in the group at the moment were all in the same opera together in 1999 in Dublin, with Opera Ireland. We’ve known each other for at least 13 years.”

They signed for EMI in 2000 and have now recorded eight albums. They have won acclaim around the world and spend a lot of the year touring. The regular touring is something he still enjoys.

“The other two guys are married, Matthew has three kids so it has to be hard for him but he’s still loving it as well. Daryl got married last year too but I love the travel, I have to say, I love touring still. We went to China this year and saw quite a bit. It was amazing but the food was a challenge sometimes. The audiences in China were incredible too.”

While they spend months together, he feels it’s important that they have their own separate lives too.

“I go to Africa once or maybe twice a year and that’s kind of become my life in a way, working with Aids orphans in Nairobi, building orphanages and doing music with the kids there.”

The tenors sing quite a varied selection of songs. “It’s hard to categorise us. People say ‘oh Celtic Tenors, they’ll be singing Irish music’ but, of course, we do the classical stuff as well and we do a bit of pop and things too. I love the variety. We only do maybe three Irish songs, then we’re into the classical, then into the sacred, then the pop and then a bit of fun.”

Two deserving causes, the Clare branch of the Samaritans and the Clarecastle Daycare Centre will benefit from the show.

“The Samaritans is a great cause and the amount of suicide that we have at the moment is dreadful and it’s great that the Clarecastle Daycare Centre are benefiting too,” he concluded.

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