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Music / Celtic Woman

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The Original Five - Lisa, Máiréad, Chloë, Órla, and Méav.

Celtic Woman is an all-female, New Age/Celtic/Contemporary Classical singing group. Created by music director David Downes, the ensemble blends the girl-group concept of hit groups like the Spice Girls and Celtic artists like Enya with some of the elements of Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance tour. Their repertoire ranges from Celtic tunes like "Mo Ghile Mear" and "Nil Se'n La" to modern standards like "You Raise Me Up" and "When You Believe."

The group has sold over six million albums worldwide and consistently charts at or near the top of the World Music chart. Their albums have also set records for length of time at the number one spot; in fact, their first album was only knocked to second place after over a year by their subsequent album "A Christmas Celebration."

The lineup has varied across the years, as members have left and others have replaced them.


Current Members:

  • Máiréad Carlin: (2013 - present) - a lovely soprano with a breathy voice, and like Lynn before her, a true "Black Irish". Has shared the stage with Snow Patrol, The Priests, and Ireland's National Symphony Orchestra, and has also performed for the President of Ireland. She makes her PBS debut in late 2015, on the ''Destiny' concert special. Also the first CW member from Northern Ireland.
  • Éabha McMahon: (2015 - present) - Joined to replace Lisa Lambe in the group's 2015 Destiny tour. Yet another former member of Anúna, she has won several singing competitions and headlined a sold out show in New York City in aid of Kylemore Abbey. She will be releasing her first solo album in 2016.
  • Tara McNeill: (2016 - present) - Joined to replace Máiréad Nesbitt after Nesbitt announced she would be leaving to focus on her personal work. Another former member of Anúna, she plays violin and harp, and is a singer as well. She and Máiréad Carlin are the only two Celtic Women from Northern Ireland.
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  • Megan Walsh: (2018 - present) - joined after Susan McFadden's departure and made her debut on Ancient Land.

Former Members

  • Chloë Agnew: (founding - 2013) - first sang on television at the age of six years old, was only sixteen when she began performing with Celtic Woman. During her tenure, she was generally treated as the lead singer of the group. Her trademarks are her light and clear but powerful soprano and her Rapunzel Hair.
  • Lisa Kelly: (founding - 2012) - former singer with Riverdance, with a talent for soaring ballads.
  • Órla Fallon: (founding - 2009) - a former member of world-renowned Irish chamber choir Anúna. Her unique voice has been consistently raved about; its haunting, ethereal timbre evokes ancient Ireland. Plays the Irish harp, and has accompanied herself on songs such as "Carrickfergus" and "Isle of Inisfree." Lisa Kelly described her as "angelic". In 2009, released her solo album Distant Shore, which included both traditional music and her own compositions, as well as her own harp accompaniment.
  • Méav Ní Mhaolchatha: (founding - 2007, 2015 - present) - another former member of Anúna with a thing for upbeat, cheeky songs. Has a healthy solo fanbase, particularly in Japan, where her voice is considered "healing music." Made a one-album-only return on Home For Christmas, to fill in for Lisa Kelly during the latter's pregnancy. Returned to the group in 2015 as Creative Director.
  • Máiréad Nesbitt: fiddler (founding - 2016) - former All-Ireland Fiddle Champion for a reason (she's been playing since she was six years old), CW's fairylike violinist has been described as a "fiddle pixie." She bounces all around the stage while playing her heart out. Also played with the Lord of the Dance tour.
  • Hayley Westenra: (2006 - 2007) - New Zealander with a thriving solo career and a clear, bell-like voice. Was a big attraction during her single year with the group. She was featured on the A New Journey album and tour as a guest artist.
  • Alex Sharpe: (2009 - 2010) - got her start in Dublin's theatre world. First joined the group in 2007 as a replacement for Lisa Kelly, who was on maternity leave; joined permanently after Fallon's departure in 2009. Not featured nearly enough, with just one solo song before her departure.
  • Lynn Hilary: (2007 - 2010; 2014 - 2015) - classically Black Irish with the fairytale voice to match. Also a former member of Anúna. Currently touring with the group again to fill in for Lisa Lambe. Announced she would be leaving the group at the end of 2015.
  • Lisa Lambe: (2010 - 2014) - soprano with a full, throaty voice reminiscent of Méav's. Has done theatre, television and music. Has locks that rivals Chloe's. Is one of the most well-respected artists in Ireland. Left the group in 2014 to go back to theatre.
  • Susan McFadden: (2012 - 2018) - a soaring mezzo-soprano. Previously starred in many productions in London’s West End, including as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: The Musical; the role earned her a nomination for the prestigious ‘What’s On Stage Award’ for Best Takeover. Also, incidentally, the sister of Westlife's Brian McFadden.


  • Celtic Woman (2005) - with Lisa K, Máiréad N., Chloë, Órla, and Méav.
  • A Christmas Celebration (2006) - with Lisa K, Máiréad N., Chloë, Órla, and Méav.
  • A New Journey (2007) - with Lisa K, Máiréad N., Chloë, Órla, Méav and Hayley.
  • The Greatest Journey: Essential Collection (2008)
  • Songs From The Heart (2010) - with Lisa K, Máiréad N., Chloë, Lynn and Alex.
  • Lullaby (2011) - with Lisa K, Máiréad N., Chloë, and Lynn.
  • Believe (2011) - with Lisa K, Máiréad N., Chloë, and Lisa L.
  • Home For Christmas (2012) - with Máiréad N., Chloë, Lisa L. and Méav.
  • Emerald - Musical Gems (2014) - with Máirèad N., Chloe, Lisa L. and Susan.
  • Destiny (2015) - with Máirèad N., Susan, Máirèad C. and Éabha.
  • Voices of Angels (2016) - with Susan, Máiréad C., Éabha, Tara, and Méav.
  • The Best of Christmas (2017)
  • Homecoming - Live from Ireland (2018) - with Susan, Máiréad C., Éabha, and Tara.
  • Ancient Land (2018) - with Máiréad C., Éabha, Tara, and Megan.

Celtic Woman Provides Examples Of:

  • Acappella: "Somewhere", "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", "Over the Rainbow", and "Hush Little Baby". For each album there is certain to be one number performed in this style.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The band and background dancers briefly have a little fun performing for the audience on the Emerald concert while the ladies are backstage. Until Chloe and Lisa come on stage and catch them.
  • Adventurous Irish Violins: Courtesy of Máiréad Nesbitt and Tara McNeill.
  • Album Intro Track: "Walking in the Air" from their debut album opens with a brief intro of "The Last Rose of Summer".
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead:
    • The original lineup - blonde (Chloë, Méav, Máiréad), brunette (Lisa K.), and redhead (Órla).
    • The 2011 lineup - blonde (Chloë, Máiréad), brunette (Lisa K.), and redhead (Lisa L).
    • Averted with their Home For Christmas concert. The lineup (Méav, Lisa L., Susan, and Máiréad) are all blonde.
  • Christmas Songs: A Christmas Celebration and Home for Christmas.
  • Classical Music
  • The Cover Changes the Gender: Averted with their cover of Black is the Colour.
  • Cover Version: Of "You Raise Me Up" and "When You Believe," just to name a couple.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Máiréad N. has been known to perform at lease one solo number barefoot. See "Granuaile's Dance" from the A New Journey concert.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Has one in all-male Celtic group Celtic Thunder.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The very first song on the first Celtic Woman album is an instrumental excerpt of "The Last Rose of Summer". A complete version with lyrics would not be heard until their third album, A New Journey.
    • "My Lagan Love" was originally an instrumental solo by Máiréad N. from their debut concert, and then with vocals by Lynn on Songs from the Heart.
    • Órla performed an original song called "Shooting Star" during the 2005-2006 concert tour, which would not be seen on a CD until her debut album Distant Shore in 2009.
    • The German Deluxe Edition of the Songs From the Heart album features "A Spaceman Came Traveling" performed by Lisa Lambe a few months before her introduction on the Believe album and concert.
    • Happened again with the German-exclusive edition of Believe. Susan McFadden sings with Lisa Lambe, Chloe, and special guest Chris de Burgh on the song "I'm Counting on You".
    • Máiréad Carlin toured with the group for over a year before making her debut with Éabha on Destiny. On the Destiny concert only Éabha received a welcome as the newest member of the group since many fans were already familiar with Máiréad.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first concert focused much more on the solo artists, which makes sense - it was originally intended to be a one-off event at the Helix in Dublin, bringing together five of the biggest names in Irish music. The concert sparked a tour, Celtic Woman exploded onto the World Music scene, and by A New Journey the five artists - and the production team - had gelled into an organic, coherent whole. From A New Journey onward the songs were a pretty solid mix of duets/trios/group numbers and solo numbers, with each of the girls generally having one or two solo songs in the concert, and Celtic Woman had matured into its current form.
  • Fiery Redhead: Averted completely. Órla was easily the gentlest and most soft-spoken member of the group. As is Lisa Lambe.
  • Follow Your Heart
  • Four-Element Ensemble: The theme for the group's first concert tour from 2005 to 2006.
    • Chloe: Water
    • Lisa K.: Fire
    • Órla: Earth
    • Máiréad N.: Air
    • Deirdre/Meav: The Moon
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Says Lisa K. of the original five, "We get along because we're so different. Chloë Agnew is hip, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha is rational, Órla Fallon is angelic and Máiréad Nesbitt is energetic." And Lisa herself? Well, she's the "bossy mommy"!
  • Girl Group
  • Genki Girl: Máiréad. The way she plays her violin (whenever the music she's playing starts to pick up she begins to bounce around the stage) should be a good indicator.
  • Genre Shift: Most of the music Máiréad plays goes from a slow slip jig to a very fast-paced reel as the song goes on. Also, there is the occasional song which don't really fit the group's style such as Let It Snow on their first Christmas album and a Lisa Kelly cover of Forever Young. These are often included as bonus songs on the albums.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Celtic Woman: The Greatest Journey, which also features reworked tracks like an extended version of "You Raise Me Up" and live versions of numbers performed at the Slane Castle concert.
    • Celtic Woman: Emerald - Musical Gems. However, this features rerecorded versions by the then-current line-up, so it is also an Updated Re-release.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: The unnamed protagonist of "Níl S'én lá", who provides what could well be the page quote:
Fill the glasses one more time and never heed the empty bottle
Turn the water into wine and turn the party up full throttle

  • Harp of Femininity: Órla Fallon, and now, Tara McNeill.
  • Incredibly Long Note: Several of the songs have these as their ending. A good example would be Lisa K.'s singing of "The Voice", where she holds out the final note for eight seconds before the music cuts out.
  • Lady Not-Appearing-on-This-Record: The redhead of Celtic Woman's "logo" isn't a member of the group (considering the actual members are all very attractive women).
  • Let's Duet
  • Melismatic Vocals
  • Mood Whiplash: A few of their songs feature dark lyrics set to upbeat music. For example, Bean Pháidín on Destiny is about a jilted woman who wishes to break the legs of the woman married to the man she loves.
  • Mutually Exclusive Party Members: Meav and Hayley, who needed to alternate positions during the A New Journey tour to maintain the group's Arbitrary Headcount Limit as a five-member group. And this was in spite of the album and DVD concert being performed by all six members.
    • Alex and Órla were then brought up for this prior to the Isle of Hope tour, as Lisa Kelly rejoined after her first maternity leave and Alex's status as a member was put into question. Averted when Órla announced her departure, allowing Alex to become a full-time member.
  • Mr. Fanservice: The group's drummers, namely Ray Fean who frequently shows off his muscular arms.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Frequent, and always appreciated. Pretty much universal with Máiréad's costumes.
  • One Lisa/Máiréad Limit: With Lisa Lambe's joining the group, things got a mite confusing. When Lisa Kelly left the group, this ended - until Máiréad Carlin joined a year later!
  • One-Woman Wail
  • Pardon My Klingon: Songs that are either composed of Gaelic or some other language.
  • Pimped-Out Dress
  • Revolving Door Band: Notably, the group did not become this until the departures of Alex and Lynn after the Songs from the Heart tour, after which the lineups began to change drastically.
    • There was a notable period of stability from 2015 to 2017 where the vocalist lineup remained the same across three albums.
  • Scenery Porn: Slane Castle (venue for the A New Journey concert video) and the Powerscourt House and Gardens (venue for the Songs from the Heart concert video).
  • Self-Titled Album
  • Sexy Walk: Méav has been noted in the press as the member of the group who adds a "delicious wriggle" to her performances, and tended to be the most blatantly sensual of the group. This trope was a key component of said blatant sensuality.
  • Ship Tease: Chloe has blown kisses to conductor David Downes on more than one occasion.
  • Sixth Ranger / Special Guest: Hayley Westenra for A New Journey.
  • Something Completely Different: While every album has non-vocal songs performed by the group's violinist, The Kesh Inn on the Homecoming album notably features all three vocalists, Susan, Máiréad, and Éabha, playing instruments without any singing.
  • Team Mom: Lisa Kelly.
    • Hilariously Chloë (who is the youngest member of the group) has demonstrated this trait. In the behind-the-scenes footage of the Songs From the Heart concert, Máiréad and Lisa reveal they both forgot important items only for Chloë to find what they nearly lost: a violin and a baby, respectively (Lisa was on her first tour with a baby).
  • Temporary Substitute: This is needed when current members are unable to participate in touring. Depending on the circumstances, several of these substitutes became full-time members of the group.
    • Deirdre Shannon: replacement for Méav during the group's first tour from 2005 to 2006.
    • Alex Sharpe: replacement for Lisa Kelly's first maternity leave. Later joined the group on a permanent basis after Órla Fallon's departure and remained until 2010.
    • Susan McFadden: replacement for Lisa Kelly's second maternity leave. Joined the group on a permanent basis after Kelly's departure.
    • Méav: replacement for, again, Lisa Kelly on the Home For Christmas album.
    • Lynn Hilary: replacement for Lisa Lambe, who returned home to spend time with family and act in a play.
  • The Bus Came Back: Méav returned for the Home For Christmas album. Later, Lynn Hilary returned to take over for Lisa Lambe on the first half of the group's 2014 tour.
  • The Heart: Lisa referred to Órla as "angelic"; since her departure the role has been filled by Chloë.
  • The Unpronounceable: Pick a random person off the street, show them Méav Ní Mhaolchatha's name and ask them to pronounce it. Watch hilarity ensue. (The correct pronunciation is approximately "Mayv Nee-mwail-ka-ha.")
  • The Voiceless: Máiréad N., who is the sole member of the group to not be a vocalist. She has only ever spoken onstage once, at the end of the group's rendition of "Let It Snow". Her role is now fulfilled by Tara McNeill.
  • When She Smiles: Órla Fallon. When she smiles, you will smile back.


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