Legendary Irish group De Danann will be bringing their new show and new tunes to the Ballincollig Winter Festival, Friday, January 29th in The White Horse. We got to speak to singer Eleanor Shanley about gospel music, touring and reuniting ahead of their first performance at the festival.
Eleanor first joined De Danann back in 1989. “I was working in FAS at the time. I was singing in The Merchant and they were told to have a listen. I was so green”, she says. She quit her job the following year and performed and toured with De Danann for the next five years. Eleanor joined the band following in the footsteps of Dolores Keane, Mary Black and Maura O’Connell. The band is well known for combining and experimenting different musical genres with traditional Irish music. “When I joined”, explains Eleanor, “We were touring with American Gospel singers. I learned so much from them. They are real powerhouses and I loved every second of it. We also were listening to a lot of Reggae at the time.” Her Mother used to listen to Margaret Barry and John McCormick. In comparison Shanley was listening to the Bay City Rollers. “I love Blues singers, women singers with big voices”, she admits.
Fans at the show in The White Horse are in for a treat as De Danann has a new album in the works. “Alot of this album are songs relating to war”, says Eleanor “There’s a song about Vietnam, and another called “Walk the Road with Soldiers in 1847” about women trying to get out of Ireland”, adds Eleanor. “There will be some of the old stuff as well” she assures us including “Hard Times”, “Maggie” and the Wonderwaltz album. “Tune wise, the boys are working away on new tunes for the show. There will be Jigs, Reels and Polkas” she says. “We are always delighted when people get up to dance. That’s what they are for after all” she laughs. This is the band’s first time playing The Ballincollig Winter Festival and already Eleanor is thinking of extending their stay. “The venue looks really wonderful and I see the Wainwright Sisters are playing and Lumiere. They are fantastic I would love to see them”. The band hopes to release the new album in early Spring. They have an exciting couple of months head with a tour of Canada in March, as well as playing the Costa Del Folk, Mallorca . “I’m very excited about Mallocra, Eddie Reader is also playing and she’s one of my favourite singers”, says Eleanor.
De Danann members went their separate ways in 2003 but reformed in 2010 and recorded the album “Wonderwaltz” Today band members include Alec Finn, Eleanor Shanley, Brian McGrath, Derek Hickey, Ronan O’Flaherty and Neill Lyons. “I was so green when I first joined De Danann” admits Shanley. “When we recorded that first album I was going down on lunch and after work. Now, I’m more confident in myself and I take the reins a bit more. Twenty seven years later and there is something new everyday and that’s great But you have to work hard to stay there, to get gigs. Getting gigs is the easy bit it’s all the stuff in the background is hard”.

De Danann play The Ballincollig Winter Festival Friday January 29th at 20:30 for more information and schedules click here http://www.wintermusicfestival.ie/

Follow De Danann on http://www.de-danann.com/