Brennan, 'Music of Ireland' on CNN.com

Irish music plays proudly on St. Patrick's Day

By Doug Ganley, CNN, March 17, 2010

New York (CNN) -- The fiddles and bagpipes are playing Irish music all over the country on Wednesday, St. Patrick's Day, but there's more to the songs from the Emerald Isle than renditions of "Danny Boy" once a year.

"Music is to the Irish what sports are to [Americans]," says Irish star and Grammy winner Moya Brennan.

And she knows what she's talking about. Brennan's been called the "first lady of Celtic music."

She's also the host of a new documentary called "Music of Ireland -- Welcome Home," which is available on DVD and appearing on PBS stations around the country (check your local listings).

It's the passion in the music that makes it so popular, says Brennan -- which, she adds, wasn't always the case. Decades ago, Irish music wasn't popular, even in Ireland.

"It was regarded as poor man's music," says Brennan, and "people were ashamed" of it. But now she says "there is a real surge of respect from even young people towards music in Ireland."

As one of nine children, Brennan says that she can't imagine her life without music. Her talented family -- you may have heard of her younger sister Enya -- grew up playing and singing. She first became a professional performing with Clannad, a group made up of family, in 1970, and she's been a player on the island's music scene ever since.

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