Follow us on Facebook/Twitter


Join our 12,000 Twitter Followers and 14,000 Facebook friends

Anuna: Behind a Fan’s Eyes

Lynn Gleason

Lynn Gleason

Lynn Gleason believes that without Irish choir Anuna, there might be no Celtic Thunder or Celtic Woman. Here Lynn explains how she first started following the choir and why it means so much to her.

Writing this piece has been particularly difficult for me. Anuna was the original vocal group that performed in Riverdance back in the mid 1990s. This how I discovered Anuna. At that time, I had been performing in various choirs for about 6 years. Prior to that, I had been trained by my mother who was also a choral singer. I have a very bad habit of losing people when I talk about Anuna because I tend to slip back into my training and forget that not everyone has had the same training or experience. I apologize in advance.

The story of Anuna began in Dublin in 1987 with Michael McGlynn and a few friends. My journey as a fan (read Anunaphile) began in Beverly, Massachusetts in 1996 with myself and my friends. We had all seen Riverdance on PBS and (all of us being in the school choir) instantly decided that we wanted to do something like that. We even started our own group which kind of ended up being a precursor to Celtic Woman. (That’s right…we did it first and Celtic Woman has Anuna DNA.) This is the power Anuna has. How they do it is hard to put in to words, but I will do my best.

Anuna and Lynn

Anuna and Lynn

For myself, the strongest attraction to Anuna was not just that they were a choir, but they were an Irish choir. I mean truly Irish in their sound and identity. There had been choirs from Ireland who sang mostly the traditional Continental European fare or poorly arranged versions of standards like Danny Boy or Galway Bay. No one sang in Irish Gaelic or sang anything that predated the Gregorian period. This, to me, is the most unique feature about Anuna and the reason that I am as passionate about them as I am.

My own Irish heritage has always been so important to me and I knew, through reading the history and the mythology, that there was more to Ireland’s history and identity than the Potato Famine and the Troubles.

New life into the ancient soul of Ireland

I feel that Anuna’s music breathes new life back into the ancient soul of Ireland. Michael has taken a number of pre-Christian and early Christian texts and written the most magnificent settings for them. (Anyone who knows jewels knows that the setting is the key to the sparkle.) He has written a couple of settings for poems by the pre-Christian Irish poet/bard Amergin Glungel. Invocation of Ireland (on which Michael sings lead) and Wind on Sea (traditionally known as The Song of Amergin and sung by Michael’s twin brother and co-director, John) are so powerful in their execution that the listener truly does find themselves transported to another land in another time. Amergin’s words with their powerful imagery and Anuna’s living spirit combine to give these pieces a sound and feel that is at once fresh and unimaginably ancient.

Pure Anuna – layers of melodies and harmonies

My favorite early Christian selection from Anuna has to be Michael’s arrangement of the Gregorian piece Media Vita. The song may be a standard in the traditional Gregorian repertoire, but this arrangement is neither traditional nor standard. The archetypal homo-phonic Gregorian sound is only occasionally employed in this piece. The rest is just pure Anuna. The layers of melodies and harmonies that Michael weaves into all of his work really make even the most somber traditional pieces come to life. In the case of Media Vita, he had to tinker because there are no female voices in Gregorian chant nor are there harmonies. It is those haunting harmonies and counter melodies that are the hallmark of the Anuna sound.

Not to be ignored, of course, are the contributions of John McGlynn. He originally joined the group as Production Designer. While he is still primarily responsible for the look of the choir from performance attire to lighting to the publicity photos and cover designs, he has added another element to the group’s sound.

From traditional Irish melodies to Annie’s Song

John brought a folk element in when he joined that has become an integral part of the Anuna identity. John and Michael have written arrangements for traditional Irish songs like Siuil A Ruin as well as the John Denver classic Annie’s Song, both of which where feature in Anuna’s first PBS special Celtic Origins in 2007. (They are also on the companion CD.) John is also a singer/songwriter and has shared some of his own work with Anuna. Songs like If All She Has Is You, In Your Eyes and Swimming in the Barrow were all performed on the 2007 US tour and John’s song The Fisher King is possibly the most haunting track on Anuna’s Deep Dead Blue.

Anuna led way for Celtic Woman & Celtic Thunder

It is clear that my passion runs deep. I am hooked on Anuna. I am at the point where I am pushing Anuna to teenagers. I am a menace to choral societies! Jokes aside, they are truly spectacular. Anuna has done so much for choral music and for Irish music. Like I said, without them, there would not be Celtic Woman, and maybe not even Celtic Thunder. (Psst…their Dulaman is just Anuna’s version slowed down.) When you think about how many lives have been touched by these two groups, these are lives that have been touched by Anuna as well, however indirectly. I think it is time they got the credit that is due to them.

In closing, I want to thank Pat for giving me the opportunity to share this with the readers of Irish Music Forever. I would also like to very publicly congratulate Anuna on 25 years of breaking boundaries and changing all the rules. May you have many more years to come! And to the readers, if you would like to know more, you can visit Anuna at or Like them on Facebook.

Written by Guest writer

We hope you enjoyed this article. We’re constantly adding new articles so why not bookmark our blog home page and come back to see our new posts! Blog News Home Page

Check out more stories on Irish Music Daily

George Donaldson Street Team exceeds fund-raising target
Down to earth father of 1D star refuses son’s money
Fundraiser for Keith Harkin’s favourite charity
George Donaldson – why fans wanted to help his family
Dolores on her battle with cancer and booze
Irish rock legend speaks about his demons
Young Irish talent begins to shine
Star Wars wedding for The Wanted star
CT creator holds auditions for new band
Folk stars Villagers scoop Irish album award
Sinead O’Connor to renew her wedding vows
Dylan appears in Chrysler’s SuperBowl advert
Why Ireland is number one for Garth Brooks
Keith Duffy’s splash for cash
U2 scoop Golden Globe award for Mandela song
Line up for TradFest 2014 revealed
Bono hopes to get better and better
Wire creator set to make Pogues musical
Last Call – Mary Black farewell world tour
Choirs gather for world record attempt in Dublin
Charity single races up Irish charts
Connolly got punched defending Christy Moore
Cranberries star sings for the Pope at the Vatican
Bono: personal tribute to Nelson Mandela
Jagger a great-granddad – don’t call him granpa
Museum to honour 1D star Niall Horan
Justin Timberlake’s Auld Triangle splits the fans
Lonely Sinead prefers America to Ireland
Councillors keep hold of Van Morrison tickets

New PVC look for Sinead’s new album
Auditions for Irish stage show receives worldwide interest
Singers hit back at critics after weight slurs against Tara Erraught
Spotify playlist that could save lives
Fans raise money for George Donaldson’s daughter
Paul Simon and wife cleared of disorderly conduct
Damian McGinty set for solo US tour
U2 echo Beatles with rooftop gig
Sinead on ‘danger’ that made her shave head
Dropkick star helps fight against substance abuse
Bono says U2 are becoming irrelevant
McGinty and Carlin represent Derry
Magic Pie, would you like a Roll With It?
Rock star poses for pics at Dublin wedding
Enya’s in the money despite no new album
Bono busks Dublin on Christmas Eve
Fairytale of New York ‘special’ for Coronation St
Niall Horan to learn guitar from Stones legend
Chieftains to give master class in Irish music
Susan Boyle bullied after incorrect diagnosis
Irish teens hit #1 with tribute to teacher
U2 felt pressure on Mandela song
Ronan: "Tour after Gately’s death was mistake"
Irish star is Britain’s 3rd most influential Tweeter
Irish Spanish musical set in 16th century Ireland
Paul Byrom private concert

Sign up for Ireland Calling Newsletter
Once you have filled in the form, you should receive a confirmation email which you will need to click. Please check your junk mail folder in case it gets sent there.

powered by MailChimp!

Check our archive for great stories

Slap on the wrist for Bono over handshake
Cranberries star joins The Voice
Sinead turns her fury on Simon Cowell
James Galway's lifetime achievement award
Sinéad O’Connor hits back at Miley Cyrus
Sinéad’s ‘motherly’ warning to Miley Cyrus
Celtic Thunder -the kings of Social Media
Barney McKenna – genius and great man
The Dubliners' Barney McKenna dies aged 72
All the Way Home – Cathy Jordan
Folk &rock stars play Rory Gallagher Festival
International stars at the Temple Bar TradFest
Join in open trad sessions at Temple Bar
Mary Black Stories from the Steeples Review
Why do we love Fairytale of New York

Paul Byrom – Kickstarter for PBS Music special
Paul Byrom – raising money for a PBS special
Anuna: Behind a Fan’s Eyes
Irish trad sessions – sharing music and the craic
Festivals in Ireland
Irish American dream set to hit the road
Irish piano students make a big impact
Padraig Lalor – Ismay’s Dream
Arlene Faith – Spirit of the Celtic Violin
New album by Celtic Tenors – Feels Like Home
Van Morrison – the ten million airplays man
Death of Bert Jansch – inspirational folk guitarist
Times Past from JH – melodic, thoughtful songs
How Ralph McTell twisted my fingers
Online social forum for Irish traditional musicians

More great blog posts on Irish Music Daily

Loud earphones damaging children’s ears
Chasing the American Dream
Royal Opera House goes Gaelic
Irish singer Bob Geldof leads Live8
Music At the Heart of Ireland’s Renewal
Tara O’Grady’s magical fusion of jazz and folk
Ireland’s new Musical World Champions
Supporting Magdalene survivors
Magdalene charity video

Christmas bonus for MacGowan from Fairytale
Martin Hayes concert
Michael William Balfe – Ireland’s Mozart
‘Minstrel Boy’ writer Thomas Moore
Tara O’Grady – Irish music fused with jazz
Moonrakers – Celtic music that ‘oozes quality’
Gaelic Harmony
Calling musicians from Ireland’s 32 counties
Singer Oonagh Cassidy joins our video showcase

Great stories on the Irish Music Daily blog

Brendan O’Loughlin – Irish singer-songwriter
A listener’s guide to Irish song
Showcase your videos on our website
Derry wants to host Irish music festival
Singing in Irish – The Sean-nós tradition
Singing in Irish: yes – it’s a language
Fureys take mother’s advice
Kate Bush turns to Irish novelist James Joyce

Irish composers honoured by music academy
Did Wild Rover have a raunchy English cousin?
Irish singer Geldof honoured by Israeli university
When Ronan Met Burt album released
The Dubliners – flying the flag for Irish music
Is the Wild Rover an anti-drinking song?
The folk hero appeal of Whiskey in the Jar
When Ronan Met Burt

Elsewhere on Irish Music Daily

Bob Dylan tops the bill at Irish music festival
Singer Christy Moore backs forest campaign
Fields of Athenry – Irish song and football anthem
Dropkick Murphys evoke wild Irish wake
Ronan Keating to release Bacharach songs
Dubliners take a breather ahead of next tour
Dropkick Murphys back workers
BBC documentary on Irish rock band Thin Lizzy

Frankie Gavin Up Close and Personal
Irish songwriter sets Mandela speech to music
Gary Moore – An Irish music legend
Classic Irish fiddle music straight from the kitchen
What The Dubliners really drank back stage…
How Raglan Road came to be written
The death of Gerry Rafferty
Oh no…Hitler was a fan of Irish music