Follow us on Facebook/Twitter


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

Neil Byrne – insight into life in and out of Celtic Thunder

Neil Byrne gives an insight into life both in and away from Celtic Thunder

Neil Byrne has had a hectic schedule for the last few years. As well as his role in the hugely successful Celtic Thunder, he has embarked on a separate acoustic career along with bandmate Ryan Kelly.

Neil Byrne Q&A

We caught up with the Irish star and asked him for a few insights into life behind the scenes both in Celtic Thunder and away from the band.

He also told us about his ambitions over the next few years and by the sounds of it, there are exciting times ahead.

Irish Music Daily: What’s your favourite job within Celtic Thunder…performing the big shows, recording, the cruises…or something else?

Neil Byrne: It is so fulfilling for me when the opportunity arises to play guitar while singing a solo song. Growing up with guitars has turned into my vitality for living, it is just so natural for one to be in my hands. I also love heading into the recording studio too. The recording becomes your footprint, your stamp, your expression. It’s a very personal thing to share.

IMD: Are the ABC shows with Ryan more relaxed because they’re smaller events…or more difficult because there’s only two of you?

NB: A bit of both. I think the Byrne and Kelly shows are more laid back because we enjoy more interaction on stage than we have time for in a CT show. But as a small band it is certainly more exposing as musicians. As you can imagine, we offer a completely different sound than when with CT and this itself is a super thrill to be in control off.

IMD: Who’s the most amusing person in Celtic Thunder off stage?

NB: I have to say one of the most important things on tour is the sense of humour in the camp. We can spend up to four months on any one tour together in close proximity on a tour bus. I think you can understand why social skills are as important as talent on stage. All the guys are very witty and like to spend most of our time laughing.

We all do impressions of each other which can be close to the bone but so amusing. All in all I find all the guys to be a tonic.

IMD: What is your favourite film and TV show, and why?

NB: Hands down the “Shawshank Redemption” is my favourite film. It`s like a well sculptured piece of art in my opinion. I watch it probably once a year.

My favourite TV series is an English sitcom called “Only fools and horses”… as a child my family used to watch Only fools and horses every Saturday night. We laughed the house down all the way through it. It`s about three likable rogues… a grandfather, son and grandson living together in a high rise flat in the suburb of London and how they struggle to make ends meet but always find a way through dodgy deals. Very heart felt characters that I feel I know so well.

IMD: Who would be your ideal woman and what do you look for most in a girlfriend?

NB: I believe that you have to have a best friend in a partner, it is the foundation that it is all built upon in my opinion. If she looks like Margot Robbie well that`s a real plus.

IMD: Do you have any hobbies and how do you like to relax when away from work?

NB: Driving relaxes me, I always look forward to driving my car when I return home from tour. Taking a spin up over the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains.

I like to play golf… just to enjoy being out in the open air although it can be frustrating when I can`t keep the ball on the fairway which does happen quite a bit.

IMD: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

NB: My dad told me at a very young age “what you put in you get out”

He is a true believer of working hard and seeing the fruits of your labour at the end of it. Both mam and dad loved hearing my progression when playing my guitar for hours and hours every day. I was lucky to have had the best of advice so close to me.

IMD: What if any are your biggest regrets?

NB: I am happy to say I don`t really have regrets… Looking back I would have liked to have attended music college but then again I spent all those years performing with different musicians and writing my own music… these are all factors that got me to where I am today.

IMD: What’s the best thing that ever happened to you?

NB: The best thing that ever happened to me would have to be getting started in music…

I have met some of the most wonderful people/musicians and learned so much from them along the way. Music keeps me focused and I always have a goal whether it`s a new album or a new tour to work towards.

As a child music kept me out of trouble and I matured as a person through it.

IMD: What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?

NB: One of the most embarrassing things that ever happened to me took place on stage when i was performing a solo guitar instrumental at the end of a Celtic thunder concert.

I accidentally hit the loop pedal and the first few notes that i played repeated every couple of seconds… when the song was finished the notes kept ringing out in front of three thousand people wondering how I was playing the guitar with no hands.

IMD: What do you enjoy more? Recording in studio, performing live, songwriting…or something else.

NB: I think I would have to put live performance ahead of the rest but in saying that I need to write the songs and record them in a studio before I tour.

I would happily spend all day in the studio and do so a lot of the time. I love to build productions from scratch.

IMD: What are your ambitions over the next few years?

NB: My ambition will be to develop Byrne & Kelly into an original song writing band. We have been working towards this over the past year and are really looking forward to releasing our debut original songs B&K album.

IMD: Tell us about the new Stage It show with Ryan. What can fans expect?

NB: Well along with Peter and Nicole, we are planning some treats but we have a lot of work to still do! I am really looking forward to playing with them all again. Early in the New Year we all locked ourselves away in a log cabin in the hills of Cavan, back in Ireland and for the first time we attempted some song-writing together. It was so interesting and it’s definitely something we will continue to explore.

Thanks to Neil for answering our questions, we’re looking forward to the new material.

Written by Michael Kehoe

Michael Kehoe

Michael Kehoe is a writer for Irish Music Daily and Ireland Calling.
His favourite Irish Music bands are Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys.
You can follow him on Twitter and

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