Through the gift of song Dolores Keane has brought joy to households throughout Ireland and across the world. She shares festive memories and career highlights with John Scally as she prepares for a new documentary on her life which will air on RTÉ television this Christmas.


Dolores Keane is the original Galway girl.
She is one of the giants of Irish music on foot of her rendition of classic songs like Caledonia, The Island and Never Be the Sun. She was described as the ‘Voice of Ireland’ by the late Nanci Griffith – who also said of her: ‘Dolores Keane, the queen of the soul of Ireland, has a sacred voice.’

In 1975, she co-founded the very successful traditional Irish band Dé Dannan and they released their debut album Dé Dannan in that same year. The group gained international recognition and enjoyed major success in the late 1970s in the US. Dolores went touring with the band and their single The Rambling Irishman was a big hit in Ireland. In early 1976, after a short two-year spell, she left Dé Dannan.

As a solo performer she has not been afraid to take on social issues. Her song Lion in A Cage, considered the plight of Nelson Mandela, who was still a political prisoner in South Africa at the time.

It has been a momentous year for Dolores. One of the television highlights of the year was her appearance on the final Tommy Tiernan Show of the season as she discussed her beginnings in music, her struggles in life and much more with Tiernan visibly moved by her story.

Another significant milestone came when she reached her 70th birthday on September 26th. She marked the occasion with the release of a new song My Refuge. The song explores how music can bring hope to everyone. It has a particular resonance for her because music has being her refuge through tough times but it has a universal appeal and will strike a chord with anyone who ever faced adversity in life.

‘It’s a very powerful song that was written for me by Johnny B. Broderick. But when Johnny was writing it I had no input into it. It’s not about me but it’s about anyone who may find themselves in the same position as I’ve been in during times in my life. But there is always hope and being sorry for those you’ve hurt and forgiveness for yourself too is also very important. You are not doing anyone any favours by holding on to this low depression or guilt.’
Then came a new album called Dolores Keane perfectly timed for the Christmas market. So what can fans expect from it?

‘It is a mixture of the songs that people will have heard me singing for years and some songs from recent years that fans will not be as familiar with.’

There is one more highlight still to come for Dolores.
‘A documentary has been made about me for television and it will be transmitted over Christmas. I loved recording it because we did in my grandparents’ home. It was such a joy because I got to sing with wonderful talents like Mick Hanly and Paul Brady as well as with my brothers Seán and Matt and my sisters. We didn’t want the crew to leave we were enjoying it so much. We were all nearly crying when they left.’

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own