The Cassidys

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Na Casaidigh is Irish Gaelic for the Cassidys, a group composed of six brothers out of County Donegal who put a contemporary spin on traditional Irish tunes. Gaelic is their native tongue and they had…
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Na Casaidigh is Irish Gaelic for the Cassidys, a group composed of six brothers out of County Donegal who put a contemporary spin on traditional Irish tunes. Gaelic is their native tongue and they had to study English as a second language during their school years, which allows the Cassidys to alternate easily between both languages in their songs. It hardly matters, however, which language they choose to sing in. The brothers' music has attracted worldwide attention and brought them to audiences from Togoland in West Africa to Carnegie Hall in New York.

The Cassidys' father has long been a church choirmaster. He instilled his love of music, and Gaelic music in particular, into sons Odhrán, Seathrún, Feargus, Aongus, Ciarán, and Fiontán. Music instruction was woven through the boys' childhood. Piano or violin was introduced first, followed by other instruments that included whistles and pipes, bodhran, and guitar. The home atmosphere that created a love of music and learning also implanted the idea that music is a social pursuit meant to bring pleasure to both the audience and the players.

All of the Cassidy brothers contribute to the group's lush harmonies. In addition, each plays several instruments. Odhrán studied the violin in Dublin, Vienna, and Manchester. He went on to play classical concertos with a number of orchestras. He is also accomplished on the uilleann pipes. Seathrún, who gave up his desire to work as a professional harpsichordist, plays piano, guitar, a number of different flutes, and bouzouki. Feargus plays bodhran and rhythm guitar, while Aongus plays viola and fiddle. Ciarán is the group's accordionist and bassist, and also plays the synthesizer. Fiontán plays mandolin and fiddle.

The Cassidys' first venture into the world's spotlight came during a mid-'80s visit to Ireland by then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan. The Irish government requested a performance from the brothers for a state banquet. The event was televised live from Dublin Castle. The brothers repeated the state honor about a decade later during then-U.S. President Bill Clinton's peace-promoting trip to their country.

The group has toured throughout the United States, including stops in New York at St. Patrick's Cathedral and Radio City Music Hall. The brothers have received warm welcomes at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and from the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. In West Africa, they appeared at the celebration held to mark the Lome Convention's signing by the European Union. On the trip out of Africa, as their airplane soared over the Sahara, the EU Commission's president requested some songs from the brothers. The impromptu performance turned into an intimate but long concert at 33,000 feet.