Traditional Irish music & song group from Glasgow,
sisters Anna, Sheila & Clare Friel.


aboutAnna, Sheila and Clare Friel are young traditional musicians born in Glasgow with their family roots firmly entrenched in the Donegal Gaeltacht (Derrynamansher). Being siblings, they achieve a close blend on fiddle, flute and uilleann pipes interspersed with songs sang in unison, many from their family and local repertoire.

They have performed in various venues and festivals across Europe, America and Asia and have appeared as guests on stage or toured with acts such as Altan, The Chieftains, Lúnasa, The Máirtín O’Connor Trio, Cherish the Ladies, Solas and Fidil. Summer 2013 saw the girls record their debut album at their home in Donegal with guest musicians Gearoid Mooney, Seamus O’Kane and Griogair Labhruidh. 2016 sees an exciting time ahead as they embark upon the process of recording album number two.


Album – The Friel SistersThe Friel Sisters CD

Summer 2013 saw the girls record their debut album in their home in Donegal with guest musicians Gearóid Mooney, Seamus O’Kane and Griogair Labhruidh. This album was launched in December 2013 at the last Scoil Gheimhridh Frankie Kennedy Festival in Gaoth Dobhair in County Donegal. Scoil Gheimhridh Frankie Kennedy was a key event yearly in the girls’ musical maturity and was the ideal setting to celebrate their first album launch. Exciting times lie ahead in 2016 as the girls embark on the process of recording album number two.

Get the Album Now

You can buy the self-titled debut album ‘The Friel Sisters’ via Paypal.

The Friel Sisters CD – £12 Sterling The Friel Sisters CD – €15 Euro

Listen to some of the album

Humours of Ballyloughlin – Rakes of Clonmel – Paddy Cronin’s
Eighteen Years Old
Bunker Hill – The Holy Land – The Pinch of Snuff


Album Note by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh

“To have listened to the growth and development of Anna, Sheila and Clare’s music over the years has been a complete joy and revelation to me. We have spent many a night in Huidi Beag’s pub in Bunbeg, Co. Donegal during their summer and school breaks from their home in Glasgow, while visiting their mother, Sheila’s, home in Doire na Máinsear, a well-known music house in these parts or at their father John’s family home in Kerrykeel. Nightly we would wait eagerly for their smiling faces to come through the door (albeit always late!) and light up the room with joy, devilment and glorious music. The Friel Sisters are great people who come from great people and it goes without saying that they play wonderful music. Musicians spend time perfecting skills and techniques, but I know from listening to these girls over the years that they must have an innate understanding of music for their musicianship to mature to this standard. It is something that cannot be learned.
They have recorded music and songs here that reflect an upbringing rich in family songs that they got from their grandmother Nellie and their mother Sheila, and neighbours like Connie ‘Mhary Mhicí’ Ó Gallchóir of Rann na Feirste, as well as from listening to great singers like Dolores Keane and the wonderful Cathal McConnell from Balinaleck, Co Fermanagh. Their tunes also reflect people whom they have met and who have influenced them on this musical journey. I can hear nuances of masters like Donegal fiddlers, Tommy Peoples, Danny Meehan in Clare’s fiddle playing; pipers Gay McKeon and Willie Clancy in Sheila’s piping; Northern flute players like Harry Bradley and Cathal McConnell in Anna and Sheila’s flute playing – the list of influences could go on. But what Anna, Sheila and Clare have done is listen to these great musicians, learn from them, and then make the music their own. “Briseann an dúchas fríd súile and chait” is an old Gaelic proverb, which literally states that nature breaks through the cat’s eyes, meaning that what is innate and natural comes out anyway – you cannot hold it back. Likewise The Friel Sisters’ music cannot be held back; it is what comes natural to They breathe music, they live music, they love music. Traditional Irish music is in a richer place for having these young genuine people carry it on to future generations.

Bainigí sult as.” Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, An Pointe, Co Dhún na nGall Fómhair 2014


Upcoming Gigs

William Kennedy Piping Festival, Armagh

Edinburgh Folk Club


Previous Gigs and Performances


Fiddler’s Farm Nierdrop, The Netherlands (Clare only)

Johnny Doherty Festival, Ardara, Donegal

Frank Harte Festival, Dublin

Padova, Italy

Ceol Na gCruach, Glenties, Donegal

Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland

Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Brittany

Bobbio, Italy

Catskills Irish Arts Week, New York (Sheila only)

Willie Clancy Summer School Co.Clare

Killin Music Festival, Perthshire

Netherlands Short Tour – Zaandam

Netherlands Short Tour – Zevenaar

Fiddler’s Farm Nierdrop, The Netherlands (Clare only)

Balerno Folk Club (Anna, Sheila and Hajime Takahashi)

Sea Pictures – Kircudbright Choral Society

German Tour – Irish Heartbeat Tour

Nienburg (Theater)

Heiligenhaus (Immanuel-Kant-Gymnasium)

Barsinghausen (Theater am Spalterhals)

Minden (Stadttheater)

Ludwigsburg (Scala)

Augsburg (Parktheater Göggingen)

Eisleben (Kulturwerk MSH)

Arnstadt (Theater)

Garching (Bürgerhaus)

Balingen (Stadthalle)

Reutlingen (Kulturzentrum franz.K)

Illingen (Illipse)

Langenfeld (Schauplatz)

Traunreut (K1)

Torgau( Kulturhaus)

Dortmund (Pauluskirche)

Rosendahl (Sporthalle Rosendahl-Osterwick)

Tionól Píobaireachta Tír Chonaill. Piping workshops.

Venue: An Óige Errigal Youth Hostel – Dunlewey, Co Donegal

Scoil Gheimhridh Gaoth Dobhair

Venue: Workshops and New Years Eve Bash with Teada

Leeds Gathering Festival (Sheila only)

Expo – Milano (World Fair) Sheila only

Switzerland. Irish Folk Festival Tour – with Liam O’Flynn&Paddy Glackin and Maitrin O’Connor Band (Mairtin O’Connor, Cathal Hayden and Seamie O’Dowd)

North East Tionol. East Durham, New York

Johnny Doherty Festival, Ardara, Donegal

Douglas Folk Festival (Anna and Clare)

Expo – Milano (World Fair) Sheila and Clare

Ceol Na gCruach, Glenties, Donegal

Ceol na gConallach – The Donegal Sessions (Sheila and Clare) Kilcar

Innerleithen Music Festival

International Conference of Pyschosomatic Medicine

Festival Interceltique de Lorient

International Association Paediatric Dentistry Conference

Jim Dowling Festival. Glengarriff, Co.Cork

Glasgow Dental Alumnus Association Big Band Night

Corstorphine Folk ***SOLD OUT***

Gaelic Voices Festival, London Irish Centre

Brew at the Bog, Inverness

Celtic Spirit and workshops, Zurich, Switzerland

Riverside Show, STV Glasgow

St. Patrick’s Festival and RTÉ Radio 1’s Céilí House- Live, NCH, Dublin

First Tionol Piobaireachta Thir Chonnail

Howth Singing Circle Burns Weekend ***SOLD OUT***

Venue: The Abbey Tavern, Howth

Droichead Arts Centre

Scoil Gheimhridh Ghaoth Dobhair, Donegal

Button Factory, Dublin

Irish Folk Festival Tour 2014 with Lunasa and Karan Casey, Switzerland

International Uilleann Piping Day, Northern Ireland Assembly, Stormont

Rencontres Interceltiques Festival, Belgium

Johnny Doherty Festival, Ardara, Donegal

Ceol Na gCruach, Glenties, Donegal

Trad on the Tyne Festival, Haddington ***SOLD OUT***

Piping Live, Glasgow

Yn Chruinnaght Festival, Isle of Man

Féile Charn Tóchair, Maghera, Co.Derry

Co.Down Fleadh, Castlewellan

16th Belfast Open House Festival

Doolin Folk Festival, Co.Clare

Piping recital, Annual NPU Tionol, Listowel Arms

Joe Heaney Singing Festival, Carna, Connemara, Co.Galway

Glasgow Album Launch, St. Andrews in the Square

Piping workshops and pipers chair, Belfast Tionol

Dublin Album Launch, The Grand Social

Ceol Campbeltown, Seafield Hotel ***SOLD OUT***

Celtic Connections, Gaels le Chèile  @ Ceòl’s Craic  ***SOLD OUT***

BBC Radio 3 – World on 3.  Live on BBC Radio 3. ***SOLD OUT***

Scoil Gheimhridh Frankie Kennedy,  Gaoth Dobhair, County Donegal.

Album Launch ***SOLD OUT***



“…the Glasgow-born, Donegal-bloodlined Friel Sisters, who were a real breath of fresh air in singing clearly and unaffectedly and playing unencumbered jigs with skill, shape and heart to free the music from its showbiz strait jacket.”
– The Herald, 30th Jan 2012 following Song for Ireland, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

“Glasweigan siblings Anna, Sheila and Clare comfortably display their Donegal roots on this debut album. The Friels’ intuitive no-nonsense mix of flute, fiddle and pipes reflects a gene pool rich in Donegal songs, and shot through with a refined capacity to mine the finer points of a tune…The trio’s ensemble playing is clear-headed and intimate.” *** Siobhan Long. The Irish Times, March ’14.

“They share a musical understanding and approach…forthright, assured, energetic and very enjoyable.” **** Julian May. Songlines Magazine, Aug 2014.

“The Friel Sisters represent a new strand in traditional Irish music – they superbly balance a contemporary approach with an informed understanding of where their song and music comes from. They encompass the soul of Irish music. Daughters of the diaspora, they are extremely capable, professional in the approach to their work and, above all, entertaining onstage”. Tom Sherlock- agent, promoter and artist manager.

“They take each set with a determined and focused intent, biting into the tracks with an expressive authority. Each set has its own identity… This album is a triumph of raw natural talent delivered with passion and confidence by three sublimely gifted musicians.. An early highlight to 2014 and a definite repeat play album.” Tradconnect, Jan 2014

“The three Friel sisters hail from Glasgow, but on the evidence of their eponymous debut album, their hearts clearly lie in their familial roots of The Rosses in County Donegal. Indeed, the combined music and unison singing of Anna (flute and whistle), Sheila (uilleann pipes, flute and whistle) and Clare (fiddle, whistle and harmonica) sounds as is they could have been born there, so clearly are they imbued with the local tradition…their enjoyable recording features five sweetly sung songs…and a selection of instrumental medleys which includes a marvellous set of reels on which the sisters’ flute combine and a lively whistled version of the jig Contentment is Wealth, followed by a perky tin sandwich rendition of Liam O’Connor’s. The album is self-produced, but avoids all the pitfalls which sometimes blemish such projeccts, and should certainly entice listeners to catch the sisters in live performance.” Geoff Wallis, fRoots Magazine. Dec 2014.

“The new album is a mixture of instrumental and vocal music that any lover of traditional music will surely want to hear… Their instrumental work is top notch… (Tracks) are well chosen and show off their superior talent. The album abounds with small, smart touches that draw the ear… They are an impressive young bunch with fabulous taste and impeccable chops who have released an excellent debut album… “The Friel Sisters” is one you’ll want to hear.” Irish Echo, New York, Jan 2014.

“Anna, Sheila and Clare are, without doubt, among the brightest musical prospects on the horizon of traditional music and their debut album clearly and unequivocally demonstrates their very considerable talents. These girls, born and raised in Glasgow, have retraced their steps to their family roots in one of the Donegal Gaeltachts and, through the medium of fiddle, flute and uilleann pipes, have blended their ancestral culture with a veritable galaxy of musical influences that they’ve absorbed from across Ireland. The result is an album that gives an intimidation of the musical treats that await us the next time they record – and the times after that.…Both the playing and the singing are polished and faultless…Go and buy this CD, you most definitely won’t regret it. Me? I’ll be looking out for the next one!” John Waltham. Living Tradition Magazine, March 2014.

“This, their first CD, is nothing short of enchanting, and a heartening example of a generation embracing tradition even while interpolating its own impressions and ideas – some from their family, some inspired by the likes of Planxty and The Bothy Band…fresh and invigorating…Amidst the tracks is a goodly amount of variety in repertoire and arrangement.” Sean Smith. Boston Irish Reporter, Dec ‘14

“Their new album is a mixture of instrumental and vocal music that any lover of traditional music will surely want to hear. The Friels (who many readers might know from Catskills Irish Arts Week) play with familiar ease and a lovely sense of grace. Their instrumental work is top-notch…and show off their superior talent. The album abounds with small, smart touches that draw the ear…The sound of three woman singing together in unison is attractive and the friels do it well, bringing a distinctive and nuanced style that makes their approach particularly satisfying…The Friels have a beautiful and intuitive way of playing together. They are impressive young bunch with fabulous taste and impeccable chops who have released an excellent debut album. ‘The Friel Sisters’ is one you’ll want to hear.” Daniel Neely. Irish Echo. NY. Jan 14.

“The sisters have a wide range of instruments to bring to the recording with the girls playing flute, fiddle and uilleann pipies. The Friels have adopted a compelling and rare vocal tradition. I can echo that here, an excellent debut throws light on a family tradition of music making in Donegal that spans three generations. Proof that Glasgow isn’t so far away, as long as you have the music with you.” Seán Laffey, Irish Music Magazine, March ‘14.

“This debut CD is full-on old-style traditional music, played with the sort of skill and passion that sparked a revival almost 50 years ago…Three light pure voices make each song a rare treasure.” Alex Monaghan. Piping Today (magazine) May ’14.

“Trad Bravos…Dix instrumentaux et cinq chansons composent ce brilliant album…Revendiquant l’influence d’Altan, Plantxy ou Bothy Band, ells ont toujour joue et chante ensemble, et les chansons sont interpretees avec un unison parfait…Un talent immense, des voix divines et un joli minois en prime, voice un trio qui n’a pas fini de faire parler de lui. A decouvrir a de toute urgencies.” Phillipe Cousins. Le Peuple Breton, Feb 2014. AND Trad Magazine. June ’14



Press Release

2 Page article in The Living Tradition about The Friel Sisters by Fiona Heywood


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