Celtic Thun­der re­cently lost a found­ing mem­ber, but his friends keep his mem­ory alive with ev­ery song they con­tinue to sing

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY LIVE & LOUD - DANIELLE MCGRANE

Ir­ish group Celtic Thun­der are a man down and they feel it.

Singer Ge­orge Don­ald­son, 46, died af­ter a heart at­tack in March, leav­ing the male singing group with­out one of its found­ing mem­bers.

Four of the group were in Syd­ney last week be­fore the start of their Aus­tralian tour and agreed that con­tin­u­ing with their dates Down Un­der was the best thing they could do.

“It has been a dif­fi­cult time but there’s strength in num­bers and this tour has been all about•cel­e­brat­ing the man who was an in­cred­i­ble guy to be around and made a mas­sive im­pact to all of us,” singer Colm Kee­gan says.

“One thing that’s said about groups on tour is that you’re not col­leagues, you’re not peers; you’re fam­ily.

“The last few months have been in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult for all of us, but the one thing we wanted to do on this tour was pay homage to one of our fam­ily, Ge­orge.”

The other three Ir­ish men, Neil Byrne, Keith Harkin and Em­met Cahill agree their up­com­ing tour is one of the best ways they could cel­e­brate Don­ald­son’s life.

“It’s not easy, but as the old say­ing goes: the show must go on,” Harkin says.

“I know if Ge­orge was in this sit­u­a­tion he would be ex­actly the same.”

The four men dis­play an easy charm when they’re to­gether, it’s not hard to see how they win au­di­ences over•world­wide.

This will be Celtic Thun­der’s third trip to Aus­tralia af­ter en­joy­ing im­pres­sive sales lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Their 2012 DVD The Show was on top of the ARIA charts for 33 weeks with the group sell­ing two mil­lion al­bums world­wide and more than 700,000 con­cert tick­ets. The Celtic Thun­der YouTube chan­nel, Thun­der Tube, has also clocked up more than 28 mil­lion views since 2008.

“Aus­tralia is a mas­sive part of the Celtic Thun­der chap­ter,” Kee­gan says.

Keith Harkin, a long-haired surfer, par­tic­u­larly likes to come to Aus­tralia at this time of year as he says the “win­ter swells are com­ing in”.

The cheeki­est of the group, Harkin says per­form­ing in front of fam­ily gave him more of a thrill than when the group sang in the White House for the US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

“I had the plea­sure of play­ing in front of my grand­mother and my mummy•in Ra­dio City (Mu­sic Hall) in New York so it’s pretty•spec­tac­u­lar.

“But Pres­i­dent Obama was very cool as well,” he says. Celtic Thun­der per­form at Jupiters Casino Theatre on Satur­day night.

Celtic Thun­der will play 22 shows across Aus­tralia dur­ing the group’s busy sched­ule and they say for­mer mem­ber Ge­orge Don­ald­son would have ap­proved.

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