The Irish Descendants | The Canadian Encyclopedia


The Irish Descendants

Over the years, the group has made a number of changes to its line-up. D'Arcy Broderick left the group in 1997, while Martin and Power parted ways in 2000.

The Irish Descendants

 The Irish Descendants. Celtic and folk band formed in Bay Bulls, NL, in 1990. Original members included Con O'Brien (vocals, guitar), Ronnie Power (guitar, bouzouki, tin whistle, vocals), D'Arcy Broderick (guitar, fiddle, mandola, bouzouki, accordion, banjo, vocals), and Larry Martin (bass, vocals). In the late 1980s O'Brien and Power played with The Descendants, while Broderick and Martin were members of the band Irish Coffee. After the collapse of both groups, the four merged under their current moniker and began performing on the Newfoundland pub circuit. The Irish Descendants, along with acts such as The Rankin Family, the Barra MacNeils, Rawlins Cross, and Great Big Sea, contributed to the popularization of traditional east coast music in Canada in the 1990s.

Band Members

Over the years, the group has made a number of changes to its line-up. D'Arcy Broderick left the group in 1997, while Martin and Power parted ways in 2000. Other band members have included Kathy Phippard (1994-6), Gerard Broderick (1994-8), Eamonn O'Rourke (1997-8), Kelly Russell (1998-2003), Paul "Boomer" Stamp (1998-2004), Byron Pardy (2000-03), Mike Hanrahan (2000-07), Glenn Hiscock (2003-09), Paul Hiscock (2003-09), Graham Wells (2003-10), and Bob Pike (2004). Duncan Cameron and Robert Kelly began performing with The Irish Descendants in 2009, and Dave Panting joined the group in 2010.

Recordings and Awards

The Irish Descendants' debut album, Misty Morning Shore (First City Productions FCP-106), was released in 1991 and allowed the band to establish a national audience base. By 1993 they had attracted the attention of several Canadian labels. Shortly after the release of their second album, Look to the Sea (1993, Warner Music Canada 99 40174 WEA), the group signed a five-album recording contract with Warner Music Canada. Their critically acclaimed 1995 album, Gypsies & Lovers (Warner Music Canada 99 82374 WEA), contained a mixture of traditional and contemporary songs and received a 1996 Juno Award for best roots and traditional album. That same year The Irish Descendants were named entertainer of the year at the East Coast Music Awards (an honour they were also bestowed the previous year). Their 1996 release, Livin' on the Edge (Warner Music Canada CD 14857 WEA), was an artistic departure for the band, with several of its tracks featuring an audible country influence. In 2004 The Irish Descendants signed with the New York-based Kells label; Across The Water (2004, Kells Music CD-KM-7024) was their first album to be released to US markets.


The Irish Descendants' repertoire is wide-ranging and includes Newfoundland folk standards, traditional and contemporary Irish and Scottish songs, instrumental jigs and reels, and original material. Their tracks are primarily acoustic and are accompanied by rich vocal harmonies. Their lyrical content often sheds light on Newfoundland's social and political environment, with particular focus on the fishing industry, the economy, and daily life.

Major Performances

The Irish Descendants have headlined at Celtic festivals in Boston, Chicago, and Cleveland, as well as at the International Festival of the Sea in England. In 1997 they performed for Queen Elizabeth II during Newfoundland's 500th anniversary celebrations. The following year they appeared in the theatrical production of Needfire at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre. In 2010 the band performed as part of Newfoundland and Labrador's Victory Celebration Showcase at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Selected Discography

Rollin' Home. 1998. Warner Music Canada CD 22717 WEA

So Far So Good: The Best of The Irish Descendants. 1999. Warner Music Canada 42 91284 WEA

Blooming Bright Star. 2000. Sextant Records SXT-CD-0001

Night at the Pub. 2001. Avalon 20917

The Gift. 2002. Sextant Records SXT-CD-0007

We Are The Irish Descendants. 2004. Kells Music CD-KM-7023

Southern Shore. 2008. Fontana North FNCD 1516

Encore: Best of The Irish Descendants Volume 2. 2009. All Ears Music Company FNCD 5552

Further Reading