Byrne Brothers bring Celtic tunes to North Texas Irish Festival

Family band blends modern sound and Irish heritage for international audiences

Photos: Rory Moore | Mercury Staff Photoillustration: Anika Sultana | Mercury Staff

After their eccentric and high-energy performance at the North Texas Irish Festival, the family-based band The Byrne Brothers immersed themselves in a warm Texas welcome and they are excited to continue sharing Irish music all over the world.

The family of five first came to America from Donegal, Ireland, in 2015 for vacation, then returned in 2017 to perform for the Raglan Road in Disney Springs in Orlando, eventually falling in love with the blue skies of Florida. Living in the state since 2018, The Byrne Brothers continue to travel the world spreading Irish culture through music. Their style blends modern and traditional Irish music with English lyrics and Irish dance. The band consists of brothers Luca, who plays accordion, banjo and mandolin; Finn, who plays guitar and bodhran; Dempsey, who plays the whistle; Julie, the boys’ mother; and Tommy, the boys’ father, who plays the uilleann pipes, fiddle and guitar.

“We didn’t really plan on having the band,” Tommy said. “When we had the boys, they just automatically started playing music, as in hitting their pots and saucepans upside down. As they got a bit older, they started going to violin lessons and Irish dancing. I was doing some shows in Donegal, Ireland and they just came on stage, and they would do one tune and one dance. It was supposed to be Luca and Finn [on the stage], but Dempsey jumped on stage as well, so they just started there organically.”

Having visited Texas before, The Byrne Brothers said they enjoyed the audience engagement they had during the North Texas Irish Festival.

“They loved every minute of it,” Tommy said. “When we see [the crowd] enjoying us, then that makes us enjoy it even more and then it just kind of snowballs.”

The Byrne Brothers applied for an employment based first preference (EB-1) green card after their second trip to Florida, pursuing these visas to more easily tour throughout the U.S. for long periods of time. Since then, they have toured 47 states across the U.S., introducing others to the unique sound of Irish music and remaining connected with their heritage.

“[Through our music], we want to let people know that it is important to look after your own culture, your own cultural music, not just the Irish,” Tommy said. “But whatever country you come from, don’t lose your traditional music and your dancing and your culture and your cuisine, your food and all that kind of stuff.”

Finn said he draws inspiration for his dance arrangements from River Dance and Lord of the Dance. Dempsey draws inspiration from John Joe Kelly and Coldplay. As a whole, the family enjoys a variety of genres such as country, reggaeton and reggae. The family band’s dynamic also allows all family members to participate in all aspects of production, from Finn arranging their tracks to Luca filming their music videos.

Performing on The Late Late Toy Show, the most watched talk show in Ireland, led to The Byrne Brothers becoming a household name in their home country. They were named Rising Stars of the Year 2021 by American Celtic Radio Listeners for their album “Living the Dream” and won 2022’s Young Artist Academy Award for Outstanding Music Ensemble.

“[Ten years ago], we knew there was something around the corner, but we didn’t know exactly what it was, but I don’t think we ever thought things would go so fast in this world of festivals, but it has been fantastic,” Julie said. “It’s just taken off for us and there’s all different things in the future for us.”

The band recently released a new album titled “The Boys of Doorin,” which can be found on Spotify. Tommy says he wants to share The Byrne Brothers’ music in Australia, Asia, New Zealand and Europe, hoping to travel internationally in the future. The band will continue to perform at upcoming dates in Florida, with their next performance on March 12 in Outdoor Resorts at Orlando in Clermont, Florida.

“We can more or less pick and choose where in the world [we] want to play and work towards because there are Irish everywhere in the world,” Tommy said. “There’s only four and a half million people in Ireland, but about 80 million people can qualify for an Irish passport all over the world.The world is our oyster now.”

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