The Screaming Orphans – These Donegal Girls Are Celtic Rock Super Stars

The Screaming Orphans

The Screaming Orphans, the four Diver sisters who hail from Ireland’s County Donegal, have been performing together since the early 1990’s. The Diver sisters have built an international reputation that sees them touring throughout North America and Europe. In 2016 they will appear at Celtic festivals in the United States and have embarked on a 17 city tour in Germany billed the “Irish Heartbeat Tour”. The band then return to the States on May 26, 2016 to perform at the “Ireland 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts and Culture”, a major festival highlighting Irish culture at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.

The Diver sisters call Bundoran in Ireland’s County Donegal home.  Bundoran (Bun Dobhráin in Gaelic translating into “the foot of the little water”)  is on Irelands NorthWest coast near one of the few remaining Gaeltacht areas in Ireland and having spent their early years living here has contributed to the band’s musical style. The Screaming Orphans have been described as having a unique sound rooted in the Celtic tradition combined with the musical influences to which the ladies from Donegal have been exposed during their career.  Since their early days they have performed with Sinead O’Connor, Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel and the legendary Celtic band “The Chieftains” among others.

The Screaming Orphans

In interviews the band have cited the musical traditions of their home town and point to Gaeltacht born performing artists as early influences. One of these artists are the band “Clannad”.  Clannad are from the Irish speaking community of Gweedore not far from where the Divers grew up. A family band also, Clannad are said to have put Irish music and the Irish language on the map in the 1980s. A noted member of the Clannad clan, the international superstar Enya, struck out on her own successful career. 

In a 2015 interview with “The Union”, running up to their performance at the Celtic Festival in Nevada County, California, the band referred to their early influences: “We sing the old songs that our mother sang, some original pop songs which we refer to as ‘new Irish songs’ and the rest are well-known Irish songs and tunes that we have changed up a bit. It all makes for a great dynamic live show”.

With their modern take on the traditional sounds of Ireland the band have become a stunning presence on the Festival circuit in the States. Ranking with the major Celtic performers such as Albannach, Rathkeltair, Gaelic Storm, Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul. The Diver sisters will be rounding out their 2016 tour with a swing through more than 13 states performing at over 20 Celtic Festival venues including such major festivals as the Celtic Fling at the Mount Hope Winery in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, Dayton Ohio Celtic Festival, Irish 2000 Music and Arts Festival in New York’s elegant Ballston Spa near Saratoga Springs, Waterloo Iowa’s Irish Fest and the major Irish festivals in Boston, Chicago and Colorado to name but a few. 

On November 19, 2016 the Screaming Orphans will be performing in Florida at the Dunedin Celtic Music and Craft Beer Festival along with "Enter the Haggis", "Off Kilter" and "Seven Nations".  

The Screaming Orphans

Transceltic are honored to have interviewed the Diver Sisters:

1. You are acclaimed artists who perform internationally. Do you consider the band to be ambassadors of Celtic culture?

Very much so. We play the old songs and tunes and also play our own original pop/ rock songs so that attracts people to the festivals who may not necessarily have much interest in the older Irish culture. We can cross over from old to new very easily.

2. Tell us about your latest albums “Dance with Me” and “Ballads Rule Ok”. What are your future recording plans?

Ballads Rule OK, is our latest full length Irish album. We had our great friend Martin Furey (a son of Finbar Furey from the legendary Furey Brothers) guest on some tracks. In this album we took some old and well known ballads and gave them a new twist. Our version of the Rocky Road To Dublin stands out as a very unique take on the song. ‘Dance With Me’ is an E.P so it is just a 4 track sampler from the forthcoming original pop album of the same name. We plan on finishing the album by the end of 2016. We also plan to record another Irish album in the next year as we have quite a few songs in the works and are playing them live at the moment and have had many requests to get them recorded.

3.  Here at Transceltic we have been tracking the explosive growth in attendance at Celtic festivals.  Having been touring since the 2000’s, what insights to you have into the Celtic Festival phenomenon?

We have seen Irish festivals evolve over the last decade or so. They now feature many progressive bands and artists. They are not scared to introduce bands with pop and rock elements and this has in turn attracted a wider audience, not just people with a very distinct connection to Ireland but people of different cultures and heritage. They also have concentrated on making it a great day out for both young and old with children’s activities and various food choices.


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