Spotlight on: Eleanor Shanley – The Leitrim Songstress who is a Global Artist

Eleanor Shanley

Eleanor Shanley

The immensely talented songstress who is our Celebrity artist for the festive season issue can certainly be described as a global artist – she has entertained audiences not only in Ireland and the UK, but also in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, the United States and even in China!

Eleanor Shanley was born in Keshcarrigan, Co. Leitrim in the North West of Ireland. Like many of her fellow performers, Eleanor’s home was steeped in music. Her mother’s family were all adept musicians and during her childhood, Eleanor got the opportunity to learn some of the best of the old songs from extended family members.

After completing her education, she took up a position with FAS in Dublin, but was simultaneously devoting as much time as she could to her passion for music and drama. She subsequently studied drama with Betty Ann Norton and became a member of the ‘Leitrim Wild Roses’ Tops of the Town group. All over the country at the time, budding artists were cutting their teeth playing locally in talent shows in groups like this. At the same time, she was singing at various sessions, frequently at Ned O’Shea’s popular ‘Merchant’ hostelry in Dublin. It was here that Frank Cooney and Ned O’Shea introduced her to De Danann – a significant event that was to launch her to nationwide and indeed international prominence. Dolores Keane had just left the Band and after Eleanor met Frankie Gavin and Alec Finn, just two weeks passed, and she was heading off on a tour of Wales, Finland, and Sweden with the Band. Her day job was but a distant memory as Eleanor took to the road for the next five years on a world tour with De Danann. During this time, she also recorded two albums with them – Jacket of Batteries, and Half Set in Harlem.

Speaking of this giant leap in her life Eleanor says: “I learned so much about music and the business in the first five years. It’s a time of my life I have very fond memories of, and am eternally grateful for. I am happy also that I have remained friends with the band and have returned from time to time to play various gigs with them and also with Alec Finn and Frankie Gavin as solo artists.”

Eleanor has been touring with Frankie Lane and Paul Kelly in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, and Ireland with the past three years. She has toured Germany and Ireland with Ronnie Drew and has of course re-united with De Danann for several concerts in the US and China. She recently performed at the Kinnity Festival where she shared the stage with Damien Dempsey, Sharon Shannon, Mundy and The Saw Doctors.

Over her illustrious career, Eleanor has been honoured with numerous awards; She won the Most Distinctive Voice award on John Creedon’s Radio Show in 2005, the same year she was also nominated for a Meteor Award and her name was added to the Folk Music Hall of Fame listing this year.

Eleanor was also honoured just a few weeks ago by the Leitrim Guardian who named her their 2014 Person of the Year. ‘Eleanor is one of Ireland’s foremost Singers, she has been at the top of her profession since her first appearance with De Danann in 1990, she is well known for promoting Leitrim at National and International levels. She is a great ambassador for our County and gives freely of her time and talents to many different charities,’ sources from the Guardian said.

Indeed, charitable causes are very dear to Eleanor’s heart. Console (Living with Suicide), Changing Minds (Raising awareness about mental health), Strange Boat (Organ Donation Awareness), and the Irish Cancer Society have all benefited from her generosity. In September, She did a skydive for Animal Heaven Animal Rescue (AHAR), to raise funds for a new badly needed premises.

Since she made her first recording, Eleanor has put down a rich legacy of music which is much appreciated by her fans world wide, and today the Leitrim Songstress continues to impress with each new release, and at all of her live performances.

Later this month Eleanor will star in a feast of festive entertainment on Christmas Eve on TG4. The show will be staged at the world famous O’Connor’s Pub in Salthill, Galway where she will take centre stage. She will be joined by several stars from the music world such as Sean Keane with whom she will duet on the Christmas classic ‘Fairytale of New York’. She will also perform with 5 Men & A Bass who are a popular local group. Galway Girls -The Brennan Sisters will bring their distinct harmonic style to the Show, while Lucia Evens who is currently lead vocalist in the new Riverdance Show will give of rendition of the well loved Silent Night.

Readers can catch this great show online at www.tg4.ie where numerous more artists will join those listed above.