Fergus Cahillane


As a Dublin born member, it is not lost on me that people travel from all over the world for a chance to hear or to sing with Anúna. On a grey Wednesday evening I walk down a road and into an old church and there I stand on the shoulders of thirty years of musical history. I think about the colour of the piece, breathe in and take part in something which is both natural and profound.  

 Fergus Cahillane (Image Nejc Rudel)

Fergus Cahillane (Image Nejc Rudel)

I grew up learning traditional Irish tunes on the fiddle and then began to write songs and play loudly in rock bands. 

Over the years, I spent more and more time arranging other people's songs, singing in my Dad's traditional sessions and running an open-night of music and storytelling in Dublin's City Centre. All this helped me keep a grip on my mental well-being and filled the void that was left when I stopped writing songs for myself as a kid, with my own voice. Being in Anúna is a slow and constant crawl back to that unaffected, honest and joyful release of sound, only now the aim is to create it whether singing for myself or several thousand people.   

When studying in Maynooth University, I met a past member of Anúna in the venturous Michael Dawson. He gave me a chance, despite my having no formal training, to sing with Maynooth's Chamber Choir. It was with this ensemble, when touring across America and China, that I first performed the music of Michael McGlynn and Anúna. 

Following this I sang with the Mixed Symphonic Choir of Vienna; a year of big choral works and beautiful venues. When I returned to University the following year, our Maynooth Chamber Choir became the first Irish group to win the Pavarotti Trophy and Choir of the World competition at the Eistedfodd in Llangollen, Wales. These wonderful experiences gave me the confidence to audition for Anúna. I had no idea how underdeveloped I still was. I feel very fortunate that Anúna has been the vehicle for me to go from someone who lives for music to someone who makes music for a living.

From an outsider's perspective, Anúna achieves unrivalled clarity of sound and is a group which seems to operate according to its own system with all emphasis on authenticity. After some time in Anúna it's hard to imagine working any other way. We perform with a singular vision. Combining our voices without a conductor, we must respect every member of the ensemble as an equal artist who has the capacity to change the direction of the piece at any given moment.

For me, this interdependence is part of what makes singing in Anúna feel more like playing in a band than singing in a choir. In order to have survived over thirty years, Anúna has changed and grown with its members, but in it’s essence it stays the same: an ensemble of extraordinary people of different disciplines and backgrounds, combining their intent to create something which maintains, and challenges its own world-leading pedigree.