Celtic Band San Francisco Irish Music

Valerie is thrilled to be the newest member of the band The Gallowglasses. This San Francisco Bay Area Irish band features the stellar Celtic vocals of Donovan Ryan, plus the high-impact “wall of strings” artistry of Mike McNelly on Irish bouzouki and Mark Boronkay on guitar. Add Donovan’s driving bodhran playing and this band really gets the crowd going.

The band is equally at home playing complex counterpoint inspired by Irish bands such as Dervish and Planxty, as well as the rowdy Irish pub songs you love to sing along with. The band is now working on their third album of Irish favorites — stay tuned for updates.

The band has been celebrating the month of St. Patrick’s all over the San Francisco Bay Area, including at Lilly Mac’s Irish Pub in Sunnyvale and a corporate event in San Jose. The band led rousing Irish sea shanties at a Redwood City yacht club, plus choruses of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” at a San Jose parish event.

Three of the band’s members hail from the San Francisco South Bay (Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and Los Gatos), and one from the San Francisco Mid-Peninsula (San Mateo).

Who Were the Gallowglasses?Irish band Celtic San Jose

In the 12th and 13th centuries, Gallowglasses were Scottish mercenaries serving in Ireland. The word ‘Gallowglass’ would later come to mean, simply, foreigner.

Despite its strong Scots and Irish ancestry, the members that make up The Gallowglasses are all Americans – foreigners in many ways – to Ireland. Still, they strive to play the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland in ways that are both traditional and new.

Even the instrumentation tips the hat to the old (fiddle, bodhran, vocal) and the new (guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, mandola). Mix in occasional guest appearances by uilleann and border pipes, whistles, flutes, recorders and even drums – and the sound takes you to Ireland, Scotland, and beyond.

The band is available for performances all over the San Francisco Bay Area.