Pan Celtic Festival

Logos of the Pan Celtic Festival
GenreCeltic music festival
DatesEvery Spring
Years active1971–present
Founded byCon O'Connaill

The Pan Celtic Festival (Irish: Féile Pan Cheilteach; branded simply using the Irish name Pan Cheilteach) is a Celtic-language music festival held annually in the week following Easter, in Ireland, since its inauguration in 1971. The first Pan Celtic Festival took place in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland. Its aim is to promote the modern Celtic languages and cultures and artists from six Celtic nations: Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland (Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland compete as a single entity), Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales.

Each participating nation holds its own national selection event to choose its representatives at the Festival. The most successful nation is Wales with seventeen wins, with Ireland in second having won twelve times. Bénjad, who represented Cornwall in 2012 and 2013, became the first artist in the festival's history to have won twice. The Isle of Man is the least successful nation, having only won once in 2014.

Origins and history

Further information: Pan-Celticism

The six Celtic nations, as recognised by the Celtic League:

Formed in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland, the Pan Celtic Festival was organised as a music festival to be held every Spring, to promote the modern cultures and Celtic languages through the medium of music. It was originally entitled Gŵyl Gerdd Bach (Welsh for "Small Music Festival"), by Con O'Connaill, but later changed to its current name. In May 1971, the first festival took place in Killarney; and featured performers from Wales (Phyllis and Meredydd Evans), Ireland (Scoil na Toirbhirte), and Brittany (Les Tregerez Group and Alan Stivell).[1]

Meredydd Evans engaged in discussions with the event organiser, Ó Connaill, following the 1971 Festival, and invited him to the National Eisteddfod of Wales. At the Eisteddfod, Ó Connaill met members from other Celtic nations, and formed a committee for the Pan Celtic Festival. Participants from the six Celtic nations of Brittany (Breizh), Cornwall (Kernow), Wales (Cymru), Scotland (Alba), Ireland (Éire) and the Isle of Man (Mannin) took part in the second Pan Celtic Festival, again held in Killarney in 1972. It was during this festival that the core structure of the event was finalised following a meeting with committee members. These principles of the event are to promote the languages, musical talents and cultures within the six territories recognised as Celtic nations.[1]


Further information: Celtic nations

Eligibility to compete at the Pan Celtic Festival is for Celtic nations, which are territories in Northern and Western Europe where Celtic languages or cultural traits have survived, and are members of the Celtic League.[2] The term "nation" is used in its original sense to mean a community of people who share a common identity and culture and are identified with a traditional territory. It is not synonymous with "sovereign state".[1]

Nation[1] Celtic name Debut year
Brittany Breizh 1971
Cornwall Kernow 1972
Ireland Éire 1971
Isle of Man Mannin 1972
Scotland Alba 1972
Wales Cymru 1971

National selections

Brittany: Gouelioù Etrekeltiek An Oriant

Further information: Festival Interceltique de Lorient

Participating broadcasterFrance 3 Bretagne
Participation summary
First appearance1971
Highest placement1st: See table below

The Gouelioù Etrekeltiek An Orient (English: Inter-Celtic Festival of Lorient, or French: Festival Interceltique de Lorient) is an annual Celtic festival, located in the city of Lorient, Brittany, France. The event also acts as a national selection process to determine the Breton representative for the annual Pan Celtic Festival. It was founded in 1971 by Polig Montjarret. This annual festival takes place every August and is dedicated to the cultural traditions of the Celtic nations (pays celtes in Brittany), highlighting celtic music and dance and also including other arts such as painting, photography, theatre, sculpture, traditional artisan as well as sport and gastronomy.[3]

Cornwall: Kan Rag Kernow

Participation summary
First appearance1972
Highest placement1st: See table below

Kan Rag Kernow (English: A Song for Cornwall) is a Cornish annual song contest to find a representative for Cornwall at the Pan Celtic Festival, held annually in Ireland.[4] The Cornish group, The Changing Room, won the 2015 Kan Rag Kernow on 30 January 2015.[5] The group went on to represent Cornwall at the 2015 Pan Celtic Festival, finishing in first place with the song "Hal an Tow" (Flora Day).[6]

Ireland: Comórtas Amhrán Náisiúnta

Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Participating broadcasterTG4
Participation summary
First appearance1971
Highest placement1st: See table below

The Comórtas Amhrán Náisiúnta (English: National Song Contest) is the Irish selection process to determine the representatives for Ireland at the annual Pan Celtic Festival. In 2015, the selection show was held at the Seven Oaks Hotel, in Carlow, on 7 March.[7]

Isle of Man: Arrane son Mannin

Isle of Man
Isle of Man
Participation summary
First appearance1972
Highest placement1st: See table below

The Arrane son Mannin (English: Song for the Isle of Man) is the Manx competition through which a song is selected for the Pan Celtic Festival. In 2015, Shenn Scoill, a quartet whose name means "Old School", were chosen to represent the island.[8]

Scotland: Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail

Further information: Royal National Mòd

Participating broadcasterBBC Alba
Participation summary
First appearance1972
Highest placement1st: See table below

Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail (English: The Royal National Mòd) is the Scottish Gaelic selection process, organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach, to find the Scottish representative for the Pan Celtic Festival, held annually in Ireland.[9] The Scottish band, Na h-Òganaich, were the first representatives for Scotland at the 1971 Pan Celtic Festival. They represented Scotland again in 1972, with the song "Mi le m’Uillin", finishing in first place.[10]

Wales: Cân i Gymru

Further information: Cân i Gymru

Participating broadcasterS4C
Participation summary
First appearance1971
Highest placement1st: See table below

Cân i Gymru (English: A Song for Wales, Welsh pronunciation: [ˈkaːn i ˈɡəmrɨ]) is a Welsh television show broadcast on S4C annually. It was first introduced in 1969 when BBC Cymru wanted to enter the Eurovision Song Contest. It has taken place every year since, except in 1973. Cân i Gymru is different from most talent shows; whereas the majority invite the public to participate, Cân i Gymru welcomes only professional artists. The winner of the contest represents Wales at the annual Pan Celtic Festival held in Ireland and is also awarded a cash prize.[11]

Wales made their debut participation in the Eurovision Choir of the Year 2017, which marked the second time in any of the Eurovision Family of Events that the country was not represented as part of the unified state of the United Kingdom, after 1994, when Wales participated lastly in the Jeux Sans Frontières.[12] Wales used the talent show Côr Cymru, to select their representatives.[13]

Festival hosts

Pan Celtic Festival is located in island of Ireland
Locations of the towns and cities in Ireland who have hosted the Pan Celtic Festival.

The festivals, since 1971, have been held in various towns and cities in Ireland.[1] Below is a list of the host cities and their respective years of hosting. The 2001 festival was cancelled due to the foot-and-mouth outbreak.[1] As is shown below, County Kerry have hosted the festival twenty-nine times since 1971, with the most recent the 2011 Festival, in the town of Dingle, who first hosted the event in 2010.[14] County Clare have only hosted once in 1997.[1]

Festivals Irish county Location Years
29 County Kerry Killarney 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980,
1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990
Tralee 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005
Dingle 2010, 2011
6 County Donegal Letterkenny 2006, 2007, 2018, 2019
Donegal 2008, 2009
6 County Carlow Carlow 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2023, 2024
4 County Galway Galway 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
2 County Kilkenny Kilkenny 2002, 2003
2 County Londonderry Derry 2014, 2015
1 County Clare Ennis 1997

List of winners

By festival

The table below lists all of the annual Pan Celtic Festival winners since its inaugural event in 1971.[1]

Na h-Òganaich, representatives for Scotland who won the 1972 Pan Celtic Festival with the song "Mi le m’Uillin".
Capercaillie, representatives for Scotland who won the 1985 Pan Celtic Festival with the song "Urnuigh a Bhan Thigreach".
Year[1] Artist[1] Winning nation[1] Song[1] English translation
1971 Scoil na Toirbhirte Ireland "Tomás MacCurtain" Thomas MacCurtain
1972 Na h-Òganaich Scotland "Mi le m' Uillin" With my elbow
1973 Margaret O'Brien Ireland "Goirm Thú" Animal erasers
1974 Iris Williams Wales "Cymru Rydd" Free Wales
McMurrough Ireland "Cuan Bhaile na Cúirte" Courtown Harbour
1975 Bran Wales "Caled Fwlch" Excalibur
1976 Mary Sandeman Scotland "Thoir dhom do Lamh" Give me your hand
1977 Kyaalldan Britanny "Breizh" Brittany
1978 Gouelia Britanny "Korn-Bout" Fog Horn
1979 Margaret MacLeod Scotland "An Lon Dubh" The blackbird
1980 Dermot O'Brien Ireland "Neansaí" Nancy
1981 Kathleen MacDonald Scotland "Oran do Cheit"
1982 Bando Wales "Nid Llwynog Oedd Yr Haul" Deceptive Sun
1983 Mary MacInnis Scotland "Nam Aonar le no Smuaintean" Alone with my thoughts
1984 Ragamuffin Cornwall "Ar Wrannen" The wren
1985 Capercaillie Scotland "Urnuigh a Bhan Thigreach"
1986 Kristen Nicolas Britanny "Gwerz Maro Paotr Anst"
1987 Eryr Wen Wales "Gloria Tyrd Adre" Gloria come home
1988 Manon Llwyd Wales "Cân Wini" Winnie's song
1989 Hefin Huws Wales "Twll Triongl" Triangular hole
1990 Christine Kennedy Scotland "'M' Iondrainn air Chuairt"[15]
1991 Philip Knight Cornwall "Deus yn-rag, Dolli" Come On, Dolly
1992 Gerróid O'Murchú Ireland "Soilse geala na cathrach" Bright city lights
1993 Liam Ó hUaithne Ireland "An Pobal Scaipthe" Public dissemination
1994 Geraint Griffiths Wales "Rhyw Ddydd" Some Day
1995 Gwenda Owen Wales "Cân I'r Ynys Werdd" Song to the Emerald Isle
1996 West Group Cornwall "An Arvair" The arms
1997 Art Ó Dufaigh & Sean Ó hEanaí Ireland "Comhartha an Ghaoil" Sign the relationship
1998 Arwel Wyn Roberts Wales "Rho dy Law" Give your hand
1999 Per Nod Wales "Torri'n Rhydd" Cutting loose
2000 Rachael gans Tir Kemmyn Cornwall "Tir Kemmyn" Common land
2001 Gainor Haf Wales "Dagrau Ddoe" Yesterday's tears
2002 Elin Fflur a'r Moniars[16] Wales "Harbwr Diogel" Safe harbour
2003 Treiz Noath Cornwall "Mor Menta Sewia" If you want to follow
2004 Kentyon Bew Cornwall "Treusporthys" Transported
2005 Krena Cornwall "Fordh Dhe Dalvann" Road to Dalvann
2006 Gealbrí Ireland "Seolfaidh Me Abhaile" Send me home
2007 Deirdre Níi Chinnéide le Fraoch Ireland "Tá mé caillte go deo" I am lost forever
2008 Aled Myrddin[17] Wales "Atgofion" Memories
2009 Elfed Morris Wales "Gofidiau" Sorrows
2010 Màiri Chaimbeul & Jenna Moynihan Scotland "Sùilean Soilleir Ghorm" Clear blue eyes
2011 Brigyn[18] Wales "Rhywun yn Rhywle" Someone somewhere
2012 Bénjad[19] Cornwall "Mordid Bewnans" Life's tides
2013 Bénjad[19] Cornwall "Breten Vyhan" Brittany
2014 Shenn Scoill[20] Isle of Man "Tayrn Mee Thie" Carry Me Home
2015 The Changing Room[6] Cornwall "Hal an Tow" Raise the roof[21]
2016 Cordia[22] Wales “Dim Ond Un” Just One
2017 Emer O'Flaherty, Paddy Mulcahy & Angelo Heart Ireland "Taibhse" Ghost
2018 Padraig Seoighe & Niall Teague Ireland "Ar Saoire" On holiday
2019 Daríona Ní Dhonnchadha, Ollie Hennessy, Ciarán Tourish. Song written by Áine Durkin[23] Ireland "Ní Thuigim" I do not understand
2020 No contest held due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2023 Karrygi Du[24] Cornwall "Oll an dra" Run the show
2024 Sara Davies[25] Wales "Ti" You

By Celtic nation

Map showing each Celtic nation's number of Pan Celtic Festival wins (1971–2024)

The table below lists all of the Pan Celtic Festival winners by Celtic Nations, since its inaugural event in 1971. Wales is the most successful nation to date, with seventeen wins; Ireland coming in second with twelve wins. The Isle of Man achieved their one and only win to date in 2014.[1]

Wins[1] Celtic nation Years
17 Wales 1974, 1975, 1982, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2016, 2024
12 Ireland 1971, 1973, 1974, 1980, 1992, 1993, 1997, 2007, 2008, 2017, 2018, 2019
11 Cornwall 1984, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2023
8 Scotland 1972, 1976, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1990, 2010
3 Brittany 1977, 1978, 1986
1 Isle of Man 2014


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Gwyl Ban Geltaidd: History". Gŵyl Ban Geltaidd. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  2. ^ Koch, John (2005). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABL-CIO. pp. xx, 300, 421, 495, 512, 583, 985. ISBN 978-1-85109-440-0. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  3. ^ "Festival Interceltique de Lorient". Festival Interceltique (in Breton). Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  4. ^ "Kan rag Kernow". Maga Kernow. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  5. ^ "Flora Day inspired song wins competition to find Cornish song for Pan Celtic Festival". Falmouth Packet. 4 February 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b Granger, Anthony (10 April 2015). "Pan Celtic: Cornwall wins Pan Celtic Song Contest 2015". Eurovoix. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  7. ^ "Pan Celtic National Song Contest 2015". Visual Carlow. Archived from the original on 19 April 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  8. ^ Caine, Valerie (8 April 2015). "Isle of Man: Manx Competitors Head for the Legenderry Pan Celtic Festival". Transceltic. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  9. ^ "ACG History". An Comunn Gàidhealach. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  10. ^ "Na h'Oganaich". Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame. November 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  11. ^ "Rules – Cân i Gymru 2015". S4C. Archived from the original on 15 April 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  12. ^ Granger, Anthony (3 April 2017). "Wales confirms participation in Eurovision Choir of the Year 2017". Eurovoix. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Côr Cymru 2017 competition conditions" (PDF). S4C. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  14. ^ "Pan Celtic Festival". An Comunn Gàidhealach. 27 April 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  15. ^ "M' Ionndrainn air Chuairt". Bliadhna nan Òran, BBC Alba (in Scottish Gaelic).
  16. ^ Lloyd, Bethan (15 April 2023). "Llwyddiant i'r Cymry yn yr Ŵyl Ban Geltaidd". Lingo360. Retrieved 9 March 2024.
  17. ^ "Manx Music Today" (PDF). Retrieved 9 March 2024.
  18. ^ "Success at the Pan Celtic Festival". S4C. 6 May 2011. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  19. ^ a b Parker, Simon (30 April 2013). "Benjad scores Pan Celtic double with self-penned Breton love song". Western Morning News. Retrieved 10 April 2015.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "Isle of Man New Song win at Pan Celtic festival". BBC News. 25 April 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  21. ^ Winick, Stephen (29 March 2021). ""Hal An Tow": Some Intriguing Evidence on a May Song". Library of Congress. Retrieved 8 March 2024.
  22. ^ Granger, Anthony (1 April 2016). "Pan Celtic Song Contest: Wales wins the 2016 contest". Eurovoix World. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  23. ^ "Irish entry wins International Pan Celtic Song Contest". Donegal Daily. 26 April 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  24. ^ "2023 Competition Results". International Pam Celtic Festival. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  25. ^ "Wales wins the Pan-Celtic Song Contest". Eurovoix World. 6 April 2024. Retrieved 6 April 2024.