Moya Brennan is one of Ireland's most loved musical icons.

With an award winning career that spans over decades as both a founding member of Clannad and as a solo artist, her melodic tones are known to touch the soul. On January 31st, she features in the new TG4 special Ceol ó Kylemore: A Celebration of the Women of Irish Music.

We asked the 'First Lady of Celtic Music’ for her choice cultural highlights…

FILM

Two films I've just seen are Soul and Inside Out. Both are animations with incredible thought-provoking messages. They are beautifully made and suitable for everyone. Well worth a watch. If you're looking for a classic to re-watch, Cinema Paradiso still stands out as the constant favourite for me.

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BOOKS

Historical novels are a favourite of mine and I can't wait for the new one from Sebastian Faulks. His earlier novel Birdsong is top of my list. In the meantime, I'm getting into Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. There's a brilliant BBC TV series made from it too, starring Mark Rylance - so that's telly covered as well!

MUSIC

If you haven't heard it yet, have a listen to Tolü Makay's reimagining of the Saw Doctors classic N17. It is spellbinding and so unexpected, what a clever thing to take on.

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We worked together on the Irish Women in Harmony project, and her energy is so positive and inspiring. Not to mention her musical talent. She also joined me on a recent documentary on TG4 and we sang a duet of my song River of Songs together. That means so much to me as it's a song about my dad, Leo. He gave us all so much and I know he's around still.

THEATRE

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I can't wait for theatres to open again. In the meantime, check out what the Abbey Theatre is doing with their Dear Ireland Continues series. They describe it as "A virtual ‘open house’ performance of letters, poems, and songs that express the many different hopes, experiences, and challenges facing Ireland at this moment." They are also offering virtual backstage tours until the end of the month, so check out behind the scenes too. As classics go, I always go back to Playboy of the Western World, so that's a suggestion while we wait for new work to be staged again.

TV 

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I am a huge fan of period dramas like Downton Abbey and I was hooked on Game of Thrones, too. The latest is Bridgerton on Netflix, I've seen the trailers, so I'll finally be sitting down to binge watch it at the weekend. 

GIG

The last gig that blew me away was going to see Hanz Zimmer with my family at the 3Arena. Since we're all staying put for the moment, I'll be getting tickets to watch this week's Temple Bar Tradfest@home . I'm also really looking forward to the next Dublin gig by the very talented Talos, from Cork.

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ART

I'm most inspired by the works of the Impressionists. Particularly Monet, Cézanne and the American-born Mary Cassatt. I've recently got back into painting myself - and even did the cover art of my last two albums - so I'd recommend anyone interested in painting to take up the brush at the weekend and create something new for themselves.

The landscape around Gaoth Dobhair in Donegal always inspires me, but maybe I'm biased!


TECH

The app I get the most use out of is WhatsApp. It's a fantastic lifeline when you're on tour, and it was great to stay in touch with my kids. They're on the road with me now, so the WhatsApp group we're in is more about being on time for soundcheck and what's on the dinner menu. It's fun to create group chats, so let's hope it stays free... or we'll all be moving to Telegram!

THE NEXT BIG THING...

The next big thing for me is that I've started work on my new studio album with my Banyah team (my daughter Aisling and my son Paul). Check out their work as the dup Banyah duo - you can also hear them in the new Clannad lineup with me, when the rescheduled gigs start up again in the autumn.

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It's great being in a lockdown bubble with them and we're so blessed to have a studio at home and that their talents as studio engineers, composers and musicians means we can create the new music together. 

Moya Brennan of Clannad is one of the musicians celebrated in Ceol ó Kylemore: A Celebration of the Women of Irish Music, an hour-long special set against the backdrop of Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, featuring some of Ireland's best-known women traditional musicians and singers, including TG4 Gradam Ceoil award winners Mary Bergin, Laoise Kelly, Josephine Marsh and Sharon Howley, along with singers Cathy Jordan, Pauline Scanlon and up-and-coming star Sibéal. 

Ceol ó Kylemore, TG4, Sunday January 31st at 9.30pm