Ryan Kelly, member of Celtic Thunder singing group and also part of musical duo Byrne and Kelly has visited Tasmania twice as a member of Celtic Thunder however,  next year’s visit will see him tour for the first time, as half of Byrne and Kelly, with fellow Celtic Thunder member Neil Byrne making up the other half.

The duo’s experience will be a more intimate one with just themselves and a pianist, a very different experience from the Celtic Thunder production of a 60 piece symphony orchestra, which Ryan is part of at the time of our chat, as Celtic Thunder tours the US. Ryan tells me he enjoys both productions equally, but differently.

Ryan is enthusiastic about visiting Tasmania again as he loves the local’s appreciation of culture and in spite of the distance between Ireland and Tasmania, music proves once again its universality, with the performance and songs resonating with audiences. On the subject of audiences’ reception of the songs Ryan adds that he welcomes the many interpretations of the songs of audiences and says he would never dismiss anyone’s interpretation, even if it were something he as the writer never considered. Ryan just marvels at music’s ability to speak to the individual’s heart and soul.

Of Ryan’s song writing process with Neil Byrne, each guy has their own approach, in fact come January, Ryan will take himself off to a remote cottage in County Cavan and work on new songs for the upcoming tour.

Considering the solitary pursuit that song writing can be and how touring takes you away from those you hold dear for long periods of time, Ryan tells me about how, when he is away on tour, he misses and is missed by his French bulldog Larry. Larry has become something of a celebrity in his own right among Ryan’s fans and Ryan says he is somewhat deflated that the fans often bring more gifts for Larry than for him! Ryan’s mum takes care of Larry when Ryan is away on tour and says Ryan Larry is thoroughly spoiled, so much so, Ryan believes one day Larry might decide not to return home with him at all.

When Ryan is on tour perhaps to the amusement of some fans he keeps in touch with Larry via skype!

You can see Ryan and Neil sans Larry in Hobart on February 8 2018.