The High Kings are Finbarr Clancy, Darren Holden, Brian Dunphy and newest member Paul O’ Brien. The High Kings formed in June 2007 when Brian, Darren, Finbarr and former member Martin Furey were asked to join a brand-new Irish ballad group by David Kavanagh after he had noticed a gap in the market for a band specialising in traditional Irish music.

It didn’t take long during their first studio rehearsal for them to realise that the way their individual voices blended together meant that they were onto something special. The High Kings play 13 instruments between them, creating the unique sound and atmosphere that they still showcase to this day. This was confirmed when their self-titled debut album reached number 2 on the world Billboard Music chart. In March 2009 The High Kings played 5 consecutive sold out shows to a packed audience in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre.

Towards the end of 2009 The High Kings licensed their second studio album ‘Memory Lane’ to Universal Music Ireland signifying the fast trajectory that the band had taken in their short lifespan.  ‘Memory Lane’ was released in February 2010 and after a successful Irish tour the album went platinum in June only 4 months after its initial release. They followed ‘Memory Lane’ with a ‘Live in Ireland’ album which received critical acclaim as it showcased the energy that the band brings to the live shows.

By 2011 the band had out grown the venues they had been previously playing and had to start playing larger venues not only in Ireland but also in America and across Europe. Many fans became regular faces as they effectively followed the band on their sold-out tours many crossing oceans and borders through-out the world just to see their favourite band perform live. People loved what they were doing; bringing a new take on traditional Irish ballads to audiences of multiple generations. In 2013 the band licensed their forthcoming album 'Friends for Life’ to Sony Worldwide, another indication of their global appeal. ‘Friends for Life’ featured 8 original songs written and composed by the band and was released in 2013. Taking their original songs on the road was a new and exciting milestone for the band and it wasn’t long before the likes of ‘Oh Maggie’ and ‘Irelands Shore’ were being sung back to them by the audience.

November 2014 marked another milestone for the band when they recorded ‘Four Friends Live’ at the Millennium Forum in Derry which was their first joint CD/DVD and the first live DVD recording since the debut DVD 'Live in Dublin' in 2008. The early part of 2016 was spent back in the studio recording their ‘Grace & Glory’ album. The album charted at number 1 on the Irish Indie charts and was very well received by critics and fans alike. The rest of 2016 and early 2017 was spent extensively touring the new album. Over the past 12 years The High Kings have released 4 studio albums, 2 live albums and 2 DVDs. In 2017 they released a compilation album ‘Decade’ which celebrated 10 amazingly successful years together and also included 5 brand new recordings.

In 2012 they performed for President Obama in Moneygall, this led to a personal invitation from the president to perform at the 2012 White House St. Patrick’s Day celebration. They flew directly from London where they had already been the headline act for the Lord Mayor of London’s St. Patrick’s Day concert. In 2015 The High Kings were invited to the Pentagon as guests of General Martin Dempsey, who is the Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff. They performed alongside the US Marine Corps band marking another special occasion for the band. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Irish Rugby anthem ‘Ireland’s Call’ the band were asked by the original composer Phil Coulter to record their own version which was subsequently included in the TV3 documentary.

The High Kings continue to set the bar extremely high for Irish Folk bands across the world and are widely regarded to be at the forefront of the genre. In 2019 after a 12 year journey The High Kings continue to perform in sell out venues across the globe to their ever-growing army of loyal fans that span generations.  

Darren Holden
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Darren Holden

Darren Holden

Darren Holden is not only a prolific Songwriter and Musician but a master interpreter of lyrics as well. Audiences around the world continue to praise his exceptional vocal talents. Originally from Mooncoin County Kilkenny, he is comfortable performing all genres of music from Pop and Jazz to Country and Celtic.

Darren starred as The Piano Man (Billy Joel) in the Tony Award-winning hit Billy Joel/Twyla Tharp musical Movin’ Out both on Broadway and on tour for four years receiving unanimous critical acclaim throughout the US, Canada and Japan. He was lead singer with RIVERDANCE on Broadway and on tour for more than three years.

A top ten recording artist in Ireland, Darren toured with Boyzone on their first major tour of Ireland and the UK . He had numerous chart hits with such songs as “After Tonight” and “More Than I Can Say.” His debut solo album, “Suddenly” produced three top 20 hits. His CD of original traditional/contemporary Country songs, “Live & Learn,” released in 2002 in the US, produced three top 40 airplay hits and Darren was nominated for a 2004 New Music Weekly Award (“Best Male Country Artist”).

Darren relished the opportunity to join The High Kings, and reach a new audience, singing the songs he had learnt as a child. A key High Kings moment for Darren was performing at the half time section of the All –Ireland Hurling final, which his beloved Kilkenny won. As Darren said, It was the biggest hometown crowd he had ever played for. The High Kings flew home specially for the event from their headline US tour, one of three hugely successful tours they completed in 2008

Although his schedule is hectic, he manages to balance his work and home life, as he has had not one, but two new arrivals to his family since joining The High Kings. Along with his wife Michelle, Darren revels in home life with daughters Ava and Sophie and son Josh.

Despite having such a full schedule, Darren finds time to help out many worthy charities and frequently uses his talents to help others raise funds.

Finbarr Clancy
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Finbarr Clancy

Finbarr Clancy

Finbarr was born in County Waterford to Moira and Bobby, brother to Liam, Paddy & Tom Clancy. Growing up in the Clancy dynasty, Finbarr’s was plucking the banjo and playing the bodhran from the age of 5.

His first professional performance was on stage at the tender age of ten singing and playing the banjo with his cousin Eban Clancy (Liam’s son). Finbarr went on to learn the guitar and flute and began writing songs at the age of 17.

Finbarr began touring North America with his Father and Uncles, The Clancy Brothers, in 1995. Following the passing of his uncle Paddy and later his father, Bobby in 2002. Finbarr continued the tradition by touring with Eddie Dillon and Mark Fitzpatrick along the festival route, which included playing at America’s biggest Irish Festival in Milwaukee.

As part of The Clancy Brothers, Finbarr played all over the world and had many TV appearances, as well as recording credits such as Clancy Sings Along Songs, The Quiet Land and Make Me a Cup with Bobby Clancy and Eddie .

It was when Finbarr decided to move back to Ireland after touring the US that things started moving very quickly. Within a few months of moving home, Finbarr joined The High Kings and spent all his time rehearsing and recording a new album and DVD.

Having just left America, Finbarr found himself back in New York, appearing on hit TV shows The View and This Morning performing with The High Kings. After touring with Billboard chart toppers, Celtic Woman, The High Kings came back to Ireland to do two sell out tours, within months of each other.

The music of the Clancy’s was integral to Finbarr’s musical education and he hopes to continue this strong ballad tradition with The High Kings

Brian Dunphy
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Brian Dunphy

Brian Dunphy

Brian was born in Dublin. He realised early on that the musical path would be the one he would follow. So far it has lead him to great accomplishments and also to meeting his wife Ann, with whom he appeared in a stage version of Rocky Horror Picture show.

Brian’s biggest break came when he won the Lead singer role in “Riverdance The Show”, traveling extensively throughout America, Canada, China, Australia and Europe. He spent two years singing at The Gershwin Theatre on Broadway in New York and as lead vocalist in Radio City Music Hall. While there, he had the honour of performing the American National Anthem at Madison Square Gardens and appearing on “The Today Show”.

Following Riverdance he joined The Three Irish Tenors and enjoyed huge success stateside, and Europe beckoned next as he took on a role performing as his father in a tribute to the Irish Show-Band stars of yesteryear, “Dance Hall Qs And Hucklebuck Shoes”.

Throughout his already very successful career, Brian has had the honour of recording with many artists including world renowned violinist Vanessa Mae, Celtic Woman, Bill Whelan’s Riverdance-On Broadway and Riverdance – The 10th Anniversary.

Brian is never fazed by the wise-cracking comments thrown at him from a sometimes raucous audience member. Indeed, enjoying the exchange. Being of a gregarious nature, he enjoys immensely meeting fans of The High Kings after a show and hearing their stories.

Although Brian loves touring, he loves his family life as well and sees no conflict between selling out to a 1000 strong crowd one night and serving up weetabix to his five year old son Sam the next morning, as he feels both roles, Performer and Father are a good fit for him.

Paul O'Brien
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Paul O'Brien

Paul O'Brien

Paul O’Brien is a singer and songwriter from Rathdowney, Co. Laois.

Paul comes from a very musical background, getting his love of music from listening to his dad who played the drums in the Rathdowney Céilí band. Paul’s father also played Bodhrán and spoons and his musicality passed itself down a generation. Paul himself is a self-taught musician; he plays Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Bouzouki, Whistles, Harmonica and of course Bodhrán.

Paul has played music covering Irish Traditional and Ballads, Folk and Country. He has gigged around many pubs and local venues in Ireland and also spent 2 years living and gigging in Puerto Rico in Gran Canaria as a one man band ! He regularly performed in Kilkenny City through the Summer season, singing Irish Ballads and Folk music to the tourist audience, with a big American contingent who were highly appreciative.

Paul was delighted to be asked to join The High Kings in 2019 and eagerly grasped the opportunity. The band’s 2019 Christmas single is the first recording featuring Paul as part of the band. He is very happy to share the stage with Darren, Brian and Finbarr and looks forward to more performing and recording as part of The High Kings.


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