The Celts: Rich Traditions and Ancient Myths

I guess that you have already heard about the 1987 documentary series that brought Enya’s first solo album. The story goes that the BBC producer Tony McAuley told Roma that they were looking for several “Celtic” composers to write music for their series in the working. Enya and Nicky quickly put together a demo for ‘March of the Celts’ and sent it out. The BBC people loved it so much they hired Enya on the spot to provide music for the entire series and the rest is history.

For many years, the documentary was a yeti of sorts, everyone has heard about it but no-one has seen it. The series was not available on dvd until 17 February 2004 when it got reissued in the US and then in Japan as ‘The Celts – Rich Traditions and Ancient Myths’. Yes, I know, a documentary made by the British public television about European ancestors… However, let’s not complain, there is no problem in getting it from the US and a lot of dvd players are now region-free. But should you put your money out and buy the dvd?


To get things straight from the start, this is an educational program made in the 80s. If this is not enough to scare you off, you get a point and you can continue. While the host Frank Delaney seems nice, the topic is interesting and hardly outdated after 25 years, I could not get myself to watch almost six hours of it. After the first episode I skipped straight to Enya videos and special features. I might see the rest on a rainy day but for now I will not judge the documentary itself. I will tell you about the Enya stuff because I know that is what you are interested in anyway.


There are two music videos that are part of the episodes. ‘Aldebaran’ features Enya singing the song in the dark. End of story. Luckily, ‘I Want Tomorrow’ ups the game. It actually ups it so much that you might not believe your eyes the first time you see the video.

What on Earth is going on?

It starts with Enya wearing a wig and associating with a group of homeless people. Her eyes glow. She puts on leather motorcycle gear and goes to a Stonehenge of sorts. A mad scientist with a weird machine causes fire and an electric storm. Enya travels in time. She gets rid of the wig and leather gear in favour of an 80s business girl outfit. She looks out in the distance and then burns a car. Right, she looks at a car and blows it up. WITH HER FINGER.

Now, if this isn’t worth your money I don’t know what is. I love this video because it is completely random and makes no sense whatsoever. I suppose that Enya represents a modern day Celtic girl being spellbound by Boadicea but who knows.

Enya and her father Leo being interviewed by Val Doonican The dvd set also includes an Enya-focused 1989 episode from Val Doonican’s ‘Homeward Bound’ tv show. Val interviews Enya and her dad, Leo Brennan, and Enya performs ‘On Your Shore’ and ‘Na Laetha Geal M’Óige’ on locations near her hometown, Gweedore. Enya talks about her childhood and inspiration behind several songs on ‘Watermark’, the interview is quite in-depth and brings interesting information. Val Doonican seems genuinely warm and interested in what Enya has to say so I rank this interview much higher than the usual short promo appearances we get to see on tv.


As for the music, here is a list of episodes and Enya’s songs in them:

  1. The Man with the Golden Shoes
    The Celts; March of the Celts; Epona; Severed Head; Boadicea; Spaghetti Western; Bard Dance; Sword Fight, To go beyond I

  2. The Birth of Nations
    The Celts; Untitled (Over Scarecrow); Deserted House; Deireadh an Tuath; Boadicea; The Sun in the Stream

  3. A Pagan Trinity
    The Celts; Fairy Tale I; Morrighan; Severed Head; Untitled; Triad (Cú Chulainn, Oisin, St.Patrick, Cú Chulainn); Deireadh an Tuath; Fairy Tale II + III

  4. The Open-Ended Curve
    The Celts; Untitled (Over Funerary Cart); March of the Celts; Traid (St.Patrick); Portrait (Out of the Blue); I want tomorrow, To go beyond I

  5. The Final Conflict
    The Celts; Dan y Dwr; To go beyond II; The Sun in the Stream; Deireadh an Tuath

  6. The Legacy
    The Celts; Seaside Ditty; Third Man; Untitled; Irish Piece; To go beyond II; Deserted House; Aldebaran; Portrait (Out of the Blue)

Most of these songs were released on Enya’s debut album ‘ENYA’ in 1986 and consequently on its 1993 reissue ‘The Celts’. Others would later be reworked and issued under new titles. ‘Morrighan’ is the Irish part of ‘Pax Deorum’, ‘Untitled (Over Scarecrow)’ is an old version of ‘The Longships’ and ‘Deserted House’ is a piano version of ‘Tempus Vernum’. And of course, the funky ‘Spaghetti Western’ appeared as a b-side on some editions of the 2005 ‘Amarantine’ single. But some of them, such as ‘Severed Head’ and ‘Fairytale II’ can still be heard only here.


I am really torn on whether I should recommend this one or not. I bought the dvd because I wanted to see the interview, hear the unreleased songs and own the video. The interview is really very good and it can be fun to hunt for new material once you think that you’ve heard everything but after all, these are just unfinished snippets scattered over six hours of television. I think it really depends on how much you are interested in Celtic history (a bit), how much of an Enya completist you are (kind of) and how much you enjoy watching Enya setting things on fire (a lot).

Product description

Director: David Richardson
Writer: Frank Delaney
Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Region: Region 1 (US and Canada)
Format: NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Number of discs: 2
Run Time: 325 minutes


For 800 years, a proud, vibrant, richly imaginative warrior people swept ruthlessly across Europe. The ancient Greeks called them “Keltoi” and honored them as one of the great barbarian races. Follow their fascinating story from their earliest roots 2,500 years ago through the flowering of their unique culture and their enduring heritage today, enhanced with stunning reconstructions of iron-age villages, dramatizations of major historical events and visits to modern Celtic lands. This fascinating look back at the legends and legacy of the Celtic heritage is underscored by the hauntingly beautiful music of Enya.


If you want a REALLY detailed tracklist, the Unity member The New Number Two made this index that he kindly shared with me:

Episode 1 The Man with the Golden Shoes

1. March of the Celts 5.40-6.35, 15.51-16.16, 17.01-18.33
2. Epona 8.14-9.32
3. Severed Head 11.05-11.21
4. Boadicea 23.03-24.51
5. Spaghetti Western 26.16-27.52
6. Bard Dance 38.13-39.26
7. Sword Fight 42.19-43.11
8. To Go Beyond (I) 52.50-54.13

Episode 2 The Birth of Nations

1. Untitled (The Longships) 6.27-7.17
2. Deserted House 9.11-9.42
3. Deireadh an Tuath 13.13-14.09
4. Boadicea 24.44-25.53
5. The Sun in the Stream 46.18-47.18

Episode 3 A Pagan Trinity

1. Fairy Tale (I) 1.22-2.58
2. Morrighan 4.30-5.36
3. Untitled (Pax Deorum) 6.16-7.36
4. Triad : Cu Chalainn 8 .36-9 .38
5. Severed Head 17 .11-18 .02
6. Untitled piece 24.29-24.36
7. Triad : Cu Chalainn 26.45-27.33
8. Triad: Oisin 35 .30-36 .31
9. Triad: St Patrick 36.32-39.29
10. Deireadh an Tuath 49.06-50.21
11. Fairy Tale (II) 51.10-53.21

Episode 4 The Open-ended Curve

1. Untitled Piece 1.14-2.06
2. Untitled (The Longships) 2.53-3.59
3. March of the Celts 4.37-6.16
4. Triad: St Patrick 11.42-12.49
5. Untitled piece 19.34-21.11
6. Fairy Tale (III) 21.12-22.27
7. Triad: St Patrick 23.40-24.12
8. March of the Celts 26.11-26.32
9. Portrait (Out of the Blue) 33.08-34.27
10. background video of Enya 38.28-39.44
11. background video of Enya 45.58-46.24
12. I Want Tomorrow 49.03-53.18
13. To Go Beyond (I) 53.19-54.42

Episode 5 The Final Conflict

1. Untitled piece 1.26-3.34
2. Dan Y Dwr 7.04-8.40
3. To Go Beyond (I) 25.17-25.46
4. The Sun in the Stream 27.36-30.13
5. Untitled piece 39.36-40.10
6. Dan Y Dwr 53.03-54.34

Episode 6 The Legacy

1. Seaside Ditty 15.35-16.36
2. Third Man 17.40-18.14
3. Untitled piece 22.58-23.56
4. Irish piece 39.14-39.32
5. To Go Beyond (II) 46.33-47.10
6. Deserted House w/Enya 48.07-49.05
7. Aldebaran 49.07-52.08
8. Portrait (Out of the Blue) 52.58-54.14