Fan Connections

Órla is an expert in connecting deeply with her fans. This is a genuine feeling on her part. One will often hear her refer to a fan as a friend. This is not idle chatter on her part, and is a big reason for her success. In this section we have examples of Órla winning hearts wherever she goes!

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John writes:

Some fifteen months back, I suffered the gravest, the darkest trauma and tragedy of my existence: In early December 2010, my 22-year-old daughter Allison was brutally murdered in Philadelphia, PA. In the blackness of that bereavement, the utter cold and dark of that mourning, the almost surreal sense of pain, sorrow and grief, I made a point of attending Orlagh Fallon's CD signing at the Borders in Boston, and later, her concert in Rockport, MA.

I was hoping, mainly, to just escape myself, my life, and my loss for a few hours. I didn't have any great notions or portent in terms of what the day might bring, but Orlagh was the last of the original Celtic Woman members I had yet to meet and I wanted, if nothing else, to thank her for the joy and beauty she'd brought my way. This was a Friday, the funeral had been that Wednesday; in a suddenly quite sad and dark world, joy and beauty seemed like suddenly quite precious commodities.

There are a handful of you who know what transpired in Boston; there are even a few who witnessed it. Orlagh Fallon, in terms in sheer graciousness and generosity, went well above and beyond the call of all duty. Apparently, Orlagh had been informed of my tragedy and knew whom to look for, because when I first approached her in the reception line following a brief concert, she immediately enfolded me in a gigantic hug. She held my hands as we spoke, and, as I recall, her words, kind and compassionate, comforting and supportive.

I don't know now exactly how long we spoke or exactly what we spoke of, and I'm not sure, given the circumstance, that I would say if even if I could remember (falling back on the privilege of privacy, I suppose), but it felt like a long time. Maybe it only felt that way for me, but it felt not so much as if time had stopped, but as if it'd slowed down a little (and given the events of the immediate past, that felt like a relief) and the most unreal part about it was its reality. As I mentioned, Orlagh was the last of the legendary Original Five I had yet to meet, and perhaps because of that, and her departure from Celtic Woman, her "legend" seemed to grow. And yet throughout our entire encounter all I was conscious of was Orlagh as a person; not as a "star," not as a Celtic Woman, not as a personal legend, but as another human being. Orlagh saw to that (and somehow, I think that means a lot more to Orlagh than the trappings of "stardom").

A not incidental side note: I had come to Boston to meet Orlagh: Mission Accomplished. I did have plans of driving on through to Brockport for that evening's concert. Unfortunately, a few friends -fellow citizens of Celtic Woman Nation- informed me that the show was sold out. Oh well, I thought, that was disappointing, but I'd really only wanted to meet her and express my thanks and appreciation. Having done that, I considered the trip a success. I so much as told her so, expressed my disappointment at missing the show, but also congratulations for an apparently quite successful ticket sale.

Orlagh, however, would have none of it. She called her manager Rory over and directed him to find me a ticket for the show. It took some doing but, later, while I was just hanging around Rockport waiting for those aforementioned forum friends to arrive so we could do dinner, a call came from Rory. He'd found me a ticket. What's more, it was "on the house." During the show that followed, Orlagh graciously and poignantly dedicated the song "Distant Shore" to me (and, by extension, to my daughter). Anyone familiar with the song certainly realizes how appropriate it was (however sadly) for the occasion. I thought it was a grand, noble gesture.

My eyes still well up with tears when I think of it.

I would open my review of that show with a description of the town itself, noting that there might be nothing more desperately prosaic than a summer resort town locked in the death-grip of winter. Sun, surf and sand buried beneath a caul of gray so unwieldy I could almost taste it; feeling, as I strolled the empty sidewalks and streets, like just another foot-soldier in a street-walking, window-shopping army of lost and lonely ghosts tramping a rather aimless, pointless path to nowhere.

As dusk drifted more closely to evening, the cold water of the bay, whose tide whispered sheepishly, if somewhat mysteriously, as it made its way to the empty shores and beaches, turned as black as a bottomless well of ink (the kind poets of old dipped quill pens in to write odes and sonnets to loves too soon and too young lost and gone forever). Boats and buoys bobbed upon it with somnolent disinterest, the muffled slap of it as it collided with their wood and fiberglass hulls echoed by a few straggler gulls; they limited their commentary to a chorus of squabbling squawks before taking wing and vanishing into the death-mask granite gray of the cloud-scudded sky. The night air turned more sharply chilly and dank; if I had spoke (although there was no one to speak to) my breath would have plumed around me like the mist vampires used to show up in the old Black and White Universal horror films of the 1930's and 40's. Night had fallen, winter had come. Both seemed endless and ageless.

One reason I wrote this is because this is how I felt, even as I sat at the back bay window of a (maybe too) quaint coffee shop, my drink growing cold, the darkness overwhelming everything, struggling to compose and transcribe a coherent thank note to Orlagh for all she'd done so far: I felt cold, lost, and infinitely alone.

The other reason I started it this way was to draw as sharp as contrast as possible between the pre-show mood and the within-the-show mood. An evening in the dear lady's living room could not have been more warm, more intimate, more welcoming than the evening she gave us from the stage of the Shalin Liu Performance Center, and her wonderful presence, the pleasing, eclectic range of music, and the overall sense of hominess and happiness she radiated with her voice and her smile made everything as right and cozy as a seat beside a fireplace on a snowy winter's night.

After the show, I watched as she met with, chatted with, signed autographs for, and took pictures with what looked like everyone in the place (certainly with anyone who asked). She did so with disarming élan and class, and in watching people walk away from their encounter, you could almost read in their faces that she'd made them feel every bit as special as they thought she was, as if they, and not she, were the stars.

I have regretfully, and perhaps ungallantly, shortchanged the lady by keeping the story pretty much to myself this whole time. Such generosity deserves recognition. But it seemed both such a private and personal moment (despite the public venues), and a more harrowing trip down Memory Lane than I cared to make, an uneasy, uncomfortable and disquieting one, one which I, perhaps selfishly, have been loathe to make (till now). I will say, however, that at one point in our conversation in Boston I told Orlagh that she was an angel sent straight from above. I told her I'd always told everybody that ladies of Celtic Woman were angels. What she had done for me that day only proved it. Although she laughed politely, I wasn't (really) joking. And though she humbly begged to differ, I respectfully told the dear lady that, in this case, she and I would simply have to agree to disagree.

There were no miracle cures, mind you. I didn't expect one and I didn't receive one. My heart and soul suffer to this day, and I assume they will for the rest of my days. But there was an island of calm and comfort in what were, at the time, the most treacherous and tumultuous seas I'd ever tried to navigate. Thinking now, though, maybe I was wrong about something: Perhaps, she wasn't so much an angel as simply a hero. My hero. After all, not all heroes run into burning buildings or put their lives on the line for the safety of our persons and our property. Some just stand with us in a moment of deepest, darkest despair. They don't "fix" it (they can't), but they don't run from it either. There is another word for this type of person: it is "friend." I would never presume to be Orlagh's friend, but for that moment at least she felt like mine.

And that's almost as good.

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George writes:

"My Memorable Moment of Órla"

First, of all of Órla's songs, number one for me is "The Isle of Inisfree". The movie from the early 1950's, "The Quiet Man", very subtly has the music of "The Isle of Inisfree" as background. That music has always been with me but without lyrics. Along came Celtic Woman with Órla on the harp and she singing the "Isle of Inisfree". We have attended every Celtic Woman concert in western Washington. Órla has had our total attention. I have believed from the first Celtic Woman show that Órla is a rising star.

The memorable moment occurred after I asked my daughter to play "Inisfree" for my birthday instead of "Happy Birthday". The restaurant was noisy so "Inisfree" didn't happen. I had mentioned to Órla via e-mail of the request. Six weeks later, Órla was in Tacoma at KVPT making a promo for "Distant Shore". She asked if I got "Inisfree" for my birthday and I explained about the noisy restaurant and that "Inisfree" didn't happen. She paused and said, "I'll do it"! Órla sang "Isle of Inisfree" very softly face to face. A month later, at a concert for Distant Shore, Órla announced that the final song would be the "Isle of Inisfree", a belated birthday song for her friend George in the front row.

When I play the CD's with "Inisfree" on it, I get misty-eyed.

Órla, that memory will never fade.

THANK YOU SO VERY VERY MUCH, ÓRLA.

Your friend and fan,

George Thornhill

George and Órla


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Ruth Ann writes:

I first became a fan of Órla when she was singing with Celtic Woman. I have always loved Celtic music, and when I first heard her sing, I thought to myself, "Now there's a kindred spirit!" I have both of her solo albums, and have used them many times to help me relax after a hectic day of work as an ELL teacher in a community with many refugees.

In March of this year, however, her music became even more of a balm to my soul as I lost my sister unexpectedly, and became the single guardian of my 14 year old niece, Evelyn. I have been particularly blessed by the songs "Simple Love" and "You'll Never Be the Sun," although my favorite of her original compositions is "Dancing in the Moonlight." I love the message of the first two, and the livliness of the latter!! I recently sent a brief note to Órla letting her know how much her music meant to me after my sister's death, and true to form, she sent back a compassionate note including an Irish blessing to cheer me and help me keep my perspective right. I have read and reread that note many times in the past months as my niece and I are rebuilding a new life together. I just wish Órla were closer to Idaho, where my niece and I live, because I think we would be great friends!! She definitely is a "kindred spirit." -------------Ruth Ann

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Katharine and Kristine write:

"You Come Shining Through, You Always Do"

In September of 2009, Kristine and I planned a trip to Maggie Valley, NC in October with our best friend to see the leaves change for Fall. Maggie Valley is a beautiful little town situated in the Smoky Mountains of NC. At the end of September, Kristine and I received our copies of Órla's Distant Shore CD, and we listened to it--and nothing else--for three weeks straight. We were (and still are) in love with that CD. Although our friend is a fan of Celtic Woman, and even attended a concert with us last year, she is not quite as "fascinated" as we are about them. But, when we got Órla's CD, we told her we thought she would enjoy it, and we should listen to it once on the ride up to Maggie Valley. That one time turned into the rest of the trip. We visited the town and went horseback riding up a mountain. The last event of the trip was watching the sun set over the real Cold Mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We sat on the hood of the car with the windows rolled down, and Órla was singing My Land. It was one of those moments in life, when you just sit back and think, "Oh my gosh. Life is wonderful." We were seeing "our" land while listening to a song that is about loving your country and seeing the beauty in it, where you come from and taking the time to see where you come from. Many of us are probably guilty of taking for granted where we come from and it's beauty. Watching the sun set over that mountain made Kristine and I aware of this. It may sound cheesy, but that moment was just magical. Anytime we listen to that CD now, we completely associate it with Maggie Valley and mountains. It just has that has that feel and vibe to it with songs like 'Voices on the Wind' and 'Who Knows.'

When we discovered Celtic Woman, Órla had already departed to embark on her solo career. We did not know if we would ever get the chance to see her live. Last year, we were not fortunate enough to see Órla in concert--the dates just did not work out for us. This year, however, she posted dates, and we are very excited to be getting the opportunity to see her in December! We are really looking forward to it! We are even hoping for the chance to meet her and tell her how much her music means to us and to share our story!

Órla, you and your music are "Always There." Thank you.

Love,

Katharine and Kristine Bradley

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Bruce writes:

Although I could easily cite more than one occasion where Órla has particularly touched my life in a special way, one instance stands out for me more than any other.

Earlier this year, in Owings Mills, Maryland a few of Órla's fans gathered for another evening with Órla and her beautiful music. Some had travelled considerable distances, and it was an afternoon to get to see old friends, meet some new, and as always with Órla concerts, get a chance to set aside life for a while and enjoy Órla's gifts to us.

If you know Órla, you understand how much she loves making beautiful music, loves her homeland and her heritage, but most of all loves the people who come to enjoy her concerts. This concert was no exception.

This particular day would mark the 4th occasion that I had seen Órla perform since going solo, and I was very excited to be there, as some of my dear friends and Órla's biggest supporters Kelli and Zee would be there. We found out that Órla would be receiving her unprecedented 4 Irish Music Awards at this concert, so it was likely to be a very special day for her as well.

Now one would think that attending Órla's concerts previously, and having Órla dedicate the song " Hard Times" to me on a number of occasions would suffice as being my most special moments with Órla, but this day was special.

Sitting in the concert hall as Órla did her usual beautiful singing and playing, and talked with the crowd a bit and it came to an end all too soon.

After a rousing standing ovation by the very exuberant crowd, Órla came back out to perform her encore "Hard Times", and yes she dedicated it to me again, her way of saying Thanks for supporting her, but this time was different. Sitting directly to my left was my dear friend Kelli, who, once the song had started, quietly reached over and took my hand and held it, and to say this brought on a few tears would be an understatement. A very kind gesture from a friend that I will cherish for the rest of my days. Órla touches us in ways she doesn't even know about sometimes, and feeling the Órla Love is always a good thing!

This was simply Kelli's way of acknowledging what we all think of Órla...that were so blessed by her gifts, and her friendship... something this world needs a lot more of.

You see were it not for Kelli, I would likely never have even met Órla, and been able to give such a wonderful Lady and musician, what little support I can.

It was by Kelli's lending a caring ear when I was very down due to the untimely death of a young former Horn Student of mine, that I spent any time on Órla's original forum. I used to tell Kelli that she and Órla were a lot alike..which I still say to this day... even though her opinion may differ. :-)

Órla knows how much I respect her as a musician and a person. If you've ever met her you know that she is the most caring, giving person you will likely ever meet. She is truly genuine about everything she says and does. When she tells us that it means the world to her that we support her, she means it, and it comes straight from her heart.

Like the cards say, "An Angels voice.....a Heart of Gold "

So to Órla and Kelli, I say a HUGE THANK YOU...you have both changed my life, and I will never forget that!!!!!!!

With Lots of Love to you both,

Bruce

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Ken writes:

My first real experience when I truly appreciated her talent was at a Celtic Woman concert at Bryce Jordan Arena in University Park, PA. My wife and I were part of a Meet and Greet session with two of the talented ladies with the Celtic Woman, which unfortunately Orla was not one of. To make a long story short, Órla's stage presence and ability to make you feel like you were the only one she was singing to is something I have seldom experienced. That, in addition to her angelic voice made the concert. The acoustics of the overall arena leave a lot to be desired, but her figuritively drawing us into the experience made it worth the cost--and then some.

The only time we have had the pleasure of meeting Órla was this past Spring when she was in Owings Mill, MD. The day before I had gone to the Vietnam War Memorial to visit fallen soldiers and show my respects for those listed on the Wall. While there, I purchased a POW/MIA Challenge Coin, which in turn I gave to Órla the next day since she had been kind enough to release a song at no charge on the Pentagon Radio. As a member of the U.S. Army that served during Vietnam, and our son who had served in Iraq it only seemed appropriate to give her the coin. She has done more to emotionally support our troops than many U.S. citizens.

Órla has stayed true to herself, which in departing from the Celtic Woman I am sure had been a difficult decision. She has taken "the path less travelled" as Robert Frost wrote.

Would it not be nice to say that we all have followed in her footsteps, and stayed true to what we feel is right? Financially in many cases it is a difficult choice, but being able to be proud of the person that is looking back at you in the mirror is the most important.

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Caoimhe is a young fan from Ireland who attended Órla's concert in Tipperary on 26 June 2010. She writes:



The concert was class!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2 hours of complete enjoyment!!!!!

Afterward we went back stage to meet Órla!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The minute Mammy said my name she remembered me!!!!!!!!!

She sends her best wishes!!!

There was a little boy backstage with her CD and a marker and Órla asked him if he wanted her to sign it he said only if you want to!!!!!!!

It was very funny!!!

We were very close to the stage, we were sitting with an American couple they were from Iowa.

Orla sang his favourite song Isle of Inisfree. He started crying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was very very very good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Caoimhe and Órla