Like so many children of musicians, Megan Ruby Walsh, the newest member of the Celtic Woman cast, was destined to join the lyrically inclined ranks.
Both her parents were musicians. She was just 4 years old when her mother took her to a rehearsal of the local musical society. At that point, Walsh was hooked.
“Music just speaks to everyone,” Walsh said in a recent interview, “and I fell in love with it. I fell in love with singing. I fell in love with the feeling I got when I sang. I think that was because I grew up in a musical family where music was played every day, like when we were in the car, while mom was cooking, while dad was cooking—the music was playing all day. It just became such a big, big part of my life. I knew what I wanted to do when I was 4.”
And actually, to be more specific, Walsh’s first love was musical theater. She sang her first solo at age 7. It was “Tomorrow” from the musical “Annie.”
From that point on, there was no looking back.
She moved on to study music, delving more deeply into musical theater with the Gaiety School in Dublin. “I took singing lessons,” she said, “and it was just about everything about musical theater I adored.”
When Walsh turned 13, she began to focus on classical music and, she said, “it became my niche. That led me on to studying in London at the Royal Academy, and I did a classical degree there. So classical training has been a huge part of my life.”
Along the way, Walsh performed in “Cats,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and the venerable “Les Misérables,” in which she played the challenging role of Cossette. She also performed with the Cross Border Orchestra, with which she toured—including an appearance at Carnegie Hall.
Like so many kids in Ireland, Walsh grew up watching and listening to Celtic Woman—a phenomenon that was supposed to be a limited engagement that evolved into the juggernaut it is today. “I was 6 or 7 when the first Celtic Woman special came out,” she said. I still remember seeing that visual in my head, of these beautiful women and the beautiful music and the beautiful castle. It was just awe-inspiring.”
Walsh was performing in Paris back in 2018 when she received a tweet from Celtic Woman alum Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, asking whether she wanted to audition. It was a bolt out of the blue.
“I said I couldn’t because I was in Paris,” Walsh recalled. “So I sent in some video of me singing, and then from the videos, she asked me whether I could come another day. So I got the Eurostar from Paris to London, and then I got another train from London to Wales—and then a boat from Wales to Dublin. I went to sing for them, and it paid off in the end.”
Walsh dove right into things, joining the ensemble for the recording of “Ancient Land,” just a few days later, and then going on tour with the show. The first time she performed was filming a special. “It was very much go, go, go as soon as I arrived.”
“Christmas time is my favorite time of year,” Walsh said, “and I adore Christmas music. So it was great to get to record it. Celtic Woman hasn’t done a Christmas album in a number of years, so we’re all really, really excited and it’s a perfect mixture of the old and the new. We’ve brought back songs like “O Holy Night” and “Sleigh Ride” with brand new arrangements. And then we have some brand-new numbers as well, like “Dia Do Bheatha,” which is a traditional Irish song, and “Amidst the Falling Snow.” And again, we’ve put our own twist on it, and we’re really excited about it.”
As luck would have it for Philadelphia-area audiences, the very first stop on the U.S. tour is at Wind Creek Event Center in Bethlehem on November 26. (Tickets here.) You can also catch the show at Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City on the 29th.
Of all the tunes in the show, Walsh’s personal favorite is “O Holy Night.”
“I grew up singing that song every year,” Walsh said. “I have a very big family—I’m the youngest of seven, and we kind of live all over, but on Christmas we all come together, and that’s the song that we sing. Most of my family sing or play an instrument and we all come together on that one day and sing and play that song. It has always held a special place in my heart and getting to do it now with the girls on this album, with this gorgeous arrangement, is just a dream come true.”