Celtic Family Christmas
MacMaster and Leahy: Balancing Family and Fiddlin’
Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are Canada’s reigning couple of Celtic music, whose dazzling career achievements underpin an off-stage life that balances performance and family.
Indeed, when MacMaster and Leahy married in 2002, the proverbial mantelpiece was instantly crammed with JUNO and East Coast Music Awards.
“The fiddle was definitely common ground for us when we first got together,” MacMaster, a Member of Order of Canada since 2006, recalls. And then, with time, MacMaster and Leahy grew their family…and their act. Their children today are the centrepiece of the MacMaster/Leahy live set, though not because the couple necessarily envision showbiz careers for Mary Frances, Michael, Clare, Julia, and Alec (Sadie’s only 3).
Rather, the pair realized early on that being on the road without their kids was infinitely harder than touring with them. That the children were already being home schooled made the decision easier (MacMaster has a teaching degree).
“Initially we were reluctant to let the kids perform. We worried the expectations might be too much,” Leahy says. “But then one night we put Mary Frances on stage. Soon after that Michael wanted to play. And you must reward practice. Our kids are practicing and when they come out on stage and do their little number, it’s their reward. They feel like a part of the tour and that provides amazing gratification.”
Appearing on Little Big Shots earlier this year must have only added to that:
But music isn’t the only tradition in the MacMaster/Leahy family: Donnell’s ancestors arrived in Douro, Ontario, in 1825 from County Cork in Ireland and started a beef farm. The farmer’s hat has been passed down every generation since.
MacMaster and Leahy point to the 120 acres of ancestral lands in Lakefield, Ontario, as yet another key part of their children’s education and development. “Teaching can take many forms,” MacMaster says.
Leahy adds that “running the farm is grounding and a great complement to life on the road. Plus, we believe in work and the farm is a wonderful place for the kids to learn through their chores.”
MacMaster says, “We do wrestle with fears about touring with the children – are they getting enough home life? But we also feel incredibly lucky to be together as a family and to be letting our children develop their musical talent.”
The MacMaster/Leahy family will be here on Tuesday, December 19th. Order your tickets today for an enchanting, family-friendly evening of Celtic and Christmas music.
Celtic Family Christmas