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The Hounds of Cuchulain take fans on a rollicking musical journey

The Hounds of Cuchulain bring Celtic music to Victoria Event Centre for St. Patrick’s Day, March 17
The members of The Hounds of Cuchulain, from left to right: Madeleine Townley (harp and whistle), Dexter Simpson (tenor banjo), Wolf Edwards (guitar and lead vocals), Jeffery Feltmate (bodhran and fiddle), Briana Kennedy (lead fiddle), and Ben Garrison (mandolin). (Wolf Edwards)

By Tim Collins

Irish novelist James Joyce described Celtic music as the “light music of whiskey falling into glasses”.

While that description captures some of what makes Celtic music so enduring, (with all due respect to Mr. Joyce) it falls far short of describing the full scope of what characterizes Celtic music. It’s a musical genre that naturally finds its way into your soul and invariably leaves you smiling.

Wolf Edwards, the leader of Victoria’s The Hounds of Cuchulain, knows this all too well.

“They really are folk songs – many are delivered with a joyful bounce that connects people and lifts them up – but they’re so much more,” said Edwards.

The truth is that like most musical genres, Celtic music defies a simple description. It ranges from frenetic dance music to sad slow ballads that will tear your heart out.

The music addresses all sorts of subjects, from rebel songs that describe the yoke of British oppression to comical songs about drinking, sex and plain silly fun.

“The rebel songs are really about colonization and tend to resonate with First Nation people. There’s history there too. Take Black Velvet Band. It’s a song about prison ships transporting Irish prisoners to Australia,” Edwards said.

The Hounds of Cuchulain are masters of all aspects of Celtic music, and they love every bit of it.

The band’s name arises from the Celtic myth of the mythological character, Setanta. As a young boy, Setanta accidentally kills the fierce guard dog of Culann the Smith while playing hurling. To make amends, Setanta offers to take the place of the guard dog until a replacement can be found. Over time, he becomes known as Cú Chulainn, or the Hound of Culann, and proves himself as a fierce warrior in Irish mythology, known for his heroic deeds and loyalty.

Given that the myth has Irish, Scottish, English, and Welsh roots, the band felt it an appropriate name. Anyway, it sounds very cool.

“To us, the image of the (Irish) Wolfhound is emblematic of the history and variety of folk music: as a call to action, a racing reel, or music to bring to mind home, hearth, and good company,” said Edwards.

The Hounds of Cuchulain. (Wolf Edwards)

Edwards leads the group on guitar and vocals and is joined by an incredible talent in the form of Madeleine Townley on vocals, Irish harp, and tin whistle. There’s Jeffrey Feltmate on bodhrán and fiddle, with Dexter Simpson adding the Irish tenor banjo to the mix. Finally, Ben Garrison on mandolin plus virtuoso fiddler and master of harmony Brianna Kennedy round out the group in spectacular fashion.

The band’s popularity is growing with more than 88 shows in 2023. This year is set to exceed that number.

“We have the regular pubs that we play, and we play folk festivals like the Highland Games and Vancouver’s Scottish Festival,” said Edwards. “We play all over B.C. and especially like bringing our music to smaller communities, all up and down the Island.”

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In addition to their live performances, the group has released two albums and is currently working on a third. While most of the songs are traditional tunes, it hasn’t stopped Edwards from crafting some of his own music in the same Celtic style.

“I write songs that are often historical in nature. I like putting the past of the region into my songs in a sort of ‘60s-ballad style,” Edwards said. “There’s a long tradition in Celtic music of telling the stories of the people. That’s been true of a host of Celtic music legends, from The Dubliners to The Pogues and The Chieftains. It’s such great music and we try to carry on that tradition.”

One of the greatest influences on Edward’s music has come from the support of the well-known Canadian group, the Irish Rovers.

“George and Anne Miller are good friends and have always been great supporters,” he said. “George has told us that we possess the true old Irish sound. Coming from him, that’s a tremendous compliment and something we strive to deserve with every performance.”

Fans of the band, or of Celtic music in general, can hear the group on St. Patrick’s Day (Sunday, March 17) at Victoria Event Centre, 1415 Broad St. The show will also include a performance by the Victoria School of Irish Dance and is certain to be a rollicking good time.

You can also catch the group at Mary’s Blue Moon, The Loghouse Pub, and The Oaks Restaurant, just a few of the venues that regularly host the Hounds. All their performance dates as well as tickets for the St. Patrick’s Day show are available at

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