4 minute read

The Next Generation Leahy

By Jay Cooper Contributor / Musican
Photo by Linda Jenkins

Following the Family Tradition

The Leahy family are not only known and loved throughout the world, but they are also the pride and joy of Lakefield Ontario.

The eleven siblings worked hard with countless shows and their efforts are definitely noticed with a Platinum Album, three Juno Awards and an Academy Award for a short film about the family. So now it’s time for The Next Generation Leahy kids to take centre stage. Sitting down with father Doug and the children was a history lesson and what’s to come in the future.

The conversation started with Doug explaining, “I’m 5th generation Irish. Michael Leahy came over here with his family in 1825. My mom is from Cape Breton Nova Scotia and met my father in the Ottawa Valley at a fiddle contest. The Leahy farm is a busy place on Hwy 28 just east of Lakefield. Throughout spring till fall, the Leahy Market is where the family all work together. Doug says, “Mom and Dad bought this farm 50 years ago, I took it over in 2000 with my wife Jennifer and we have nine children”.

Why do they love Lakefield and the Kawarthas? “It’s amazing to have the opportunity to travel the world with our music, but when you go away makes you appreciate what home is. We love the landscape, trees and water. And the proximity to Toronto is wonderful for traveling. The land, crops and cattle are what I grew up with and I’m passing it along to our children. It’s a wonderful environment to raise a family. The stage and the travel are fantastic but there has to be balance between both. And home is home”, says Doug.

How is it possible that all these siblings can play different instruments and dance so well? Doug explains, “My Dad was the youngest of nine boys and they all played instruments and he didn’t. They had a

party and the others were playing and it drove him crazy (he laughs). The next morning he asked one of his brothers to teach him to play the fiddle. That was how badly he wanted to do what the rest could do. Now with all the Leahy’s there are 38 grand children and most of them play music. It’s an environment that our kids are surrounded by. They love and want to play and perform so nothing is forced. The kids also listen to different styles of music and play those styles and when you bring those flavours together you create something new and exciting.”

Doug continued, “The Next Generation Leahy’s evolved because my parents had a band that played at dances and weddings. When the kids got older they would do a number and then my generation started to take over the spotlight without my parents. Now the same thing is happening again. Our children did a few songs with us but people started to want a full show with them. So we built a show over about a year, as we want to do everything very well. Then it took off and we have toured most of North America

and have been invited to go to Scotland, Ireland and even China. They are now the show and the odd time they bring us out which is awesome (he laughs).”

As the kids explain, “With some early shows we would come out with a few of us as Mom was home taking care of the little ones. But now we go as a whole family, travel the world and we love it. Celtic Music has an edge in with fairs, festivals, theatres and community events where it’s desired and wanted. Some other genres have not as many options. Two of our favourite gigs are The Milwaukee Irish Fest, which has so much energy, and our Christmas Tour across Ontario. And this year we will be at Showplace here in Peterborough on November 22nd”.

The Leahy’s are a talented family spanning many generations.

Thank you Doug, Jennifer, Adele, Gregory, Angus, Cecilia, Joseph and Evelyn for taking the time to speak with me. It’s been a pleasure. www.thenextgenerationleahy.com