In-flight entertainment goes unpredictably viral


McKenna Clann on stage.

“It was so silly,” a beaming Mary McKenna said of how a video of her children playing traditional music on an Aer Lingus plane on the runway at JFK in early March went viral.

More than a million people watched the impromptu seisiún by several siblings from traditional group McKenna Clann before the Twitter post about it was taken down a few days ago.

Mary, clearly amused by the storm in an Irish coffee cup, explained how it all started.

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“We had just landed at JFK and they [the musicians] were downing their instruments when we were told there would be a 15 minute delay.

“Some of the passengers, seeing the instruments, started asking, ‘Are you going to play for St. Patrick’s Day?’ and ‘Will you play us a tune?’

“And they did it because they’re kids.”

It started with Sinead (23), on violin, and Daniel (26), on accordion. They were then joined by Eugene (27), on tin whistle.

He is the eldest of seven siblings in the playing and singing Clann, which added three guest musicians for its recent New York shows: Lauren O’Neill, Mickey Fearon and Sorcha Stockman.

The Clann played multiple venues in New York, including at the Irish Mission to the UN – from where Tánaiste Micheál Martin also tweeted, albeit less controversially.

The man who posted the Aer Lingus video that went viral received some criticism online for his unenthusiastic take on this impromptu performance. “I understand it’s done from a good place, but I also feel like you’re not playing music (or much worse, singing) in an enclosed space with no escape,” the March 12 tweet read.

The tweeter, in a triple irony, was called Singer, a pro at “out-of-home advertising,” and it wasn’t even on the flight.

Adam Singer, vice president of Los Angeles-based AdQuick, confirmed to the Echo that he found the video on the website Reddit, posted it on Twitter and was later instructed to take it down due to a complaint.

The source of the complaint is unknown, but Singer said: “It seems … after it went viral, the original poster sold it [the video] to one of those sites that put up viral content that decided to take it down everywhere else.

The McKennas certainly weren’t complaining, Eugene confirmed. “”didn’t even know the video was taken down! We have no problem with good publicity!”

A great advertisement for the McKennas, the video garnered 1.3 million views as it spread from Singer’s 81,000 Twitter followers to others online, then to media on both sides of the pond.

And online, what happened was distorted with some commentators suggesting the McKenna’s had played all the way across the Atlantic.

Eugene said: “Unfortunately for all the haters online…we only played for three minutes when the passengers were waiting to leave the plane lol!”

Even without Singer’s profile boost, Clann was making waves. NBC premiered another video of them making music during their exclusive coverage of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City.

Clip recorded by TG4/Power Pictures at Fleadh Cheoil na Hairean in Mullingar, August 2022. This segment can (still) be seen on YouTube,

This was seen by, among others, Catherine Flood, McKenna’s proud aunt.

At the parade, she said: “We were all in Sean’s [restaurant in Midtown Manhattan] when it turned on and the place exploded.”

Fladd, who was the sister of Mary McKenna (née Fladd) and a well-known figure in the Irish community in New York.

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