Gradam Ceoil TG4 : 16 Years, 79 awards and Young Musicians making their mark

Between now and 12th April we will be featuring a number of articles that celebrate The Gradam Ceoil TG4 Awards.  They are Ireland's traditional Oscars and arguably the highlight of the traditional music year.  There won't be the red carpet shenanigans that go with all things Hollywood.  Much grander than that, there will be a gathering of our best musicians for a night that will live long in the memory.  The presentation ceremony takes place on 12th April in University of Limerick and will be broadcast on TG4 on 20th April which is Easter Sunday night.  It promises a fantastic line up that will feature not only this year’s recipients but also a wealth of additional talent making an appearance on the night.

Gradam Ceoil TG4 came into being in 1998 and since then it has handed out 79 awards. The categories include Musician of the Year, Young Musician, Composer, Singer, Lifetime Achievements and Special Awards.  In truth 79 awards does not seem that many considering the wealth of talent that exists both at home and around the world. Gradam is the only award ceremony of its kind in this country.  It is indeed fitting that due recognition is given to a music and tradition that is so embedded in our very cultural and social fabric.  From the local school hall to the grandest stages of the world, Ireland's traditional musicians make their mark.  In an upcoming interview with Harry Bradley (Musician of the Year for 2014) we asked if this recognition is well received.  Harry openly acknowledges its contribution “I think the Gradam ceremony covers it pretty well” he says.   “It’s a very positive development. I suspect the vast majority of ITM practitioners don't need recognition as the real reward is in playing and enjoying the music. It's great to get a bit of recognition, but we'd likely just keep on doing what we do anyway because it's good fun and truly great music”.

Each year an independent panel chooses who the awards will go to. Yes we could all name a dozen more musicians who should justifiably receive an award and time will hopefully correct this.  When you look down through the list of past winners you can't help but be impressed with the roll call.  One award that merits a close look is the Young Musician of the Year award.  Looking back over previous recipients you can't help but agree that the judges have chosen well.  In 2013 alone many of them featured with recordings that were simply outstanding.

Let’s start with 2004 winner Edel Fox.  With fiddler Neill Byrne she has just won Tradconnect's Album of the Year for 2013 for their duet album called The Sunny Banks.  It’s an outstanding album that sets the bar very high indeed.  2012 winner Dónal Mc Cague had his Bits 'N' Pieces album on release at the same time of his award.  He is yet again back in the studio guesting on an album of new compositions by brother Michael Mc Cague called "The Waylaid Man" That will be on release very shortly.

2012 winner Caoimhín Ó Fearghail also featured strongly during the last year.  He was on the above mentioned The Sunny Banks album with Edel Fox and Neill Byrne and also released a trio album with Tomas Ó Gealbháin & Seán Ó Fearghail. It’s called La ag Ól Uisce and is also a stellar recording.  Add to this the fact that he was also on Caitlín, our album of the year for 2012 as well.  That was  Caitlín Nic Gabhann's debut solo recording on concertina.


2005 winner Sean McKeon brought us the marvellous To The City album last year which shows him to be one of our finest uilleann pipers. He also released Dublin Made Me with 2002 winner Liam O' Connor a few years back.  Martin Tourish was the winner in 2008 and he is now recognised as one of our finest accordionists and a composer and producer of some note. He has an outstanding album called "Under a Red Sky Night” on release this month.  If you go back a year further you had 2006 winner Michelle Mulcahy releasing her debut harp album called Suaimhneas to critical acclaim.


This all goes to show that the Young Musician recipients have earned their accolade and many are fulfilling the promise that was evident at the time of their award.  2013 saw many of them deliver exceptional music and before long you may see a second award coming their way.  This year’s recipient Bryan Ó Leary will follow in those footsteps and will also be one to watch.


Other recipients this year include Chris Droney - Gradam Saoil (Hall of Fame), Nan Tom Taimín de Búrca - Amhránaí (Singer) and Mick Moloney - Gradam Comaoine TG4 (Special Contribution).  This year a new category has also been created to honour musical collaboration with the award going to The Goodman Project for the recording of an important and innovative CD that has provided a new perspective on a wonderful trove of musical manuscripts that had remained unpublished for more than 130 years. The musicians involved are Mick O’Brien - pipes, Emer Mayock - flute and Aoife Ní Bhriain - fiddle and they bring the tunes in this collection back to life in a vibrant recording that was one of the highlights of last year.

This year’s awards ceremony and Gradam Ceoil TG4 Concert will take place in the UL Concert Hall, Limerick on Saturday, 12th April.   The concert, hosted by Páidí Ó Lionáird and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, will see the 2014 Gradam recipients joined on stage by their special musical guests. It will be recorded for broadcast on TG4 on Easter Sunday, April 20th at 9.30pm and promises a unique, star-studded line-up of musicians and award-presenters alike.  For more information visit


Gradam Ceoil is now available to view worldwide on the TG4 Player. Follow This Link



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