Gradam Ceoil TG4 Line-up announced + New Videos of Harry Bradley, Bryan O' Leary etc

TG4 have just announced the line-up for Gradam Ceoil TG4 Awards 2014 and it looks likely to be one of the best award ceremonies in recent years.  It takes place on 12th April this year in University Concert Hall, Limerick.  Over the last few weeks we have been talking to many of the recipients and we have already posted interviews with Harry Bradley and Bryan O' Leary.  We also plan to talk to Mick O’ Brien and Mick Maloney over the coming weeks.   Mick O’ Brien won a new collaborative award for his Tunes from the Goodman Collection album with Emer Mayock and Aoife Ní Bhriain, and Mick Maloney won a special award for his contribution to traditional Irish music over the years.  According to TG4 “This year’s line-up is really special and includes an attractive range of instrumentation, musical styles and groupings arranged by the recipients themselves”.

Mick Maloney will thankfully be making the trip back to Ireland for the awards.  When we spoke to him he confirmed that he will be doing one song on the night as well as a set of tunes associated with the great Joe Cooley.  With regards to the song he confirmed that it will have a “theme of emigration and adventure and is connected to Philadelphia where I arrived 41 years ago.  I will be accompanied by Louise and Michelle Mulcahy on concertina and flute. This is a lovely musical combo along with the octave mandolin which I will be playing. Then we will play a set of tunes associated with the memory of Joe Cooley who lived at various times in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco. His music was wild and beautiful and he left a wonderful musical legacy creating a whole new Irish music scene on the West Coast of the United States. Mick Mulcahy will also join us for this set”.

Musician of the year Harry Bradley will be convening some players from the “flute heavy sessions” within which he developed his own style many years ago in Belfast.  He said to us recently that he wants to “recreate the sound that I cut my teeth in.  TG4 asked me who I wanted to play with and I gave them two options. I said it might be nice to do a Belfast flute thing, which would be unusual.  He also suggested a reunion of The Tap Room Trio featuring John Blake and Jesse Smith with the addition of Colm Gannon on accordion.  Harry recorded an album under the name The Tap Room trio in 2003.  Busy schedules have prevented them from touring together so this could be the start of something special all over again.  Harry’s flute set will feature Tara Bingham, Davy Maguire, Brendan O’ Hare, Michael Clarkson and Séamus O’ Kane.  TG4 confirmed that “Harry Bradley is the first recipient of Gradam Ceoil from Belfast and the youngest recipient since the inception of the awards in 1998.”



Nan Tom Taimín de Búrca is still in shock following her nomination.  She could not believe that Gradam Ceoil had come knocking on her door. “I was shocked” she said to us when we spoke by phone. “I just didn’t believe it at all.  I was in the recording studio when TG4 called me and believe it or not I actually thought it was somebody playing a practical joke on me. Things like that don’t happen to me. I didn’t really believe it until the letter came through the door. I would never have thought that I was worthy of it.  At this moment in time I haven’t really thought about what I’m going to sing. I have been very busy getting my new album finished so I just haven’t had time to think about it too much.  I just want to go there and enjoy the occasion and meet up with the other recipients. I’m especially looking forward to meeting up with Chris Droney again because he’s a laugh a minute. He’s a wonderful guy. He’s almost 90 years of age and my God he is so full of life and a funny guy to be around. I only met him for the first time when we were in Dublin and he had me in stitches. I’m looking forward to meeting up with all of them and just enjoying a few drinks and relaxing. All my kids will be with me and a few other family members as well”  Nan has just launched her new album The Whispering Wind and she will no doubt pick something appropriate from that.


Chris Droney will receive a lifetime achievement on the night which must be the most fitting presentation considering his long life in music. Born in 1924 he has pretty much seen it all over the years.  He was founder of the Bell Harbour Céilí band as far back as the 1940’s and played in many more over the years including The Kilfenora, Old Aughrim Slopes and others.  For this award he will surround himself with family and friends.  He will be joined by Ann-Kirrane Droney, Francis Droney, Garry O’ Briain, Áine McGrath and Antóin Mac Gabhann.


The choice of accompanists for Bryan O’ Leary was difficult and in the end he left it up to TG4 to decide. Bryan confirmed in our recent interview that he will do a set with Gearóid Ó Duinnín who will provide guitar accompaniment.  He will also perform a second set with Gearóid and flute player Colm Guilfoyle.  Choosing who to play with was a very tough decision.  “To be very honest I have played with a lot of people over the years and I could have had any of them up there with me.  When asked by TG4, I was in a major dilemma because I couldn’t decide between them.  In an ideal world I’d have them all up on stage with me.  In the end I gave TG4 a long list of people and let them decide which would work best on the night, and they decided on Gearóid and Colm. There’s no practise done as yet. It could just be done on the night” he jokes. “We could turn to each other on the night and ask, what will we play? I’ll be thinking about the tune types but it’s very hard to pick out the exact ones just yet.  I often fancy certain tunes at one point and then go off them for a bit.  It all depends come April which tunes appeal the most.  I’ll sit down the week before with Colm and Gearóid and work it out”. TG4 executive Proinsias Ní Ghrainne is likewise positive about the Young Musician category. Hearing the recipient of the Young Musician award play solo is always one of the most anticipated moments at these annual concerts both for the audience present on the night and for those watching later on TV,” she said.  “With such excellence now attained by young players, people are curious as to why this person is considered ‘the best’.  Hearing Bryan O’Leary play, I have no doubt that audiences will yet again be blown away by the Ceoltóir Óg this year.”


For Mick O’ Brien, Emer Mayock and Aoife O’ Brien the choice of material will be a little easier.  Their award related to a new area called collaboration for their outstanding album, Tunes from the Goodman Collection so they will have plenty of material to choose from.  Mick O’ Brien said he is looking forward to what he considers the highlight of the year. Despite his best intentions to get home at a reasonable hour, the presence of his own collaborators and the likes of Harry, Bryan and the other recipients will make it difficult.

The surprise guests on the night will be Cherish The Ladies all the way from the States.  This really brings a new dimension to proceedings with Joanie Madden the accomplished ringmaster.  We saw her perform with PONY last year at the Temple Bar Trad Fest in Dublin and her on stage banter with fellow musicians made the night.  She is looking forward to it as well.  Joanie confirmed that the whole band is coming over and that they will also have Nollaig Casey performing with them which is a real treat.  Mick Moloney has also asked the ladies to perform with him on stage.  He was after all the person responsible for starting the group back in the early eighties. Back in 1983 following multiple All Ireland wins for Joanie, Eileen Ivers and others Mick arranged a series of concerts in New York to celebrate their achievement.  He asked Joanie what they should call themselves and she said Cherish the Ladies.  They have been performing ever since.


This year’s awards ceremony and Gradam Ceoil TG4 Concert will take place in the University 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. Sibéal Teo have produced the show and it will be recorded for broadcast by TG4 on Easter Sunday, April 20th at 9.30pm with Niamh Ni Bhaoill in the producer seat.  They promise 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




The full line up for the night is detailed below.


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