Talkin' Trad : Caitlín Nic Gabhann on 2013 and her Album of the Year

With the Autumn upon us it will soon be time to carry out our end of year poll to find the public’s favourite record of the year for 2013.  While it has been an astounding year once again for albums it is worth reflecting on our poll from 2012 and its winner Caitlín Nic Gabhann.  Her debut simply called Caitlín won the approval of our adjudicators.  We like to think of our Album of the Year as the true people’s choice, selected by a panel of adjudicators who play, listen to and buy a lot of music.  They represent the ordinary man or woman on the street and do not have any connections with the industry other that their love of the music.

We have written and covered Caitlín's progress over the year and caught up with her recently to see how the year has been for her. “2013 has been busy” she tells us.  “I just finished up in college (wahey!) and I'm now working as a full-time musician which is  challenging but fulfilling, and good fun.  I'm also involved in some group music projects, as well as my own solo work, and I'm working in a show as well. It's a play with music, song, dance, and comedy. The other people involved are renowned musicians Conal O Grada, Benny McCarthy, Colm Murphy, Ciaran O Maonaigh, master puppeteer Des Dillon and comedian Jon Kenny. It's great fun! It's called 'Mag Mell' and we'll be touring theatres around the country after Christmas.” You can check it out at their website

The positive response to her debut album was everywhere and anyone that we spoke to who had heard it were very impressed.  In our review we wrote that Caitlín was “raised in a house full of music in County Meath and learned most of her music from her father and fiddle player Antóin Mac Gabhann. Influence beyond the walls of her own home came via the playing of Micheál Ó Raghallaigh, Catherine McEvoy and others, as she developed a style and talent all her own.”  This all fed into her music with the end product being this debut solo recording.  We ask her was she and her family and friends surprised by the positive response.

“I'm absolutely delighted with the response! With your first solo album, it's nerve-wracking! You don't know how it's going to be received but I had a lot of help - Caoimhin Ó Fearghail and Jack Talty who were my absolute rocks in the studio and my dad who helped every bit of the way. I'm delighted for him, and my Mam, When people tell them that they're enjoying the cd.  It's a great buzz for us all.  And a relief!”


With the crazy summer months behind us we got to talking about what the quieter winter months hold for her and whether thoughts have turned to a new recording.  Will it be another solo effort or would a duet/group project be considered?  She explains that for the next 6 months she is  hoping to spend as much time as possible working on new material - composing and choreographing steps, with the aim of having new, fresh material to tour next year. “I'll be looking at broadening the sound” she says. “Bringing in some other musicians and seeing what sounds we can create. I'll also be working in the play (Mag Mell) in theatres around Ireland.  I can't wait for that!”

And on the subject of a new recording.  “I don't think I'm ready to start thinking about another CD! I'm not over the last one yet!! I want to put as much energy into the next album as I did with 'Caitlín', and I'd be fairly pernickety about what I'd put onto an album.  After all, it'll be around forever! Whatever the next CD will be, the process will begin with a good few months considering the type of sound we want to create. Maybe that's too careful, but I'd be afraid of bringing out a CD every year, and then regretting or cringing at them ten years down the line. Saying that, I can't wait to get working on something new!”

"I'll be looking at broadening the sound.  Bringing in some other musicians and seeing what sounds we can create."

To assist other musicians reading this we like to ask artists about the best way to promote an album.  Experience is everything and there is nothing like having been through the marketing and promotion process to give advise.  Caitlín states that “Radio airplay is a great way to get your music heard by a general audience. Local radio stations are a fantastic support. They reach a lot more people than I thought! We spend so much time online these days but it's easy to forget that there are a lot of people who don't use online media/social networking, so radio is good for that. Facebook, YouTube, Soundcloud are useful also.”

We have started a new series of articles on Tradconnect called Trad Inspiration.  We are simply asking artists to create a playlist on Spotify of artists that have inspired them in the past, or even today.  We can’t help but wonder what Caitlín’s 3 desert Island discs would be.  “That's easy” she says. Noel Hill & Tony McMahon - I gCnoc na gCroi, Conal O Grada - The Top of Coom and anything by Joe Cooley.

We give the winner of our Album of the Year a place on our home page and to date "Caitlín" has generated close to 2,000 views.  You can listen to some samples and purchase the album on

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Comment by Paul on November 7, 2013 at 17:23
Nice playing. I found it odd that there was no mention of
Caitlin's tenure with her mates in Nicgaveskey .
Shes a fine musician and I look forward to hearing more from her in future.

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