Gradam Ceoil TG4: Honouring Ireland’s Traditional Music
FOR 17 years, TG4 has stood alone in giving due recognition to home-grown talent who consistently make an outstanding contribution to the art of Irish traditional music, song and dance.
On a yearly basis, TG4 awards recipients in the following categories:
- Gradam Ceoil TG4 (Musician of the year)
- Ceoltóir Óg TG4 (Young musician of the Year)
- Amhránaí TG4 (Singer of the year)
- Gradam Saoil TG4 (Lifetime achievement)
- Gradam an Chumadóra TG4 (Composor’s award)
- Gradam Comharcheol TG4 (Musical collaboration)
- Gradam Comaoine TG4 (Oustanding Contribution to Traditional Music and Song)
The Gradam Ceoil TG4 is a welcome embellishment to a tradition which tends to fall under the radar of Ireland’s national broadcaster, with the exception of RTÉ Raidio na Gaeltachta. Previous winners include Seán Potts, Michael Tubridy, Liam O’Flynn, Noel Hill, Seán Keane, Charlie Lennon, Peadar Ó Riada, Seán McKeon, Liam O’Connor, Frank Harte and Nan Tom Teaimín –among many others.
This year sees particular recognition for accordion players, with two of the scene’s most established players awarded. Bobby Gardiner – who has performed alongside the likes of Killoran, Cooley and Reevey (music royalty) – picks up the lifetime achievement award, while Máirtín O’Connor, whose career took flight as a member of the acclaimed De Dannan, has been selected as the 2015 Musician of the Year. The intricacies of his compositions and musical delivery would suggest the limits of his fingers know no bounds.
Year in year out, the plethoric well of outstanding musicians and organisations dedicated to traditional music never dries up. Last year saw recognition for Na Píobairí Uileann (NPU), established in 1968 when the survival of Ireland’s national instrument was at grave risk. From their Henrietta Street base, NPU strives to ‘perpetuate the spirit of the music, in particular the playing of the pipes and the production and maintenance of the instrument itself.’ In doing so, the society has overseen the development and prosperity of the playing and making of uilleann pipes, while also being progressive in their approach to the cultivating of Irish music on a whole.
This year sees an accolade for The Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA), based in Merrion Square Dublin 2, whose team has worked tirelessly to ensure the preservation and distribution of music, song and dance. With the largest collection of multimedia sources, offering a comprehensive scope for those with an appreciation for the study of traditional music, ITMA has ensured its legacy for generations to come.
2015 sees a timely award for Young Musician of the Year, Maitiú Ó Casaide, who hails from an musical upbringing which achieved internationally acclaimed. Intrigued by the sound and appearance of of his uncle Odhrán’s pipes, Maitiú set his heart on learning the instrument at the age of 10. He started attending classes at Na Píobairí Uilleann where he had numerous teachers over the years including Joe Doyle, Nollaig Mac Cárthaigh, Leo Rickard, Tommy Martin, Harry Bradley and Seán Potts and later with Conor Mckeon, where he now teaches weekly. Like the generation before him, Ó Casaide has invigoratingly endowed traditional music in recent years with his band, The Bonnymen, who will launch their second album ‘Boyne Road‘ this month.
While the musicians and organisations selected continually push the boundaries of our musical heritage, the TG4 music awards have come in for some criticism in traditional music circles for what occasionally appears to be further recognition for established members of the traditional musical dynasties, while comparably gifted musicians and singers go unnoticed at times.
Nevertheless, TG4’s awards have been unique in celebrating major figures who have strived beyond music competition settings, recognising them for their deep-rooted esteem for a rich tradition passed on from previous generations, coupled with their astounding modesty.
GRADAM CEOIL TG4 2015: THE WINNERS
Traditional Musician of the Year: Máirtín Ó Connor
Gradam Comaoine TG4 (Outstanding Contribution to Traditional Music and Song): Irish Traditional Music Archive
Gradam Comharcheol TG4 (Musical collaboration): Ensemble Ériú
Ceoltóir Óg TG4 (Young Traditional Musician of the Year): Maitiú Ó Casaide
Gradam Saoil TG4 (Hall of Fame): Bobby Gardiner
Amhránaí TG4 (Traditional Singer of the Year): Róisín White
The 2015 Gradam Ceoil TG4 awards will be presented by Daithí Ó Sé and Aoife Ní Thuairisg in the Cork Opera House on February 22 and will be broadcast live on TG4 at 9.30pm.
Photos c/o alanplacephotography.photoshelter.com,