ON TG4, Ireland’s Irish language television station, the annual Gradam Cheoil Awards will be shown on Easter Sunday at 9:30 p.m. Irish time (4:30 p.m. EST). Taped April 2 at a live presentation concert at the Wexford Opera House, the prestigious awards were given out to six standout contributors in various categories in the world of Irish traditional music.
The top award of Musician of the Year goes to the Clare concertina maestro Noel Hill, the first concertina player to be so recognized in this category and richly deserved. The honor comes just a couple of years after a savage and brutal attack in Connemara where he makes his home that left him severely injured and in need of major surgery and therapy.
The Young Musician of the Year is piper Padraic Keane, the son of piper Tommy Keane and Jacqueline McCarthy with trad music running through his veins. A Lifetime Achievement Award went to Ben Lennon, the Leitrim fiddler and brother of Charlie Lennon and father of Maurice Lennon. The Singer of the Year was Muireann nic Amhlaoibh, who was over eight months pregnant at the time the award was bestowed in Wexford but is now a new mother.
Micheal O’Suilleabhain, the mastermind behind the Irish World Music Academy at the University of Limerick, received the designated Musician’s Award for his massive contributions towards Irish music on many levels.
Of great interest to Americans though is the granting of the first TG4 Gradam Cheoil award to a Yank, and it was in the field of composition to Chicago fiddler Liz Carroll, who released her book of personal compositions last year entitled Liz Carroll-Collected. Not only is it great honor for Carroll, but it shows how much respect American contributions to Irish music have won. Carroll’s tunes are played around the world.
You can watch the show live at www.tg4.ie, or catch up to it on archive starting on Monday, April 25.