A Lifetime Achievement Award will be awarded to Séamus Connolly, the renowned student and teacher of Irish traditional music in the US. 

One of the greatest living influences on Irish traditional music in the US is to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gradaim Ceoil (music awards) celebrated by Irish TV station TG4.

Séamus Connolly, from Co Clare, first visited the US in 1972, eventually emigrating there in 1976. Since then, he has established himself as one of the most influential students and teachers of Irish traditional music in the US. 

In 2013, Connolly received a National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor that can be awarded to an artist in the US. 

In 2018, he worked with Boston College to create the online collection "The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music."

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"By his mid-twenties, Connolly had won the Irish National Fiddle Championship ten times, a feat unequaled by any other musician, and he traveled throughout Ireland, meeting and playing music with some of the legends of Irish music, such as Paddy O'Brien, Joe Burke, Denis Murphy, and Cathal McConnell," read his bio on winning the National Heritage Fellowship.

"Connolly was also a member of the Kilfenora Céilí Band, an ensemble noted for its strong rhythms, musicality, and rare tunes indigenous to North County Clare.

"In 2013, Connolly was awarded the 2013 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which is given to outstanding American citizens who have distinguished themselves through their significant contributions to the United States. In 2002, he was named Traditional Musician of the Year by The Irish Echo and was also inducted into the CCE Hall of Fame.

"Connolly has performed at numerous festivals throughout the U.S., including the National Folk Festival, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Wolf Trap Irish Folk Festival, and American Roots Fourth of July Celebration at the Washington Monument. He has also represented Irish music on three Masters of the Folk Violin tours organized by the National Council for the Traditional Arts."

Gradam Ceoil TG4 is the premier annual traditional music awards scheme and academy.

This year’s awards will be presented at the Gradam Ceoil TG4 concert in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast on Sunday, February 23, and televised live on TG4 at 9:30 pm. Traditional Irish music lovers can watch free from anywhere in the world on the TG4 player here. 

Women lead the way in this year's Gradam Ceoil TG4 accolades, as 'Musician of the Year,' 'Young Musician of the Year,' and 'Composer of the Year' are awarded to highly-talented female musicians.

Harper Laoise Kelly from Westport, Co. Mayo is announced as TG4's 'Musician of the Year' and is one of the youngest recipients of the main award to date. She is one of Ireland’s most significant harpers of her generation and uses a style of playing combining the techniques of fingerpads in the bass and fingernails in the melody on a thirty-four gut-strung Paddy Cafferky harp.

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Fiddle and Cello player, Sharon Howley, from Kilfenora, Co. Clare has been selected as this year's Young Musician of the Year.  Sharon was immersed in traditional music from a young age with a rich musical lineage; her father sings and plays and both her grandfathers, Micky McCormack and Michael Slattery sang and played music. Her wider relations include the Mulqueeney’s and McCormack’s who played with the older formations of the Kilfenora Ceilí Band.

Lillis Ó Laoire, a two-time winner of the premier sean-nós singing competition Corn Uí Riada in 1991 and again in 1994 is to be awarded the title of Singer of the Year.  

Who is your favorite Irish traditional musician? Let us know in the comments section, below.