Fiddle and Cello player, Sharon Howley, from Kilfenora, Co. Clare has been selected as this year’s Young Musician of the Year while Josephine Marsh and Séamus Connolly have also been recognised.
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. Jarlath Burns, former Armagh player, presented Sharon with her award. Sharon was joined on stage by the Kilfenora Céilí Band.
Séamus Connolly received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Séamus is a fiddle player, teacher, author, composer, recording musician and event organiser from Killaloe, Co. Clare and has spent most of his life in the US, living in Massachusetts and working at Boston College. The most significant project of his career however, is The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music, an online, digitised collection of over three hundred tunes, compiled by Connolly, and performed by a selection of other traditional musicians as well as himself.
Born in Killaloe in 1994, Connolly grew up in a musical family. In 1976, Connolly emigrated to Massachusetts in the US, where he still lives. He began working with Boston College in 1990, where he established Irish music, song and dance programs at the university’s Irish Studies Program. Actor Adrian Dunbar presented Séamus with his award in the Waterfront Hall last night. Séamus was joined on stage by musicians Gráinne Murphy, Jimmy Noonan, Geraldine Cotter, Jerry O’Sullivan and Maura O’Keefe.
Composer of the Year went to Josephine Marsh. Multi-instrumentalist and composer Josephine Marsh primarily works as a full-time musician and teacher, playing the accordion as her main instrument and also the fiddle, concertina, whistle, mandolin, guitar and banjo. She has recorded several albums to date and has had her compositions recorded by various artists including Mick McGoldrick and John McSherry, Padraig Rynne, Liadain and The London Lassies.
Born in London to Irish parents, Marsh now lives in West Clare. Her father Paddy played concertina and accordion and was her earliest musical influence. When she first became interested in the accordion at age seven, she was encouraged in primary school by her principal Niall O’ Donnell and started taking lessons at age ten. She started playing with a local music group and entered the Fleadh Ceoil and the Oireachtas, as well as Gael Linn youth festival Slogadh.
Lillis Ó Laoire, 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. Josephine was presented he award by singer Eddi Reader. joining Josephine on stage to perform were Elaine Hogan, Pat Marsh, Mick Kinsella, Declan Corey, Andrew Kinsella and Tommy Carew.
Images from last night’s gala award ceremony are available to download here
You can view the programme on the TG4 player.