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2017 Awards

Lifetime Achievement Award

Face any direction in Irish traditional music and you will probably see or hear this multi-talented musician. He has been a consistent presence at the forefront of excellence and change in Irish traditional music for almost fifty years. His music, bands, record label, partnerships, compositions and collaborations combine to map pivotal points on the modern journey of our music.

Dónal Lunny

Citation

Face any direction in Irish traditional music and you will probably see or hear this multi-talented musician. He has been a consistent presence at the forefront of excellence and change in Irish traditional music for almost fifty years. His music, bands, record label, partnerships, compositions and collaborations combine to map pivotal points on the modern journey of our music.
 

His creative work spans generations and genres; from Planxty and The Bothy Band, through Moving Hearts and Coolfin, to Mozaik and projects with leading figures in pop and rock. He has expanded instrumentation, redefined accompaniment and left his mark on rhythm in traditional music, most noticeably in his use of the bouzouki, percussion and synthesizers. He has given a unique voice to our songs.
 

He is tireless in his encouragement of new talent generally, but notably through his work in production and arrangement, and through his teaching and residency at the University of Limerick. His discography is a long and varied list that incorporates some of the most influential records in our tradition, classic duos, and visionary recording, production, arrangement and composition credits.
 

He is a committed and generous artist, curious and open in his adoption of new technologies. He has for many years been an ambassador for Irish traditional music worldwide, and is still travelling.
 

The Gradam Saoil, Lifetime Achievement Award for 2017 goes to DÓNAL LUNNY.
 

Biog

Dónal Lunny was born in Tullamore, Co. Offaly in 1947. His roots are of Ulster stock on both sides. His father Frank Lunny was an Enniskillen man and his mother Mary Rogers from Rann na Feirste in the north-west Donegal Gaeltacht.
 

From early childhood he was captivated by music, singing and by the Irish language cultural heritage of his mother’s native area. That Ulster “take” on life is very much reflect in his long and varied musical career which has seen him rise to the very top of his profession as an innovative musician, arranger, composer and producer.
 

Such is his output and ground-breaking work in every decade of his career that it is difficult to grasp that all this output and range is the work of an individual. His influence over the development of Irish traditional music over the past fifty years cannot be over-stated and his role at the very cutting edge over such a long period of time is breath-taking.
 

His fresh approach to accompaniment, his work in bringing the bouzouki to the fore as a key component of the traditional family and his championing of new rhythms and the pioneering use of percussion from other traditions is but one achievement of many for this prodigious polymath.
 

The list of groups he has formed and led is extraordinary in its quality and duration – Emmet Spiceland, Planxty, Bothy Band, Moving Hearts, Coolfin and Mozaik. His musical collaborations with the very top layer of the music Liam O’Flynn, Paddy Glackin, Andy Irvine, Zoe Conway, and Máirtín O’Connor only adds to his status and the range of his musical partners outside the tradition is also enviable in its breadth and quality – Elvis Costello, Baaba Maal, Sinéad O’Connor and many more.
 

It is hardly surprising that he is in such demand across the full range of his talents as a performer, arranger, composer and producer. He continues to be inquisitive about music of all kinds and is to be found working with young musicians of all backgrounds. His most recent forum has been as Artist in Residence at the University of Limerick and this has added to his ability to enquire and explore with the young generation of music makers and students as he teaches and learns.
 

He is a generous and committed musician and an eloquent advocate for the music and its role in modern Ireland. He is much travelled and respected, nowhere more so than at home.
 

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