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2018 Awards

Singer of the Year

One of the sweetest voices in Irish music, this Cork woman inherited her love of singing from her family roots in Cill na Martra in the Múscraí  Gaeltacht. Equally respected as a singer and teacher, she has been teaching sean-nós singing in her native area for many years in the Aisling Gheal scheme.

Máire Ní Chéileachair

Citation

One of the sweetest voices in Irish music, this Cork woman inherited her love of singing from her family roots in Cill na Martra in the Múscraí  Gaeltacht. Equally respected as a singer and teacher, she has been teaching sean-nós singing in her native area for many years in the Aisling Gheal scheme.

She has won many prizes at the Fleadh Cheoil and Oireachtas na Gaeilge competitions, and is a regular participant at singing festivals at home and abroad.

A selection of her songs, in Irish and English, is available on a CD called Guth ar Fán.

Her singing is sweet and serene and the Gradam Ceoil Amhránaí na Bliana deservedly goes to Máire Ní Chéilleachair

 

Biog

Máire Ní Chéileachair was brought up in Farran, Co. Cork and her parents came from Cill na Martra in the Múscraí Gaeltacht area which is renowned for the strength and richness of its living traditions in Irish song, music and language. Although traditional singing wasn’t a big part of Máire’s upbringing at home, she grew up in an environment that respected and encouraged an interest in traditional culture.

As a teenager, she developed a strong interest in all aspects of traditional music and before long she was captivated by the beauty and emotional power of sean-nós singing and she took every opportunity to listen to sean-nós at social gatherings, festivals and concerts.

She spent the next twenty five years listening avidly to different singers and exploring the repertory of traditional song and, amazingly, she was forty years of age when she first sang in public. She places great emphasis on the ability to listen and pay attention to the song and how it is being sung, and speaking of her own journey towards sean-nós singing she says: “I think that the long listening apprenticeship helped to develop my style. Once I was bitten by the bug I haven’t stopped and have had the most interesting, fulfilling years of song and friendship.”

Within the community of traditional singers, Máire is held in the highest regard and affection for the quality of her artistry as a singer and also for her commitment as a carrier of the tradition and as a teacher who shares not just the songs, but the entire culture and way of thinking that goes with them.

Her professional background is education and for many years she was a school teacher. Bringing these skills to traditional singing, her  work as a teacher and advocate for sean-nós song has made an impact on the Múscraí Gaeltacht since 2001 when she began a project as singer-in-residence there.  Since then, Máire has worked with the local community, and particularly with children, to pass on the delight, wonder and enjoyment that are at the heart of this artform: “I am passionately interested in sean-nós and find it very rewarding to see young people developing a love for it and making it part of their lives. It still surprises me that these teenagers, who have many things to attract their attention, are interested in this ancient style of unaccompanied singing in Irish.”

Through her long-term music education project Aisling Gheal, and the 2013 documentary film of the same name directed by Dónal Ó Ceileachair, Máire continues to make a lasting contribution to sustaining the song tradition in Múscraí and further afield.

Máire takes part regularly in Oireachtas na Gaeilge where she has won Comórtas na mBan and she is a frequent performer at festivals around Ireland and overseas where she has brought sean-nós singing to audiences in England, Germany, France, Canada and the United States.

A selection of her songs, in Irish and English, is available on a CD called Guth ar Fán.

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