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Limerick accordion player Derek Hickey to be awarded highest accolade in Traditional Irish Music

Recipients of the seven Gradam Ceoil TG4 2024 awards announced today


Pic: Derek Hickey
This year’s outstanding awardees were announced during a special lunchtime concert at the University of Limerick’s Irish World Academy.
Gradam Ceoil TG4, now in its 27th year continues to recognise and celebrate the absolute best in performance and cultural impact in seven categories.
The announcement of the annual awards is an important moment in the traditional music calendar not just to recognise the achievements of the seven awardees but also to celebrate the outstanding talent that our country has to offer. The awardees reflect the outstanding vibrancy, diversity and huge work being done to ensure that our tradition continues to evolve with such flair and will be handed down in the best of health!

(Full biographies below)




GRADAM SAOIL TG4 2024 / Lifetime Achievement – JEAN BUTLER

CUMADÓIR TG4 2024 / Composer – RYAN MOLLOY


GRADAM COMAOINE TG4 2024 / Outstanding Contribution – CAIRDEAS NA bhFIDILÉIRÍ

Established in 1998, Gradam Ceoil TG4 recognises not just the artistry of awardees but also strives to amplify the success of the recipients and make their music, song and dance available to global audiences through broadcasts on TG4’s platforms. The selection process for Gradam Ceoil TG4 recipients is undertaken by an independent panel, some of whom are past awardees and all of whom play or work within the tradition.

TG4 Commissioning Editor, Proinsias Ní Ghráinne, says, “ TG4 is delighted to be afforded this opportunity to recognise these stars that shine bright within our tradition. Gradam is a token of gratitude from us to the many performances who grace our traditional music programs week in, week out. We are delighted that we can help bring their music to global audiences through the live broadcast of Gradam Ceoil 2024 on TG4’s broadcast platforms. Comhghairdeas leis na faighteoirí uilig.”

This year’s Gradam Ceoil TG4 concert takes place at The University Concert Hall in Limerick on Sunday May 5th. Broadcast live on TG4 and across the globe on the TG4 player, recipients will be joined by an array of musical guests and award presenters for a night of vibrant music, fun and entertainment.
The Gala concert and award ceremony will broadcast live on TG4 and from UCH on May 5th @ 9:30pm.
Tickets available at


Derek Hickey is from Adare in County Limerick. Both his grandfathers played fiddle and his own musical career began at the age of ten, when his uncle left an accordion in the family home. Derek progressed to dance tunes within weeks though he didn’t begin lessons – under the tutelage of Dónal de Barra – until he was 12. His professional career began three years later when he joined the Shannonside Céilí Band, founded by the Liddy family. The band toured extensively in England and throughout Europe.

In 1991 Frankie Gavin asked Derek to join him for regular sessions in his then leased hotel in Kinvara, Co. Galway. One year later, at just eighteen, Derek joined Arcady, Johnny ‘Ringo’ McDonagh’s band, along with Frances Black, Brendan Larrisey and Patsy Broderick. Other guest members of this band included Sharon Shannon, Cathal Hayden and Gerry O’Connor.

In 1995 he joined De Dannan, recording two albums and touring until they disbanded in 2003. Derek is the button accordion tutor on the BA Irish Music and Dance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick. In 2023 he performed at the National Concert Hall Dublin, as part of the third series of the Irish Traditional Music Archive’s ‘Drawing from the Well’ series. Widely acknowledged as one of Ireland’s most prominent and influential master accordion players, his eponymous 2022 album was deemed by fellow box player Dermot Byrne as “a recording of a pure genius”.

Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin is a Dublin-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. His musical roots are in sean-nós singing, in the style of his father Peadar and he grew up listening to the likes of Sorcha Ní Ghuairim, Seán Mac Dhonncha, Colm Ó Caoidheáin amongst other greats from the tradition. He is also influenced by folk singers from the English language tradition such as Liam Weldon, Luke Kelly, Anne Briggs, Margaret Barry and Thomas McCarthy.

Eoghan is a member of the band Skipper’s Alley. He has worked with Mary Ann Kennedy from Scotland and Ruth Keggin from the Isle of Man on their Aon Teanga: Un Chengey album (2015). He has performed with folk/electronica band Jiggy, featuring on both their albums, Translate (2017) and Hypernova (2020). He also collaborates with Clare fiddle and viola player Ultan O’Brien, their debut album Solas an Lae won best album at the RTÉ Folk Awards in 2021.
In recent years, Eoghan has come into his own as a solo artist and songwriter. His songs – written in both English and Irish – build on his sean-nós singing foundations but combine hard-hitting lyrics with other musical influences to create a rich, contemporary sound. His debut solo album, ‘The Deepest Breath’ was released in November 2022, receiving four star reviews from The Irish Times, Songlines and Hot Press.
“(Eoghan has) a creative streak on par with some of this country’s greatest ever songwriters. The lyrics of The Deepest Breath are proof and testament to that. Incredibly powerful words which not unlike the great Liam Weldon are words that belong to and represent the working people…” – Myles O’Reilly
“…once you hear his voice, you’re unlikely to forget it” – Folk Radio UK

Macdara Ó Faoláin is a multi-instrumentalist and instrument maker from An Rinn, County Waterford. He started learning tin whistle and the fiddle at the age of 5 but discovering the music of Andy Irvine and Planxty and being mesmerised by it, he progressed on to the mandolin, under the instruction of Peter O’Connor. He received a bouzouki for Christmas when he was 8 and it quickly took over as his main instrument, receiving lessons from Seán Ó Fearghail. He has recorded and performed with some of the best-known names in Irish traditional music, including Derek Hickey, The Friel Sisters, Nell Ní Chróinín, Cormac McCarthy, Victoria Adiiye and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh. His intimate knowledge of harmony and instrumental technique come together to create his own unique style of accompaniment on the bouzouki.

Twin-tracking with his playing and performing, he developed a keen interest in woodwork at a very early age, after receiving a children’s woodwork set from his parents. Aged 14, he made his first instrument – a ukulele – as part of a Junior Certificate programme.
He is now a professional luthier, building beautiful, fretted instruments – primarily bouzoukis and mandolins – for clients internationally from his studio at An Sean Phobal, close to the family home at An Rinn. He is a founding member of the group Nuadán, along with his brothers Cárthach and Pax, with whom he has recorded two albums, “Lá Laindí Lugha” and “Dén Díobháil”. He continues to have a busy performing career and recently completed an honours degree in the Cork School of Music.

Dancer, choreographer and Our Steps Artistic Director Jean Butler is a leading figure in the world of contemporary Irish dance performance. Her most recent production, a site -specific promenade piece entitled ‘What We Hold’ premiered at the Dublin Theatre Festival in October 2022 NY to critical acclaim. In February 2024, ‘What We Hold’ had its North American premiere at Irish Arts Center with a sellout run of 30 shows. Past works have been supported and presented by The Arts Council (Ireland), Abbey Theatre (Dublin), Baryshnikov Arts Center (N.Y.), Danspace Project (N.Y.), Dublin Dance Festival, Dublin Theatre Festival, Irish Arts Center (N.Y.), Jacobs Pillow (MA), The Joyce (N.Y.), Kennedy Center (D.C.), Project Arts Centre (Dublin), and Seamus Heaney Homeplace (Northern Ireland).

In 2018 Butler founded Our Steps, a not- for-profit organization committed to expanding the way we think about history, practice, and performance of Irish dance. Partnering with the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library, ‘Our Steps initiated Our Steps, Our Story: An Irish Dance Legacy Archive.’ To date, this ever -expanding archive has created over 200 hours of video and audio resources of never before documented solo set dances and oral history interviews spanning seven decades of history from Ireland, England, Scotland, the United States and Canada.

Butler has taught at Princeton University, University College Dublin, University of Notre Dame Global Center, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick and Glucksman Ireland House, NYU. Her performance career started in NY with Mick Moloney’s Greenfields of American. Butler went on tour with the Chieftains for six years before choreographing and starring in the original Irish dance productions, Riverdance and Dancing on Dangerous Ground. She is the recipient of many prestigious awards and honours.

Jean is the proud daughter of Josephine Byrne Butler, who hails from Ballyhaunis, County Mayo and student of NY based dance master Donny Golden.

Ryan Molloy is a composer and performer from Pomeroy, Co. Tyrone, currently resident in Co. Kildare. His music has been recorded on over thirty albums and his repertoire spans numerous genres from traditional Irish music to contemporary classical music. He has worked with a host of internationally renowned artists such as Fergal Scahill, Seán Óg Graham, Paddy Glackin, Iarla Ó Lionáird, North Cregg, Barry Kerr, the Danish String Quartet, the Ulster Orchestra, and Irish Chamber Orchestra, amongst many others.
He has written over fifty works and his music has been performed to audiences on four continents for over twenty years, as well as featuring regularly in national and international TV and radio broadcasts (including BBC, RTÉ, TG4 and RnaG). As a composer, Ryan has represented Ireland at the prestigious ISCM World New Music Days festivals in Hong Kong (2015), Vancouver (2017) and Auckland/Christchurch (2022).
Described as a ‘milestone’ in traditional piano performance, Ryan’s critically acclaimed first solo recording pianophony was released in 2019 and earned him two RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards nominations in 2020 and 2021. That year also saw the release of Tempered, a new CD of music for uilleann pipes and piano, as well as a digital EP featuring the 30-minute song cycle Buaine na Gaoithe performed by its commissioners, the Damselfly Trio. Ryan is currently Associate Professor of composition at Maynooth University. He is also reported to own a fiddle.

From North Conamara, Liz and Yvonne Kane, known as The Kane Sisters, are much respected musicians and educators. Born in Letterfrack, they were educated in Kylemore Abbey School. They were taught music by the great Sligo musician and music teacher, Mary Finn and by their grandfather, Jimmy Mullen.

From a young age, they have been very influenced by the traditional music of Sligo and East Galway, in particular the music of the master composer and fiddle player Paddy Fahey. Liz and Yvonne first came to national and international prominence during the three year period in which they toured with accordion player, Sharon Shannon as members of her band, The Woodchoppers. They travelled all over the world with her band and are featured artists on Sharon’s album ‘The Diamond Mountain Sessions.’

Following this period of touring with Sharon Shannon, they decided to embark musically on their own and they recorded their first album in 2002 entitled ‘The Well Tempered Bow’. The Kane Sisters toured Ireland and the United States following the release of their first album and they followed up with a second album ‘Under the Diamond’ in 2004 and third album in 2010 called ‘Side by side’. In 2022 they released their fourth album ‘In Memory of Paddy Fahey’ featuring 15 of his compositions as well as newly written tunes from both Liz and Yvonne. Based in Letterfrack they have a solid teaching schedule with a large number of fiddle students both locally and virtually.

This organisation was formed in the early 1980s to help support and promote the art of fiddle playing in the Donegal tradition. Led by musician/researcher/author Caoimhín MacAoidh and fiddle-maker, Rab Cherry, the organisation’s core mission is to strengthen Donegal fiddle playing at its roots, and to improve standards, promote participation in all aspects of Donegal fiddle music and encourage the transmission of the Donegal styles and repertoire. The organisation’s main events include the annual Donegal Fiddlers’ Summer School in Glencolmbcille and the October Donegal Fiddlers’ Meeting Glenties. Cairdeas na bhFidléirí has issued a substantial body of recordings by fiddle players, past and present, and shares a wealth of information about fiddle styles and associated history and folklore on its website, This site also offers a suite of fiddle lessons by contemporary Donegal fiddlers as well as the unique Musical Landscape project, a cartography mapping fiddlers and their stories across the county.
Cairdeas na bhFidléirí’s monumental efforts in preserving local traditions and nurturing a vibrant musical community have left an indelible mark in Donegal and beyond. Its influence extends to every fiddle player in the county, from legendary figures like Tommy Peoples to contemporary icons like Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, and rising stars like Megan Nic Fhionnghaile. The diverse and dynamic crop of contemporary fiddle players across Donegal stands as a testament to the profound impact of this organisation’s contribution.
Cairdeas na bhFidléirí operates as a not-for-profit voluntary organisation and any income generated is invested directly into their events, programmes, publications, projects and support for living artists. Its mission is supported by An Chomhairle Ealaíon/The Arts Council who provide vital financial support for this work.


Media Contact in TG4:
Linda Ní Ghríofa | Eagarthóir Cumarsáide TG4 |
Ellie Byrne PR |

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