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Gradam Ceoil TG4

Gradam Ceoil TG4 2024 | Bursary Scheme

For five years, Belfast was host city to the prestigious TG4 Gradam Ceoil Awards. The city of Belfast welcomed the opportunity to acknowledge the talented musicians from across the island and their infectious passion for Irish traditional music. In addition to the positive energy Gradam brought to the local music scene, in November 2021 Belfast became a UNESCO City of Music, celebrating the city’s rich musical heritage and recognising the importance of music to its future.

As a legacy of Gradam’s success in Belfast, the inaugural TG4 Gradam Ceoil Bursary Scheme was created by Belfast City Council in partnership with TG4, the Duncairn Arts Centre and Red Shoe Productions. The scheme is open to three Belfast-based traditional Irish musicians aged 18 – 25, and they receive a bursary of £3000 as well as invaluable support, training and mentoring. The bursaries have had a transformative effect on the careers for the young awardees, as they have been able to build on their musicianship, and opened the door to many new opportunities, such as national television and radio appearances.

Cian McGrory

Cian McGrory

Cian McGrory is a multi-instrumentalist and music teacher from county Down, specialising in guitar and uilleann pipes. His music has been influenced by the piping of Padraig McGovern and Mick O’Brien, as well as formative figures in the traditional music revival such as Frankie Gavin and Charlie Lennon. He has also closely studied the music of more recent artists, Mícheal Ó Raghallaigh, Cormac Begley and Dave Sheridan.

He has been deeply involved with music since his childhood, coming from a musical family in the Belfast area. His mother is the noted songwriter Brigid O’Neill, while his father Bara and aunties Clodach and Orla are well-known in traditional music circles. A fluent Irish speaker, Cian attended Shimna Integrated College in Newcastle before he progressed to the BIMM Institute in Dublin from where he graduated with an Honours Degree in Commercial Modern Music.

With an interest in a broad range of styles from Irish traditional music to blues, Cian is currently making an impact on the Belfast music scene. As both a piper and guitarist, he regularly curates and hosts traditional music sessions throughout Belfast for key venues and festivals such as Féile an Phobail and Belfast Trad Fest. As a guitarist he plays in a number of fusion bands, combining traditional music, folk and rhythm and blues, and has performed in well-known venues such as the Black Box Belfast and Whelan’s Dublin.

Peter McKenna

Peter McKenna

Peter McKenna is a fast-emerging young piping talent from Augher, Co. Tyrone. A five-time All-Ireland champion on uilleann pipes, Peter’s music is heavily influenced by master pipers such as Paddy Keenan, Padraig McGovern and Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn, the latter who taught him at the Armagh Pipers Club where he learned to ply his trade. He has made numerous television and radio appearances on programmes such as Hup!, Geantraí, Fleadh TV, Céilí House and Raidió na Gaeltachta and heavily featured in a BBC documentary on the 2013 All-Ireland Fleadh in Derry.

No stranger to performing, Peter has played as a solo artist at music festivals throughout Ireland, Europe and for audiences across New York last year with his family for the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations including for then Taoiseach Michael Martin and global ambassadors to the United Nations. Other festivals being the Padraig O’Keefe Festival, NPU’s piping Tionóls, Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy and headlined the Cailin Rua Pipes at the Padua Festival in Italy in 2023 (Italy). He is a guest artist in his sister Sinéad McKenna’s debut album ‘Faoi Lán Ceoil’ (2024).

Currently residing in Belfast, He is an active member of Comharchumann Píobaireachta Béal Feirste having both taught and performed as a guest piper. He has performed across the city at numerous prestigious events in venues such as the Waterfront Hall, Belfast City Hall, Queens University and St. Mary’s University College for International Uilleann Piping Day where he studies primary teaching. He has been key to establishing ‘Piping Trad’ a weekly piping session every Sunday and hosts a mid-week session both in the well-established cultural hub Madden’s Bar.

Miadhachlughain O’Donnell

Miadhachlughain O'Donnell

Miadhachlughain O’Donnell, known professional as Múlú, is a 24- year-old singer and multi-instrumentalist from Castlewellan, Co. Down. She is a fluent Irish speaker with a great interest in curating and performing songs in Irish, and also a keen interest in the folk song tradition. She has previously received Arts Council funding for her research and performance activities.

As a solo artist, she accompanies her voice with the shruti box – an Indian instrument similar to the harmonium – and sings traditional Irish songs in their language of origin. She is also a former flute player and adds this her repertoire when performing with her trio Tommy Moynagh (bodhrán, guitar) and Ciara Maguire (fiddle)
Múlú’s family, the McSherrys, have a history in Irish traditional music dating back to the 1980s. Her mother Tíona McSherry (flute, vocal), uncles John (uilleann pipes) and Paul (guitar) and auntie Jo (fiddle) recorded and toured internationally as Tamalin into the mid-90s. All four have been active in music in various capacities ever since – Tíona, for instance, organising Castlewellan’s annual Soma Festival since 2013, providing a home and town environment awash with folk and traditional music. Alongside that, she has always been a huge fan of the Beatles and has contributed backing vocals to the odd rock recording. For Múlú, it’s all music!

Múlú has been influenced by many great Irish singers including Cathy Jordan (Dervish), Padraigín Ní Uallacháin, Lasairfhíona, Albert Fry and Emma Ní Fhíoruisce.
In 2022 Múlú was featured on BBC NI performing ‘Amhrán an Phúca’ (Song of the Ghost). In January 2023, she launched her debut EP (physical/digital) Sásta a bheith anseo (Happy to Be Here), with accompaniment from Myles McCormack, Joe Campbell McArdle and Tommy Moynagh. Her EP has since been nominated for Best New Release at Gradam Nós 2024, as in addition to other nominations for Best Artwork and Best Emerging Artist. Múlú has spent the last year not only touring with her own group, but with new tradtronica group Huartan and also as a new member of Afro Celt Sound System. ACSS are looking forward to a tour this October of over 15 dates, whilst Huartan have many exciting things in the works for 2024 including the release of their debut EP and tour.