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Gradam Ceoil TG4

Fintan Vallely – Lifetime Achievement Award


Fintan Vallely is a flute player, author, songwriter and educator, born in rural county Armagh in 1949. He played whistle, flute and uilleann pipes from his teenage years, has recorded several albums, including Fintan Vallely – Traditional Irish Flute Music (1979), The Starry Lane to Monaghan (1992), and Merrijig Creek (2021), in addition to touring across Ireland, in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.

He published the first tutor for the Irish flute Timber – the Flute Tutor in 1986, went on to study ethnomusicology at Queens University Belfast, and from 1994–99 was The Irish Times’ and Sunday Tribune’s traditional music correspondent and reviewer. In 1999, he edited Companion to Irish Traditional Music—an A–Z encyclopaedia of traditional music in Ireland which involved more than 200 writers. In 2011, a second edition was published and, in 2023, a third edition will be published by Cork University Press. His latest book is a major history of the bodhrán.

He has published numerous writings include biographies, and academic journal articles, chapters and reviews. He has been an organiser of major conferences in traditional music including the 1996 Crosbhealach an Cheoil / The Crossroads Conference with Liz Doherty, Hammy Hamilton, Eithne Vallely and Cormac Breathnach.

As a lecturer in Irish traditional music, he has taught at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, University of Ulster, Trinity College Dublin, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of Newcastle. In 2012, he developed Compánach, an audio-visual concert interpretation of his Companion book, which he toured internationally with musicians including fiddle player Gerry O’Connor, piper Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn, dancer Sibéal Davitt, singer Máire Ní Choilm, singer and fiddle-player Róisín Chambers, fiddle player Liz Doherty, singer Karan Casey, and dancer Emma O’Sullivan. This music is also on CD and DVD. He teaches flute at Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy in Co. Clare annually and also at workshops in Ireland and abroad.