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Gradam Ceoil TG4

Derek Hickey – Musician of the Year


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”.