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Gradam Ceoil TG4

Macdara Ó Faoláin – Young Musician of the Year


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.