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ONLY A FEW MORE DAYS TO GO… The first note in the Siansa Gael Linn All-Ireland music final will sound through the hallowed accoustics of  the National Concert Hall on Sunday, April 6 next at 7.30pm. Eight teenage traditional music groups, 1,000 appreciative spectators and three judges will play, hear and reflect on the cream of young Irish musical talent. And the crème de la crème,  the winners, will return home with the Siansa Gael Linn musicians of the year title, a sparkling trophy in the back seat, a cheque for €2,500 in their pocket and the audience’s acclaim ringing in their ears. Not a bad day’s music-making!

Unless you’ve been to Siansa Gael Linn’s concert you cannot properly describe the heady mix of talent and competitive tension that marks Irish music’s annual event for young musicians who’ve chosen tradition as their vocation. From the stilling  gentle harp or rising voice, via guitar, flute and keyboard to the percussive bodhran and climactic accordeon burst the audience is enraptured.

And if you cannot be there you can still listen. The Siansa Grand Finale concert will be broadcast live on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, presented by Áine Hensey. And you can catch up with a full souvenir of reports and photographs of the big day in Irish Music Magazine. RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, Irish Music Magazine and Foras na Gaeilge are the main sponsors of this event.

The competition started out with 50 groups from all over the country. Then there were 32. These young musicians, averaging 12-19 years of age, were put through their paces with workshops mentored by professional musicians to sharpen their styles and expand their creativity. And then there were eight. It was hard work for the judges: Ciarán Ó Maonaigh from Donegal, founder of the group “Fidil” and Mary Bergin who has played with Dé Dannan and Dordán. There was dissapointment  among the 24 groups who didn’t make it but they will live to fight another day.

“It was obvious they and their mentors had put a lot of work into it which made it harder for us to select,” says Ciarán. “But that work will stand to them if they continue and if they do I have no doubt they will get the break they deserve.”

So who are the successful eight? They’re from all over the country: Sligo, Derry, Cork, Clare, Mayo, Waterford and Dublin. They are school students or friends who have come together for this competition. And as just mentioned, encouragement for those that did not make the finals this year must come from the fact that two of the bands “Lasair” from County Cork and “Na Rógairí” from Dublin have made it this year when they didn’t qualify in previous years. Two groups who never entered the competition before have made it to the final, “Glór Mhaigh Eo” from Castlebar and “Ceoltóirí Chnoc na Gaoithe” from county Clare. Be sure that garages and after-school-hour classrooms were throbbing since last Christmas with the sound of music and debate.

So what lies in store from the contestants on the big day? It starts with rehearsal and sound testing – no pressure! Each group has a 12-15 minute programme of music and melody to perform.  During the concert they will strive to impress the aforementioned Mary and Ciarán and Niamh Ní Charra, the third judge who is being brought in for the finals to cast a discerning ear. Niamh is an eminent musician herself having played with Riverdance.

Although there is a generous prizefund of €4,500 Gael Linn are heartened to know that that is not the main spur for the young musicians. “We are told repeatedly that the competition alone is not the main reason for them getting involved in Siansa,” says organiser Niamh de Búrca. “It is the prospect of performing in front of an audience of 1,000 in such a prestigious venue that is their prize before anything else.”

Every contestant will be presented with a memento of their achievement, and a CD of the music will be released in time. On top of that there will be guest appearances in key events like Temple Bar Trad Fest for the winners.

As stated RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta will broadcast live from the NCH at 7.30pm. TG4 will broadcast highlights of the event, produced by Red Shoe Productions on Wednesday, April 23 next at 9.30 p.m.

Siansa can be followed on Facebook and Twitter #Siansa

• Tickets for Siansa Gael Linn at €12 (€6 for students) are available at the National Concert Hall, 01-4170000 or at


Coming with a prizefund of €4,500 this year, the annual Siansa  Gael Linn has pedigree. First started in 2001 with the aim of promoting Irish music through the Irish language, it has helped launch musical careers and fast-track talent onto wider audiences. Among those were…

·        Caoimhín Ó Fearghaíl, a member of the winning “Fionnuar” in 2008, went on to become the TG4 Young Musician of the Year in 2012.

·        Jos and Ted Kelly, along with Paddy Hazleton, members of the 2009 winners, “Spraoi” have hit the international stage as “JPTrio” and launched their debut album

·        The 2010 winners, “Ioscaid” captured BBC 2’s Young Folk Award in 2012.


Iontas                        Gairmscoil Chúl Átha, Baile Idir Dhá Abhainn, Co. Sligo

Cóiriú                        Scoil Mhuire, Magherafelt, Co. Derry

Na hÓgánaigh         Coláistí Eoin & Íosagáin, Booterstown, Co Dublin

Na Rógairí                Coláiste Cois Life, Lucan, Co. Dublin

Glór Mhaigh Eo      Castlebar, Co Mayo

Ceoltóirí Chnoc       Tulla, Co Clare
na Gaoithe,

Trioscar                     Co Waterford

Lasair                         Mallow, Co. Cork

Each group will perform their own 10-12 minute musical arrangement and will be judged on performance on the night, choice of music, arrangement, singing and ensemble playing. File photos of the groups are available for download at


First prize ……………..  Gael Linn Trophy, Cheque for €2,500

Second Prize …………  Cheque for €1,250

Third Prize……………. Cheque for €750


Siansa Gael Linn will be broadcast live on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, hosted by the station’s popular presenter and traditional music afficionado, Áine Hensey. Independent TV company Red Shoe Productions will film the event which will be broadcast on TG4 on Wednesday, 23 April.


Siansa Gael Linn is one of the highlights in Gael Linn’s annual calendar of events. Now over 60 years in existence, the organisation is credited with rescuing Irish traditional music from the doldrums, galvanising it with Sean Ó Riada and Ceoltóirí Laighean and boosting it through the decades with ground-breaking bands like Clannad. The Irish language has also benefitted from its entrepreneurship in many guises: from organising country-wide and ever-popular debating competitions, drama production and Gaeltacht courses. According to Gael Linn chief executive Antoine Ó Coileáin, the organisation has and never will stray from its main objective “to provide opportunity through the medium of the Irish language. You will see that today at Siansa Gael Linn and we hope to continue to provide that opportunity in the decades ahead.”


A limited amount of tickets are available. Call the National Concert Hall at 01 417000 or go on

Further information:

Seán Ó Mainnín 0872220241 / 091 869961 /

Permalink - Posted: March 27, 2014 at 3:26 pm