Two Waterford Brothers, and Two Armagh Sisters, to compete in Seán Ó Riada Final
Two trad mad Déise brothers, Macdara and Pax Ó Faoláin, as well as two talented Armagh sisters, Annie and Méabh Smyth, are amongst the fourteen finalists who will compete for the Seán Ó Riada Gold Medal in Cork on Friday 3 February. Peadar Ó Riada will present the event live on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta from the Rochestown Park Hotel.
Pax Ó Faoláin is a musician, singer and producer. He is also a composer, and is currently involved in various schemes to preserve the work of several important traditional musicians. He is a member of the group Nuadán, and does a lot of production work for TV and festivals. He is based between Cork and An Rinn. Macdara is a multi-instrumentalist, playing fiddle, mandolin and bouzouki. He works as a luthier, creating beautiful, handcrafted instruments in his studio in An Rinn. He previously competed in the Seán Ó Riada Gold Medal final in 2019, and recently completed an honours degree in the Cork School of Music. He is also a member of the group Nuadán. Both brothers took part in the Tyrone productions show Slí na mBeaglaoich broadcast on TG4 in 2022.
Annie and Méabh Smyth are from a musical family from Ballymacnab in Co. Armagh steeped in the South Ulster and Donegal fiddle tradition. The sisters both started on fiddle around age seven in the Armagh Pipers Club. Méabh is a distinguished soloist, and was the inaugural Ed Reavy Fiddle Player of the Year as well as being crowned the 2021 Fiddler of London. She is a barrister, and previously qualified for the Seán Ó Riada Gold medal Final in 2019. As well as being a gifted fiddler, her sister Annie also plays banjo and whistle, and qualified as a finalist for the Fiddler of London 2022. She also recently participated in the Ed Reavy Fiddle Weekend and the Birmingham TradFest. Annie is currently studying Marketing Innovation and Technology in DCU.
The Seán Ó Riada Gold Medal competition is a prestigious traditional music competition that focuses on a different instrument every year over a four-year cycle, and this year it is for fiddle. The competition attracted the highest ever number of entries this year since its inception in 2010. There are five US musicians in the final on 3 February, the highest ever number of finalists from abroad, as well as fiddlers from across the island of Ireland.
The judges for this year’s competition are esteemed traditional musicians Connie O’Connell, Éamon McGivney and Ciarán Ó Maonaigh. The winner of the competition will take home the bespoke gold medal, as well as €2500. Tickets to the event can be bought on the door for €10, and it will be broadcast live on RTÉ RnaG and streamed live.
Competition organiser Peadar Ó Riada said: “We are very happy with the development of the competition over the last 13 years and its place in the international world of traditional Irish Music. Radio makes the world grow smaller, and the competition has attracted entrants from across the world through the Cuireadh chun Ceoil programme. The calibre of this year’s entrants is as high as it’s ever been and we believe the competition is setting a standard, and this is due in great part to the quality of its adjudicators over the years. We hope that trad audiences will tune in on the night, and we’ll also have the live stream as we do every year.”
The full list of finalists are Adam Cole-Mullen from Boston, Alice Bradley from Maryland, Andrew Caden from Maryland, Joe de Georgeo from Minnesota, Ty Kelliher from Connecticut, Caoimhe Flannery from Rockchapel Co. Cork, Megan Nic Fhionnghaile from Gaoth Dobhair in Donegal, Annie Smyth from Ballymacnab in Armagh, Jason McGuinness from Dromore West in Sligo, Macdara Ó Faoláin from An Rinn in Waterford, Méabh Smyth from Armagh, Pax Ó Faoláin from An Rinn in Waterford, Sinéad Nic Cionnaith from Augher in Co. Tyrone, and Úna McGlinchey from Omagh, Co. Tyrone.
The final will be broadcast at 7 pm on Friday 3 February on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.
The competition is sponsored by RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, Iontaobhas Fódhla, Gael Linn, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, IMRO and the Rochestown Park Hotel in Cork.