Local harpists go for gold in national competition

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Legendary Irish musician, Seán Ó Riada, after whom the competition is named
Legendary Irish musician, Seán Ó Riada, after whom the competition is named

Harpists from Clare and Limerick will be amongst the 14 finalists for the Seán Ó Riada Gold Medal that takes place in Cork on Friday 3 February, and will be broadcast live on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.

Gráinne Fitzgibbon, from Croom, Co. Limerick, learnt music from her mother, music teacher Sheila Cagney, and was taught harp by Hazel Tuohy from Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare. She is an active member of her local Comhaltas, and has won many Fleadh Cheoil titles, including the Senior Harp title in 2015.

Gráinne has toured with Comhaltas, and has played harp as an entertainer in Bunratty Castle.  She is currently studying to be a primary school teacher in Mary Immaculate College.

Cathy Kelly is originally from Antrim, but has been living in Ennis for several years.  She started learning the harp at national school from the renowned harpist Janet Harbison.

She spent ten years as resident harpist in Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich in Belfast, and has won several prizes at Fléadhanna Ceoil and harp festivals across the country.  As well as her own playing, Cathy has also been teaching music for many years.  She works as a researcher in the University of Limerick.

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Cathy and Gráinne will be joined by 12 other musicians for the final, which is for pipes and harp.  A winner in each instrument category (harp and pipes) will receive the Seán Ó Riada Gold Medal and they will also share a cash prize of €2500.

The winner of last year’s medal, which was for flute, was Sean Gavin, son of Mick Gavin from Meelick, Co. Clare.  Sean was born and raised in Detroit, and now lives in Chicago.

Tune to RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta on Friday 3 February from 7 pm for the final, broadcast live on Cuireadh chun Ceoil, presented by Peadar Ó Riada.  It will also be available online at www.rte.ie/rnag.