Scottish musician Frank McArdle to receive coveted traditional Irish music award

Scottish musician Frank McArdle to receive coveted traditional Irish music award

RENOWNED traditional Irish musician and educator Frank McArdle will be honoured with an Outstanding Contribution Award next month.

The Scottish musician, whose roots lie in counties Antrim, Sligo and Monaghan has been voted the winner of the Gradam Comaoine/The Outstanding Contribution Award in TG4’s annual Gradam Ceoil awards.

For 2023 Gradam Ceoil changed how The Outstanding Contribution Award was chosen.

For the first time it has been selected by a combination of public nomination and panel selection.

After a call-out for nominees TG4 received hundreds of submissions from all over the world for this years’ award, but the Irish language broadcaster confirmed this week that the award will go to McArdle when the ceremony takes place next month.

Frank McArdle will receive his award next month (Pic: Alistair Cassidy)

McArdle, whose grandparents hailed from Antrim, Sligo and Monaghan, is a musician, educator and founder of the St Roch's Céilí Band in Glasgow.

Having grown up in the small town of Dalmellington in Ayrshire, he moved to Glasgow and worked as a maths teacher in St Roch’s Secondary School, where he founded a céilí band for students – the St Roch’s Ceilí Band – in 1978.

As a musician, he plays the piano accordion, fiddle and guitar and was inspired by Irish traditional musicians such as fiddle player Sean McGuire, button accordionist Joe Burke and The Bothy Band.

As a member of his local Comhaltas branch The Irish Minstrels, he began to introduce his pupils from the school céilí band to the Comhaltas lessons, céilís and fleadhanna.

He later took on the running of the branch and moved its classes to St Roch’s Secondary School where it is still based.

The Irish Minstrels Comhaltas branch now has over 150 pupils and provides free tuition in whistle, fiddle, flute, button accordion, piano accordion, concertina, banjo and uilleann pipes.

Frank McArdle pictured with the St Roch's Céilí Band in Glasgow

McArdle is now Chairman of the branch and facilitates its lessons and entries to fleadhanna across Britain and in Ireland.

The branch has 30 tutors, who learned their music at the classes and are happy to teach on a voluntary basis.

In 2022, the branch, which performs as the St Roch’s Céilí Band, sent four céilí bands and four grúpaí ceoil to the All Ireland Fleadh in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

“McArdle is a passionate educator and musician who has taught hundreds of young traditional musicians and provided free tuition and performance opportunities for all ages and levels of ability,” a TG4 spokesperson said.

An Gradam Comaoine was first presented in 2006 to pay tribute to the dedication of those people who have worked tirelessly to ensure the preservation and dissemination of traditional Irish music.

McArdle will receive his award at the awards ceremony due to be held on April 23.

He will be joined by a group of St. Roch's musicians on the night.

Frank McArdle with two of his daughters, Siobhan (left) and Patricia

The full list of TG4 Gradam Ceoil 2023 recipients are: 

Gradam Comaoine/Outstanding Contribution – Frank McArdle

Ceoltóir /Musician – Mick O’Brien

Amhránaí /Singer – Síle Denvir

Ceoltóir Óg/Young Musician – Méabh Smyth

Gradam Saoil/Lifetime Achievement – Fintan Vallelly

Cumadóir / Composer – Maurice Lennon

Grúpa Ceoil/Music Group- Mick, Louise, Michelle Mulcahy

Tickets for Gradam Ceoil TG4 2023 are available here.