IT was a night that both showcased and rewarded the stunning quality and variety of musical talent produced by Ireland.
The inaugural Irish Post Music Awards, in conjunction with IMRO, honoured seasoned performers and emerging talents alike, acts that spanned the spectrum of musical genres.
Perhaps summing that eclecticism up most succinctly on the night was Roddie Cleere who, as a DJ, is one of the gatekeepers of Ireland’s airwaves.
“I’d like to thank The Irish Post, IMRO of course, but most importantly I want to thank the musicians of this country right across the board,” said Cleere, who picked up the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Music Industry Through TV & Radio.
“Every week on the radio programme, I’m astounded at the standard that comes from bands who, probably at this very moment in time, are annoying the hell out of their parents with the noise from the garage!
“Keep doing what you’re doing guys, because I love doing what I do and I love hearing your music.”
The quality and diversity of Irish music was evident from the first two live performances of the night, overseen by singer Malachi Cush and presenter Síle Seoige.
After the INEC in Killarney had just about stopped reverberating from the High Kings’ pounding performance of The Rocky Road to Dublin, Una Healy took to the stage.
The former Saturdays singer’s acoustic rendition of her latest single Never See Me Cry offered a beautiful counterpoint to the folk group’s rousing opener.
They were the first of several stunning performances, from The Blizzards’ frenetic Fantasy to Cliona Hagan’s country classic Born to Run and rising RnB star Zali’s Can’t Stop.
Showing how well genres can merge, there were amazing collaborations in Killarney, including the High Kings and Phil Coulter coming together for a rendition of his song Hand Me Down My Bible.
Meanwhile folk band Beoga and pop star Ryan McMullan performed their recent collaboration We Don’t Have to Run, described by Seoige as “a marriage of musical magic”.
Hiccups and tears
However the course of live TV never runs smoothly and the TG4 broadcast experienced an unexpected hiccup.
Confusion swept the auditorium when Zali failed to appear to collect her award for Best Single.
“Is there any sign of Zali?” said award presenter Cleere.
“I literally did not expect this!” said the breathless, shocked star as she finally ascended the stage to collect the award for her song Girls Like Us.
“I was changing and getting ready for my performance!”
Perhaps not just flustered at almost missing her award presentation, she also revealed that the inaugural Irish Post Music Awards would be the first time her parents would get to see her perform.
While it was a night of firsts, some familiar faces – vanguards for the younger acts – were also honoured.
Phil Coulter received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his successes over more than five decades in the music industry.
Meanwhile an emotional Chris DeBurgh received the Lifetime Award for Achievement in the Music Industry.
“Last year I was lucky enough to receive a similar award for Lifetime Achievement in Beirut in the Lebanon,” said the Lady in Red singer.
“But to get one in your home country is much more important and very impressive. I’m deeply moved.”
A tearful DeBurgh, who lives in Wicklow and spent much of his youth in Wexford, went on to thank his family for their support throughout his career.
Although not born in Ireland and, he said, rarely regarded as “fully Irish”, the singer added he was “immensely proud to have represented this wonderful country" around the globe.
His comments hinted at the global appeal and unifying qualities of Irish music.
As social media users flooded the live show with tweets from all corners of the world – from Britain to America, Germany to New Zealand – it was hard to disagree.
Irish Post Music Award Winners
Best Irish Pop/Rock Act
Best Irish Country Act
Best Irish Folk Act
Best Irish Indie Act
Outstanding Contribution to the Music Industry Through TV & Radio
Roddie Cleere – KCLR
Best Irish Single
Zali – Girls Like Us
Best Irish Album
Picture This – Picture This
Lifetime Award for Achievement in the Music Industry
Lifetime Achievement Award