Gradam Award for Padraigin
Dundalk native Pádraigin Ní Uallacháin has been named as this year's recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award in the TG4 Gradam Awards announced at a reception in Belfast's City Hall recently.
It's an award which is richly deserved as Pádraigín has devoted her life to Irish music and song as a singer, collector and researcher, and earlier this year launched a website dedicated to preserving the rich musical culture of the Oriel region.
'I am delighted and very grateful to get this award,' she says. 'It's always nice to get recognition. We're all human, children at heart, and love praise. An award like this is very nice because it means that your work is recognised as public work, not personal. And I'm very conscious of doing work for public benefit.'
Growing up in an Irish speaking family, Pádraigín says 'our parents instilled in us a love of place, language and music and that's what I have carried on. I didn't have to work on it as sense of place is very important to me.'
This love of her native Louth and neighbouring Armagh, where she now lives in Mullaghbawn, shines through her work as singer and collector of songs.
Having worked as newsreader and broadcaster with RTE and teacher, Padráigín has been a professional singer since 1999 and has worked as an academic and collector of songs.
She has been a Traditional Musician in Residence for eight years in the Seamus Heaney Centre of Poetry in Queens University Belfast, and also did one year residencies in Dundalk nstitute of Technology and The Glens Arts Centre in Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim. She is also the first recipient of an Irish language fellowship from the Royal Literary Fund based at St Mary's University College Belfast and Queen's University Belfast.
As a singer, Padráigín has made it her life's work to preserve and bring to life the songs of the Oriel region. She includes songs from this region in her repertoire and recently restored 30 such Gaelic songs on her Oriel Arts Project website.
This beautiful website which was launched this autumn follows from the her book 'A Hidden Ulster - people, songs and traditions of Oriel' which was published in 2003.
Coinciding with the website launch, she recorded a double CD 'Ceoltaí Oirialla' of 27 songs.
She also works on her own compositions and has set to music, early Irish poetry, medieval Irish poetry, Bardic poetry, traditional lyrics and works by leading Irish contemporary poets, including Seamus Heaney, Ciaran Carson, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Biddy Jenkinson, and Michael Hartnett. She has also recorded albums of children's songs in Irish. Her own songs in English have been recorded by other musicians including, Dolores Keane, The Black Family, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and Danú, The Boys of the Lough, and Skylark.
Padraigin welcomes the award, not just as recognition of her own work, but as recognition of the Oriel region. 'It's nice to be able to celebrate your work but that's not why you do the work,' she continues. 'It puts Oriel and our culture on the map.'
She is looking forward to the award ceremony and the TV4 Gradam Ceoil TG4 2018 gala concert which will lace in the Belfast Waterfront on February 4th, 2018. As one of the performers, she will be joined on stage by members of her own family and also her late sister Eithne's, and musicians fron the region.