Two groups from Laois have made it through to the national final of Siansa Gael Linn 2017, one of the country’s most prestigious competitions for young traditional Irish musicians.
Fiúntas, which features musicians from Abbeyleix, The Swan and Camross, and Lonrach, which has members from Borris-in-Ossory, Portarlington and Ballaghmore, have made it through to the last 8 of Siansa Gael Linn 2017, out of over 60 groups who initially took part in the competition.
The final will take place on April 2 in the National Concert Hall.
Laois is the only county with two group representatives in the final – a testament to the talent of young musicians in the county.
Niamh de Búrca of Siansa Gael Linn was full of praise for the local entrants. “It’s a fantastic achievement for Laois,” she said.
Fiúntas also made the final in 2016.
Fiúntas is an entirely Laois based group, comprising members from Spink and Camross Comhaltas branches. Put together by David and Mark Vesey in September 2015, the group comprises David on piano, flute and vocals, Mark on banjo, mandolin, tenor guitar, accordion and percussion, Lily Kettle on fiddle and vocals, her brother Naoise on fiddle, Dara Clooney on uilleann pipes and guitar, Conor Thompson on flute, pipes and bodhran, Caoimhe Lowry on concertina, whistle and vocals, and Molly Donnery on harp and lead vocals.
Lonrach is comprised of six Laois musicians; Maeve, Ellen and David Scott (Borris-in-Ossory), Fiadh Fitzpatrick (Portarlington) and Conall Nevin (Ballaghmore) with Aoife Buckley and Leah Murphy hailing from Cork, and Peter Bennett from Roundwood.
They will perform in the National Concert Hall alongside six other groups from Coleraine, Sligo, Dublin, Corofin, Limerick and Ballincollig.
Two other Laois groups also made the semi-finals – Malóg and Sin a Bhfuil.
Siansa is a competition for young traditional Irish music and singing groups. Organised by Gael Linn with support from RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta and Irish Music Magazine, Siansa provides a platform for talented teenage groups who aim to emulate groups such as Téada, Altan, Danú, Dervish etc.
While Siansa is essentially a competition, the groups are helped and encouraged along the way by highly regarded traditional musicians. The event is run entirely through the medium of Irish.
Since Siansa Gael Linn 2017 kicked off in December last, the eight finalists have qualified through two preliminary rounds of the competition. To aid the creative process, the young musicians were given an opportunity to attend workshops with renowned musicians, Niamh Ní Charra and Declan Masterson in Cashel and Claregalway recently.
Having given the young musicians tips and advice at the workshops, Niamh and Declan will now judge the final with help from the highly respected concertina player and guitarist, Jacinta McEvoy, currently a member of the the acclaimed ‘Gatehouse’.
The groups will be judged on their overall performance on the night, incorporating choice of music, arrangement, singing and ensemble playing.
The winning group will receive a prize of €2,500 together with the Gael Linn Trophy.
Second prize is €1,250 and third prize €750.
Every musician who takes part in the final receives a memento of the occasion.