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Sorcha Costello will be presented with her award on October 31. Photograph by Maurice Gunning.

East Clare musician wins prestigious young player of year award

TULLA musician Sorcha Costello is to be honoured as part of the highly prestigious TG4 Gradam Ceoil, which was launched in Belfast last night, writes Fiona McGarry.

The talented fiddle player was chosen as Ceoltóir Óg na Bliana and will be presented with the award at ceremony that will be broadcast on TG4 on October 31 at 9.30pm.

Sorcha, who is now Galway-based, but returns regularly to Tulla to teach told The Champion of her delight at the award.

“To receive this honour is just mind-blowing,” she said. “I play for the love and enjoyment of music and it’s a huge honour to have that recognised.”

Sorcha is the daughter of MÓrglór Award winner, Mary MacNamara, and Kevin Costello, who makes and repairs concertinas.

Mary, was Sorcha’s first music teacher, and according to her daughter is herself “a secret fiddle player”.

“Dad is a lovely singer and a great dancer,” Sorcha added. “Both of them are over the moon at news of the award”.

With a family that is steeped in music, it’s natural that the East Clare tradition should be particularly close to Sorcha’s heart.

“I love the tradition of East Clare, it’s my passion,” Sorcha said. “I really enjoy teaching and passing on that music and the Ceoltóir award means a lot because it really recognises that tradition.”

Sorcha has been playing music since before she can remember and at a very young age she performed on stage with her mother in Shetland, Norway, France, Australia and Ireland.

She has a degree in Music and English from University College Cork (UCC), and has won various All-Ireland Fleadhanna Cheoil solo, duet and band accolades.

While Sorcha has inherited the East Clare style of fiddle playing, she also has an interest in many other styles. She is a member of the band The Provenance with Frankie Gavin,  Eadaoin Ní Mhaicín and Ciara O’Brien.

Sorcha’s debut album, The Lady’s Cup of Tea, features her mother, Mary, and embodies the East Clare style.

Recording a solo album is an ambition of her’s, but she said that she won’t be rushing that process.

“It is something I would love to do, but I plan to take time over, because I want to accumulate material and to practice,” she said.

“I would certainly plan to stick to my roots and to stay close to the tradition.”

The hugely talented Sorcha will soon be starting work and using her passion for music to help others. She recently celebrated her graduation from the University of Limerick (UL) and now has an MA in Music Therapy.

“When I first found out about the MA, it related to every value in my life and I knew there was nothing else I’d like to do more,” she said.

“In the next week or two, I’ll be working with children between three and 18 who have intellectual disabilities and autism, so that’s very exciting too.”

The Gradam Ceoil will recorded in Belfast in late October and broadcast on Hallowe’en Night.

Gradam Ceoil TG4 is the premier annual traditional music awards scheme and academy. An independent panel of adjudicators selects recipients each year. It is not a competition.
The Gradam Ceoil recipients are presented with a specially-commissioned piece by leading sculptor John Coll as well as a small stipend.

This year’s awards will be broadcast from Whitla Hall in Queen’s University Belfast to celebrate TG4’s 25th Birthday and will be available online for international viewers on

TG4 Director General, Alan Esslemont, said, “Gradam Ceoil TG4 is 24 years in existence, and recognises the best of traditional Irish music, an initiative that TG4 is immensely proud of.

“I would like to congratulate all of this year’s winners. They are the embodiment of traditional Irish music and song, and we are delighted to award them the highest honour in Irish music.”

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