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River rocks the English capital to claim Fiddler of London 2024

“I HAVE never been as happy as I am now,” talented 17-year-old River McGann tells us as he celebrates being crowned ‘Fiddler of London 2024’ at the weekend.
There was success on the double for Clare in the prestigious international competition with Doora-Barefield teenager Jack Dilleen also being named ‘Up and Coming Fiddler of London’.
The musicians both travelled to London at the weekend where they showcased their talents at the Fiddler of London Festival taking place across two days at the London Irish Centre.
River was among 12 finalists who took to the stage at the festival’s grand final on Saturday night. Judge Donál O’Connor praised River for demonstrating “a uniquely individualistic, creative, stylistic and confident demonstration of fiddling beyond his young years.”
Speaking to The Clare Champion River says he was stunned to take the overall title of ‘Fiddler of London’.
“There were a couple of names I was expecting him to say when he was calling the winner, and mine was definitely not one of those names. Everybody was so incredibly good.
“I have never been as happy as I am. It’s very surreal. It’s a legend of trad music to win Fiddler of London so this is just crazy. It still hasn’t set in and I’m sure I’ll be all emotional when it does but right now I’m just enjoying the high.”
The Rice College student describes the weekend at the festival in London as a “brilliant” experience. He was joined there by his father Evan and aunt Laura who cheered him on all the way. River credits his grandfather Gerry with fostering his love of music, and while he couldn’t be there in person he was certainly in River’s thoughts during the ceremony.
“My granddad Gerry is where it all started, he’s the reason I play. He bought me my first fiddle and I wouldn’t be where I am now without him. When I see him next maybe we will have to go for a few tunes in the Diamond.”
River says the weekend was one of many highlights including Jack Dilleen’s win in the ‘Up and Coming’ competition. “I was really glad he got that because he is phenomenal. He performed on the Friday night and I wouldn’t expect anything less than incredible and that is exactly what we got. He’s just amazing.”
River was also thrilled to take to the stage with the Blackwater Céilí Band during the festival. “I’ve always wanted to see them live and to get the opportunity to actually play with them when I was announced the winner was amazing, I’m a massive fan.” And he paid tribute to Irish band Sult who were named Fiddler of London Trad Group 2024.
River is set to perform at the Féile Oriel in Monaghan this May where as well as performing as the holder of the Fiddler of London title he will also be competing in the under 18s competition. He is also set to perform at the Belfast Trad Fest, Ballyshannon Folk Festival and the All Ireland Fleadh.

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