Dubliner won the Horizon Award and Best Traditional Track at the star-studded gig
Up-and-coming Irish folk singer Daoiri Farrell scooped an impressive double at the 2017 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in London last week. Daoiri – who is a qualified electrician as well as being a dab hand on the bouzouki – took home the Horizon Award, which recognises the genre’s best emerging talent, and Best Traditional Track for ‘Van Diemen’s Land’.
Along with his band, he also got the opportunity to perform his winning song and, with all his family and friends in tow, said it was an experience he will never forget.
“It was amazing, absolutely amazing. It was worth all the hard work and it was great to be sitting there with everyone who had helped me,” he told The Irish World. “All me cousins were there and you could hear them shouting from way up in the gods. It was an incredible night.”
While landing the awards were obvious highlights, Daoiri was quick to realise that the evening itself was an eye-opening event. Surrounded by folk legends, including this year’s Lifetime Achievement recipients Al Stewart and Ry Cooder, and with the chance to perform to such a vast, appreciative audience, he almost had to pinch himself.
“We were in this huge place and during the sound check I was thinking ‘whoa, look at it now, imagine what it’ll be like when it’s full?’” he said. “It was fantastic, the sound was perfect and it was great to be around all these musical giants. It was unreal; it was like a dream seeing these guys who you’d listened to for years.”
The man from Dublin has walked a relatively long and winding road to where he is now and while he admits that he’d have “loved for this to have happened a few years ago” he is so grateful to be reaping the rewards now.
“It’s great to be acknowledged in any way but, when it’s for doing something that you love, it doesn’t get much better,” he added.
His fans will tell you he’s always been a superstar but even he might not have expected to have ended up at the Royal Albert Hall with a prestigious Folk Award in each hand. From teaching himself how to play traditional instruments, to late-night Dublin Seisúns to gaining a formal musical education, he’s certainly been patient. This makes his achievements even more impressive and he explained how it wouldn’t have been possible without perseverance and fantastic support from those around him.
“I guess I just knuckled down and realised that it’s no good excepting second best,” he said. “If something’s not right, we’d make sure we’d go back and do it again until it was.
“And I had such a cool bunch around me when we were doing the album, [‘True Born Irishman’] – every single one of them knew what they were doing.”
Daoiri hopes to kick on now and has vowed not to allow another seven years to pass between album releases. He explained how he would always be thinking about new material with a vision to get back into the recording studio. He also intends to add more dates to his touring schedule and is looking forward to a homecoming in Ireland where he says the folk scene is going from “strength to strength”.
Now though, he’s earned some time for celebrating and, given that he had a relatively quiet night after the Awards, he might want to make up lost ground.
“Despite everything, we didn’t even end up drinking that much; we were in bed at a reasonable hour,” he said. “So I felt even better the next day and was down for the nine o’clock breakfast.”
You sense that over the coming days, Daoiri, his friends and his family will be missing a few breakfasts – and who could blame them.