James Connolly’s great, great grandson wins Irish Heritage music bursary

James Connolly’s great great grandson wins Irish Heritage music bursary
Adam Heron

The piano playing great, great grandson of James Connolly is this year’s winner of the Irish Heritage Music Bursary.

Adam Heron, a classical pianist at Royal Academy of Music, won the £5,000 award after a day of before a panel of experts at the Wigmore Hall led by the Hall’s director John Gilhooly OBE.

The prize is awarded every year to a student of Irish heritage studying music in this country. This year’s contestant included students nominated by the seven major music conservatoires and by the National Opera Studios.

Eighteen-year-old Adam was born in Hong Kong and adopted at birth by his mother Ann Heron, from Dublin, who was working there as a teacher.

She brought Adam with her to live in Cheltenham in 2003, making regular visits to Dublin and to Spiddal in County Galway, the home of his late grandparents where Adam learned Irish.

Adam’s mother is a great granddaughter of James Connolly. In Cheltenham Adam’s mother sent him to a local junior school where, aged 7, he was awarded a scholarship to study with Adrian Partington, Director of Music at Gloucester Cathedral.


From 2012 until 2017 Adam studied piano at Wells Cathedral School with Hilary Coates and Richard Ormrod whence he was awarded a scholarship for his current studies, Bachelor of Music course at the Royal Academy.

The Academy’s Emeritus Professor of Piano Christopher Elton put Adam forward for the bursary.

Adam has played in both national and international piano competitions and has performed in venues from Cheltenham to Kiev and Hong Kong as well as participating in master classes with some of this country’s most distinguished classical pianists, Stephen Hough, John Lill and Imogen Cooper.

Chairman of the judges, John Gilhooly, said: “Adam is a very engaging young musician and we are very pleased that Irish Heritage can help him at such a pivotal point in his studies.”

Adam said of the bursary: “It is both an honour and a delight to have been awarded the Irish Heritage Music Bursary.

“An opportunity to perform in the main auditorium at the Wigmore Hall was a very special privilege, and I know that it will be a great pleasure to work with Irish Heritage during the years to come.

“Its outstanding work in supporting Irish artists both in Ireland and the UK is quite simply remarkable.”

Adam will give a cameo performance at Irish Heritage’s annual “Christmas by Candlelight” concert in St George’s Hanover Square (Handel’s Church) in London on Monday 18 December and will give a full recital at the Irish Heritage concert in Leighton House Museum, London W14 on nest summer on Tuesday 12 June.

Adam will also perform at the Lismore Opera Festival on 1 June with the two highly commended contestants for this year’s Bursary – soprano Rebecca Murphy from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and harpist Maria McNamee from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

Irish Heritage is a voluntary arts organisation established in London in 1974 to promote the appreciation and understanding of classical music (broadly defined) and music composed by Irish composers, performed by young Irish musicians in Britain to a wide audience and is the only Irish arts organisation in Britain dedicated to helping young Irish musicians through their continuing education and the early part of their careers.

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