Crossharbours Órlaith McAuliffe is celebrating a remarkable achievement after she became the first ever winner of the Young Musician of the Year at the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Awards to come from outside of Ireland. The 19-times All Ireland champion picked up the award which was first won by Sligo’s June Nic Cormac in 1998.
Órlaith’s music has been making a growing impact on fellow players and listeners, and she is seen as one of the leading young traditional musicians of the current young generation.
Órlaith is now recognised as an accomplished soloist whose musicianship and technique are outstanding – all this at the age of twenty three years.
From an early age her talent was rewarded with numerous successes at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, and nowadays she is often seen performing on stage as part of Crossharbour and Ceili- Max, as well as guesting with bands including Altan and The London Lasses.
Órlaith was brought up in North London and her parents are from Kerry.
The household was musical, with her mother playing accordion and whistle.
At an early age Órlaith learned to play the tin whistle and aged nine, her aunt Siobhán gave her a surprise present of a flute.
Órlaith taught herself the basics and continued to attend classes with Joe Searson in her local CCÉ branch.
An avid listener and student, the list of Órlaith’s influences reads like a pantheon of top musicians including Mary Bergin, Vinny Kilduff, Deirdre Havelin, Matt Molloy, Aoife Granville, Paul McGrattan, James Carty, Seamus Tansey, Louise Mulcahy, Mike Rafferty, Colm O’Donnell, Harry Bradley and Mike Mc- Goldrick.
A better list would be hard to imagine! Órlaith is an enthusiastic composer as well, composing when she’s busy and then relaxing and seeing what the inspiration has brought. She recalls composing her first tune when she was twelve years old, a hornpipe called Nicola McAuliffe’s Hornpipe and she composes reels, slides, polkas as well as slow tunes.
Karen Ryan of The London Lasses said: “Congratulations to brilliant London flautist, Órlaith McAuliffe, Winner of the 2016 TG4 Gradam Ceoil Young Musician of the Year. This is the first time someone from outside Ireland has won the award. It is very well deserved.”