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Limerick accordion player Derek Hickey to be awarded highest accolade in Traditional Irish Music



The spotlight shines on Limerick’s Derek Hickey as he is to be awarded the highest accolade in Tradition Irish Music as Gradam Ceoil TG4 2024 Musician of the Year.

Adare’s Derek Hickey awarded the highest accolade in Tradition Irish Music as Gradam Ceoil TG4 2024 Musician of the Year

Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí are also set to receive an award on the evening. Picture: Alan Place.

The spotlight shines on Limerick’s Derek Hickey as he is to be awarded the highest accolade in Tradition Irish Music as Gradam Ceoil TG4 2024 Musician of the Year.

Established in 1998, Gradam Ceoil TG4 recognises not just the artistry of awardees but also strives to amplify the success of the recipients and make their music, song and dance available to global audiences through broadcasts on TG4’s platforms.  

The selection process for Gradam Ceoil TG4 recipients is undertaken by an independent panel, some of whom are past awardees and all of whom play or work within the tradition.




Derek Hickey is from Adare in County Limerick. Both his grandfathers played fiddle and his own musical career began at the age of ten, when his uncle left an accordion in the family home. Derek progressed to dance tunes within weeks though he didn’t begin lessons – under the tutelage of Dónal de Barra – until he was 12. His professional career began three years later when he joined the Shannonside Céilí Band, founded by the Liddy family. The band toured extensively in England and throughout Europe.

In 1991 Frankie Gavin asked Derek to join him for regular sessions in his then leased hotel in Kinvara, Co. Galway. One year later, at just eighteen, Derek joined Arcady, Johnny ‘Ringo’ McDonagh’s band, along with Frances Black, Brendan Larrisey and Patsy Broderick.  Other guest members of this band included Sharon Shannon, Cathal Hayden and Gerry O’Connor.

Gradam  Ceoil TG4 - Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin. Picture: Alan Place.
Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin is another award recipient. Picture: Alan Place.

In 1995 he joined De Dannan, recording two albums and touring until they disbanded in 2003. Derek is the button accordion tutor on the BA Irish Music and Dance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick.

In 2023 he performed at the National Concert Hall Dublin, as part of the third series of the Irish Traditional Music Archive’s ‘Drawing from the Well’ series.  Widely acknowledged as one of Ireland’s most prominent and influential master accordion players, his eponymous 2022 album was deemed by fellow box player Dermot Byrne as “a recording of a pure genius”.

TG4 Commissioning Editor, Proinsias Ní Ghráinne, says, “ TG4 is delighted to be afforded this opportunity to recognise these stars that shine bright within our tradition.  Gradam is a token of gratitude from us to the many performances who grace our traditional music programs week in, week out.  We are delighted that we can help bring their music to global audiences through the live broadcast of Gradam Ceoil 2024 on TG4’s broadcast platforms.  Comhghairdeas leis na faighteoirí uilig.”

This year’s Gradam Ceoil TG4 concert takes place at The University Concert Hall in Limerick on Sunday May 5th. Broadcast live on TG4 and across the globe on the TG4 player, recipients will be joined by an array of musical guests and award presenters for a night of vibrant music, fun and entertainment.

The Gala concert and award ceremony will broadcast live on TG4 and from UCH on May 5th at 9:30pm.

Also receiving awards are Amhránaí TG4 2024 / Singer – Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin, Ceoltóir Óg TG4 2024 / Young Musician – Macdara Ó Faoláin, Gradam Saoil TG4 2024 / Lifetime Achievement – Jean Butler, Cumadóir TG4 2024 / Composer – Ryan Molloy, Grúpa Ceoil TG4 2024 / Music Group – The Kane Sisters, Gradam Comaoine TG4 2024 / Outstanding Contribution – Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí.

Tickets available at Gradam Ceoil TG4 tickets

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