Janis Ian honored with TradFest Lifetime Achievement Award

Ireland’s largest gathering of trad and folk music burst out onto stages and in venues across Dublin City and County today. Running from January 24-28 at venues across Dublin city centre & Fingal, TradFest presents a stellar line up of nationally and internationally renowned artists. 

The Festival was officially launched by Catherine Martin T.D., Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. The Minister attended a mini trad session in the Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle, performed by some of the artists who will take part in the festival over the next 5 days. 

The Minister also presented Folk Legends Janis Ian and Ralph McTell with Lifetime Achievement Awards. 

Minister Catherine Martin said “I am deeply honoured to present Janis Ian and Ralph McTell with a Lifetime Achievement Award for recognition of their immense contribution to music.  It is also wonderful to have them at this year’s TradFest.

Tradfest has become a key event in our cultural calendar. As the year turns, this annual event lights up the dark days of January and brings a sense of optimism and celebration, through the unique medium of cultural expression and live performance.

I’m heartened to see the festival growing year on year. At least 500 traditional and folk artists will be taking part this week, both established as well as new voices; and hundreds of technicians will be employed.  I’m also struck by the value the festival places on diversity and representation – not only including voices from across generations and communities, but a stated priority of equal gender representation. 

I wish the festival every success this year.”  

Janis Ian said, "the National Stadium is the first place I ever played in Ireland, and I find it miraculous that even though I can no longer sing, it will also let me come full circle by playing there one last time."

Ralph McTell said, “I am deeply honoured to receive this award from a country, culture and people that mean so much to me.”

As part of TradFest 2024 the festival will celebrate "Janis Ian - A Life Between the Lines," January 28 at the National Stadium, where legendary folk artist Janis Ian will talk about her life in a special evening event which has set the record as the fastest selling show in TradFest history. And while the event will not showcase singing by Ian due to vocal cord scarring, it will feature a rich program celebrating her vast contributions to music with performances of her work by Mary Black, Wallis Bird, Aoife Scott, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (Altan), Nuala Kennedy, Eric & Ulrika Bibb and rising stars Toshín and Séamus & Caoimhe Uí Fhlatharta. Janis Ian’s two other TradFest events, “In Conversation with Janis Ian” at the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre on January 25 and the screening of her documentary-in-progress “Janis Ian: Breaking Silence (working title)” at the Irish Film Institute on January 27, are also sold out.

TradFest will also honour another folk stalwart Ralph McTell, with a very special 80th birthday celebration concert on 25 January at the National Stadium. Ralph will be accompanied on the night by Folk Legend Tom Paxton, award-winning Irish music band Lúnasa, as well as actor/musician Camille O’Sullivan and singer songwriter Declan O’Rourke.

Both Janis and Ralph will also do public interviews with Lynette Fay at the Seamus Ennis Arts 

AnnMarie Farrelly Chief Executive of Fingal County Council commented: “We are really looking forward to welcoming acclaimed artists Janis Ian and Ralph McTell to the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre as part of Tradfest. The Centre is a unique and intimate performance space located in the beautiful rural setting of the Naul, named in honour of renowned uilleann piper, singer and collector Séamus Ennis and is just one of the beautiful performance spaces in Fingal that we are delighted to showcase during the extensive Tradfest programme over the coming days.” 


Among the artists taking part in TradFest will be:   An evening with Janis Ian featuring Mary Black, Wallis Bird, Nuala Kennedy, Eric & Ulrika Bibb, Séamus and Caoimhe Uí Fhlatharta, Toshín ; Ralph McTell, with Tom Paxton, Lúnasa , Declan O’Rourke & Camile O’Sullivan , Transatlantic Women featuring; Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Alison Brown, Aoife O’ Donovan, Eileen Ivers, The Friel Sisters, Edwina Guckian , Women of Note with Aoife Scott, Frances Black, Kaia Kater and Katherine Priddy, Julie Fowlis, Carlos Nunez, Lumiere, Mairtin O’Connor, Trio, Cathal Hayden, Seamie O’Dowd, Allison Russell, Stocktons Wing, Altan, Stephen Rea, Neil Martin & The West Ocean String Quartet, Louise & Michele Mulcahy, Phelim Drew & The Songs of Ronnie & The Dubliners, Kíla with Paul Frost Brass Band & Yankari, Paddy Keenan, Steo Wall , Niamh Dunne, Sharyn Ward, Liam O’Maonlaí, Freddie White, Brian Kennedy, Cathy Jordan & Feargal Murray, Gerry O’Connor, Maurice Lennon Trio, Laoise Kelly, Zoe Conway & John McEntyre, Strangeboy, Niamh Farrell & Varo, Cuas & Padraig Jack, The Raines, The Remedy Club, Niwel Tsumbu, Indeceltic featuring Anna Tanvir & Maninder Singh, Tara Breen, Padraig Rynne, & Jim Murray, Tony Byrne, Sive, Bríd Harper, Farah Elle, Síle Denver, Aisling Lyons, Niamh Bury, Shane Hennessy, Brenda Castles, The Deadlians, Bridgit Mae Power, Angelina Carbury, Tara Howely, Alanah Thornburgh, Oisin Morrisson, David Howley, Dublin Pride Trad Géilí, Wearegriot, I could read the Sky with Timothy O Grady 

This year will see TradFest greatly expand its musical footprint across the Dublin region with 28 concerts in historic Fingal. Performances will be held in a variety of intriguing venues including Malahide Castle, Swords Castle Chapel, The Millbank Theatre, Skerries Mill, Draíocht, Theatre and the iconic The Seamus Ennis Arts Centre, among others.

In keeping with the festival’s commitment to equity, diversity & inclusivity, TradFest 24 will again see a strong showing of women headline artists. During the festival an industry event will be held to share findings of a 3-year research project by academic, Emma Grove, looking at women’s participation in TradFest. This has helped to inform a toolkit which TradFest will share with other festivals that lays out ways they can work to improve gender representation and participation going forward. TradFest 24 will honour some true legends as well as introducing exciting new voices. It will feature an extended programme of artists for National Stadium concerts as well as a new TradFest musical commission by composer Neil Martin and performed by Actor, Stephen Rea commemorating the 170th anniversary of the tragic sinking of The RMS Tayleur, off Lambay Island, also known as the first Titanic.

The hugely popular Smithwick’s Sessions will return with over 50 free concerts across the pubs of Temple Bar featuring an impressive array of established and emerging artists such as Fin Furey, from the famous musical family, new folk legends Ispini Na hEireann, SuperCéilí, Fintan Warfield, Juggy Blonde featuring Faye O’Rourke from Soda Blonde & Aoife Kelly of Jiggy and lots more. In addition to the concerts, there will be music therapy workshops, a céilí, film screenings, panel discussions, outdoor markets, a record fair, family events at the Ark, pipe bands and more.