Showcase Winners 2023

Ballyshannon Folk and Traditional Music Festival is delighted to announce the winners of it’s recent Showcase Competion with entries open under two categories, groups and solo artists. A large number of entries were received from all over Ireland and as far away as Australia.  Competing for a total cash prize fund and the winners in each category will be performing as part of the line-up to this year’s 46th anniversary festival, live in the marquee, playing alongside names like the legendary Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Paddy Casey, George Murphy, Dan McCabe, Frankie Gavin and De Dannal and The Rapparees.  The Showcase has always been an important aspect to the festival as a platform for new and emerging talent on the Folk and Traditional Music scene. Congratulations to our winners – Solo Muireann Bradley (Friday 4th Aug at 8pm) and Group winners Music Generation Laois Trad Orchestra (Sat 5th Aug at 7.30pm), highly recommended were a group from Australia – Austral Trad who will perform on our Street Gig on Saturday 5th August at 2pm – this is now your opportunity to be part of the longest running Folk & Traditional Music Festival in the world!

Muireann Bradley is a 16 year old finger picking guitar player & singer from County Donegal. She performs Country Blues & Ragtime Blues from the 1920s & 30s, also Folk, Roots and Americana. She grew up with her father listening to these old records and playing and singing the music himself. When she was nine years old she asked him to teach her to play and so her love of guitar began. During the covid lockdowns she decided to start posting videos on You Tube, the first of which was her rendition of Blind Blake’s “Police Dog Blues”. It received a lot of attention, it’s now had 80,000 views. She was soon contacted by Josh Rosenthal of Tompkins Square Records and he suggested she record an album which is now due for release in 2024 entitled “I kept these old blues”.

Music Generation Laois Trad Orchestra

The Music Generation Laois Trad Orchestra was established in 2016 to provide a platform for the strong interest in traditional music among young people in Co. Laois. In 2016, the orchestra collaborated with Composer Martin Tourish to create a new suite of music ‘1916 Visions and Voices’ funded by the Laois 2016 Community Fund, Per Cent for Art through Laois County Council and the Music Generation Arts Council Partnership.  ‘Visions and Voices’ was premiered on the 22 of May 2016, as part of the Music Generation Laois New Works Series, to unprecedented public response! This music has since been performed at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Ennis 2016, and for audiences that include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Prince Albert of Monaco (2017). ‘Visions and Voices’ has also been recorded and launched in CD format.

The Music Generation Laois Trad Orchestra is directed by Siobhan Buckley. The Orchestra has collaborated with many well-known musicians including Chris Stout and Catriona McKay; Zoe Conway and John McIntyre, Ernestine Healy, Michael Rooney and composed new music ‘Loinnir Laoise’ in collaboration with Ryan Molloy (2018). Most recently, the Music Generation Laois Trad Orchestra once again collaborated with Martin Tourish to create ‘The Impossible Dream’ (2021) a suite of music celebrating the life-time achievements of Portlaoise Aviator Colonel James Fitzmaurice, co-funded by Creative Ireland Laois, via Laois County Council. The Orchestra have performed on the main stage at the Festival Headquarters in Collins Barracks, Dublin on St Patrick’s Day as part of the St Patrick’s Festival (2022 & 2023), Forest Fest (2023), The PanCeltic Festival (2023), Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann (2022), and in 2022, members of the Orchestra travelled to Brittany, France to perform at the Breizh PanCeltic Festival.


Winners of Traditional Folk Album of the Year at the 2022 Australian Folk Music Awards, Austral will transport you into full festival party mode. They are a high-energy, four-piece Australian Celtic group combining didgeridoo, Irish pipes, high energy fiddling, journeying songs and energetic foot percussion. Whether you see them on stage or at the session afterward, Austral will get your festival going. HUP!

Austral features Angus Barbary on fiddle, vocals and mandola, Caity Brennan on fiddle and vocals, Rhys Crimmin on guitar, percussion, didgeridoo and vocals, and Connor Hoy on Uilleann pipes, flute and whistle. Austral’s music is infectiously toe-tapping and you may find it hard to resist the urge to get up and dance yourself. They have developed their own high-energy live stage sound and have a debut album hot off the press. Austral are carving a new face for Celtic music in Australia and are a band not to be missed.

Austral have recently released their debut album ‘Thylacine’, to widespread acclaim, winning them an AFMA and a nomination for the Music Victoria Awards. They are hitting the festival scene, ready to start a few festival dance parties.