A Dalmellington-born musician has claimed a top award celebrating Irish traditional music.

Frank McArdle won the Outstanding Contribution Award (Gradam Comaoine) 2023 at the Gradam Ceoil Awards.

The annual Gradam Ceoil Awards, also known as ‘the Oscars of traditional music’, pay tribute to musicians who have advanced, strengthened, and preserved traditional music in Ireland and throughout the world. 

Cumnock Chronicle: Frank McArdle with two of his daughters, Siobhán (on fiddle) and Patricia (on flute).Frank McArdle with two of his daughters, Siobhán (on fiddle) and Patricia (on flute). (Image: TG4 Communications)

Held at the University Concert Hall in Limerick on Sunday, April 23, Frank will be awarded for his lifetime of work.

Having grown up in Dalmellington, Frank moved to Glasgow and worked as a maths teacher in St Roch’s Secondary School, where he founded a céilí band for students – the St Roch’s Ceilí Band – in 1978. 

Frank's Irish heritage comes through his grandparents, who hailed from Antrim, Sligo and Monaghan.

As a musician, Frank plays the piano accordion, fiddle and guitar, and was inspired by Irish traditional musicians such as fiddle player Sean McGuire, button accordionist Joe Burke and The Bothy Band.

Cumnock Chronicle: Frank McArdle with St Roch's Céilí Band, GlasgowFrank McArdle with St Roch's Céilí Band, Glasgow (Image: TG4 Communications)

 As a member of his local Comhaltas branch, The Irish Minstrels, he began to introduce his pupils from the school céilí band to the Comhaltas lessons, céilís and fleadhanna.

He later took on the running of the branch and moved its classes to St Roch’s Secondary School - where it is still based.

Frank is now chairman of the branch and facilitates its lessons and entries to fleadhanna across Britain and in Ireland.

The branch has 30 tutors, who learned their music at the classes and are happy to teach on a voluntary basis.  

At the awards ceremony on April 23, Frank will be joined by a fantastic grouping of St Roch's musicians to fly the flag for Scotland on the night.