Tribute to Nicky and Anne McAuliffe

In 1987 Killarney hosted the Kerry Fleadh Cheoil for the first time. One of the highlights of the week was a tribute concert for Nicholas and Anne McAuliffe. What a memorable night that was, with the large concert hall in the Great Southern Hotel packed to the rafters (or ‘lán go bruach’ as we would say as Gaeilge) for the occasion. The atmosphere was electric with a veritable who’s who of Kerry musicians gracing the stage. The finale saw Nicky and Anne centre stage, surrounded by over 20 of their past pupils, every one of them an All-Ireland Champion, playing a brilliant set of tunes, many of them tunes that these musicians had learned from Nicky and Anne many years earlier.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about that concert was that it was the first time the musicians of Kerry had had a chance to pay tribute to these two master musicians.

Twelve years later it’s almost like the phrase about the busses – you wait all day for a bus and then suddenly two of them come along in one after the other. It has been that kind of year for the McAuliffes

On Sunday February 17th Nicky and Anne were finally given national recognition when they were awarded the TG4 Gradam Cheoil lifetime achievement award  in Belfast before an appreciative audience, many of whom had travelled all the way from Kerry to support their heroes. As Nicky said in his acceptance speech it was like winning two All-Star awards for Kerry. And never was an award more richly deserved, honouring the enormous work done by Nicky and Anne over many decades passing on Ireland’s traditional music to thousands of pupils all over Kerry, Cork and Limerick, doing workshops at the Scoil Éigse at All-Ireland  Fleadhanna Cheoil and also training young musicians to perform in Siamsa Tíre.

And, like the busses, just two months later  on Monday April 15th came another award. This time it was Kerry County Council who put politics and administration aside when all parties joined together to honour Nicky and Anne at a Civic Reception in the Council Chambers in Tralee.  2019, then, was the year in which Nicky and Anne McAuliffe were finally given the recognition, county-wide and nationally for the magnificent work they have done over the years in keeping Kerry and Ireland’s music alive and well for future generations to enjoy.

Go maire siad an chéad, ag casadh ceoil aoibhinn Chiarraí  agus ‘á choimeád beo do óige na tíre.