12 July 2020
By Tom Collins
Musician and Composer, Peadar Ó Riada has been named as Cork Person of the Month for June 2020. The award marks Peadar’s contribution to Irish culture as a composer, musician, choir director and broadcaster.
Peadar’s interest in music began at a young age, as he was inspired by his father, Seán Ó Riada, who was one of the most influential figures in the revival of Irish traditional music during the 1960s. Peadar graduated from University College Cork with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1976. After his graduation, he spent a few years as teacher, co-op manager, festival director, commercial beekeeper, broadcaster and educator. He has lived his life in Cúil Aodha, near the Cork-Kerry border, where he raised his family with his wife Geraldine Moloney.
Over the years he has performed with many different groups. In 2008, he performed with the traditional Irish group, Triúr (with Martin Hayes and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh), in 2013 with the traditional group The Drôle (with John Kelly and Eamon McGivney), and in 2014 with Continuing Traditions (with Wajahat Khan). He has been taking his father, Seán Ó Riada’s, place at the keyboards and directing Ceoltóirí Chualan since 1971. He also regularly performs in a duet with Seán Ó Sé.
The contributions that Peadar has made during his career have been invaluable to the traditional music community, at both a local and national level. In 1986, he founded the all-female choir Cór Ban Cúil Aodha. He founded the traditional University Acadamh Fódhla in 2000, the Irish Cultural trust Iontaoibheas Fódhla in 1999, and in 2011 the international festival “Féile na Laoch” commemorating his late father Seán Ó Riada. Peadar has also acted as Director of Cór Cúil Aodha since September 1971. His work has given more people opportunities to pursue traditional Irish music and acquaint themselves with the traditions.
Peadar has also composed extensively for Cór Cúil Aodha and has accumulated a large body of liturgical and secular works for Male Voiced Choir in the Irish traditional idiom. His compositions for Female choir are polyphonic and include several large works, as well as choral arrangements for traditional Irish songs. His body of traditional Irish Dance music compositions has made its way into the mainstream of Irish music and are recorded by many artists in this genre.
Speaking on his success Peadar said, “It’s great to be recognised by the people of Cork who have supported me throughout my career. Irish traditional music is my passion and I am thankful that I have been able to do what I love every day.” Ó Riada has also been working on his autobiography over a number of years and says “It’s my intention to be very frank in it – so there’s a lot of stuff in it.”
Awards Organiser Manus O’Callaghan said, “Peadar Ó Riada’s own contribution to the Cork cultural and artistic scene has been wide reaching. Of course, you can’t mention the O’Riada family name, without thinking of Mise Eire. The emotional energy of that piece of music is deeply affecting in Ireland. Indeed many feel it should be our National Anthem.”
Peadar Ó Riada’s name will now go forward for possible selection as Cork Person of the Year at an awards lunch on January 15th next at Rochestown Park Hotel. Sponsors of the awards scheme are the Irish Examiner/The Echo; RTE; Southern; Lexus Cork; AM O’Sullivan PR; Cork Crystal; Tony O’Connell Photography; CAVS; Musgrave MarketPlace.