Success for Derry Irish traditional music group

'CONNLA' - pictured from left to right, Ciaran Carlin, Emer Mallon, Paul Starrett, Ciara McCafferty and Conor Mallon.

'CONNLA' - pictured from left to right, Ciaran Carlin, Emer Mallon, Paul Starrett, Ciara McCafferty and Conor Mallon.

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A Derry and Armagh Irish traditional music group recently scooped two top music awards.

‘Connla’, named after the son of Irish mythical hero Cù Chullain, was named Best New Group for 2016 during two separate award ceremonies; Live Ireland and Chicago Irish American News.

Three of the band’s members, Ciara McCafferty, Paul Starrett and Ciaran Carlin are from Derry and the remaining two members, Connor Mallon and his sister Emer are from Armagh.

“I was really shocked and surprised when I heard we had won not one but two awards,” said ‘Connla’ singer, Ciara McCafferty.

“We didn’t enter either of the competitions - we don’t know who, but someone sent in a copy of our EP and the rest is history.

“It’s an absolute privilege for us to be considered for an award never mind win.”

‘Connla’ released their first EP in the Culturlann in Derry last summer and will start work on their debut album next month.

“Winning the two awards is a great reward for all of the hard work we have been putting in,” said Ciara.

“I hope 2016 will be a big year for us. We will start recording the new album next month in Portglenone - we are all really excited.

“Around about 90 per cent of the music that will be on the new album has been composed by us.”

The group formed less than a year ago but since that time they have been busy practising and getting their name out there.

“We sold out the Culturlann last year when we released our first ever EP - we are so thankful for all of the support we have received so far,” said Ciara.

“The group will celebrate its first birthday in the not too distant future - it’s hard to be believe it’s been almost a year.

“We will also be performing at the Derry International Music Festival next month - that’s going to be great and we are all looking forward to it.”

Ciara is a full-time singer but also works part-time as a youth worker. Ciara said winning the awards was the perfect start to the New Year.

“We are all aged between 24 and 29 and we are enjoying the music that we are doing. The awards have come at a great time and I think it will propel us on to bigger and better things for 2016 - well here’s hoping anyway,” said Ciara.

‘Connla’ will be performing during the Derry International Music Festival in The Quays on February 5 from 9pm to 11pm and in the Abercorn Bar on February 6 from 9pm to 11pm.

For more information on the group visit their website www. connlamusic.com