Speech by Minister of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, at the Launch of Hard Working Class Heroes


Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here with you this evening and it was an honour for me to be asked to launch this year’s event.

Is é Comhdháil Cheoil HWCH an tionól is mó in Éirinn anois de dhaoine a dhéanann áirithintí, lipéid ceoil, gníomhairí, bainisteoirí, maoirseoirí ceoil, iriseoirí agus lucht raidió ó gach áit ar domhan, rud a fhágann gur ócáid thar a bheith tábhachtach í do thionscal cheol na hÉireann. Tagann go leor agaibh ar cuairt chuici arís agus arís eile, agus gabhaim buíochas libh thar ceann cheoltóirí na hÉireann.

All of us here tonight know the power of music. Whether it’s our national anthem or our favourite song, music can move the soul and reach parts of the human spirit that other media simply cannot.

It is for this reason that music is part of this Government’s ambitious new Global Ireland 2025 programme. Launched in June, that programme will help define Ireland’s global outlook for our own time and generations to come. It is a continuation of a dream for Ireland that has motivated Irish men and women for centuries.

Global Ireland 2025 sets out our path for global citizenship. The programme is made up of a number of initiatives including opening up new embassies and consulates around the world and expanding some of the ones that we have already; investing more in our agencies such as the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, and Tourism Ireland, building new air and sea connections, and; welcoming more International students to Ireland.

But the initiative that is closest to my heart and the one that should strike a chord here tonight is the ambition to share Ireland’s cultural offering around the world.

Each of the 50 Irish bands can take a well-deserved bow for taking part in this prestigious event. Each of you has aspirations to take your music and creativity to even higher heights and to audiences around the globe. You are to be applauded for that ambition.

Culture Ireland, a division of my Department, is committed to supporting Irish artists like you reach global audiences. The support it gives for incoming delegates to engage over this weekend is an important element of its funding programme as it allows artists to present their work at home and for it to be experienced in the environment which inspired their creativity.

Culture Ireland’s Showcase programme supports 30 events every year both at home and abroad and across art forms from theatre to literature, from circus to music – And it is very much committed to the continuing development of this programme in the years ahead.

On that note, I would like to extend a warm Irish welcome – Céad Míle Fáilte – to the 44 international delegates who have come from 15 countries to experience Irish talent. It represents the largest number of international delegates ever to attend.

We are joined by representatives from South by Southwest, Primevera, The Great Escape and Eurosonic to name just a few who have played such a major role in taking the story of Irish music around the globe.

In fact music supervisor Andrea Madden, who visited last year, featured 8 fantastic Irish artists on her Bafta award-winning TV show “Made In Chelsea”. As a result Irish musicians reached the ears of millions of UK listeners.

Other guests from different areas of the music industry have also contributed hugely through mentoring, acting as agents, and indeed broadcasting Irish bands on radio, TV and online. Your commitment is appreciated and has assisted in achieving deserved success for many young and emerging musicians in a challenging industry.

The presence of so many bookers and agents present here again is a testament to the talent we have in this country. That’s why events like this are so important. They allow us to maximise career opportunities for our musicians both at home and abroad.

Ireland’s music is a key element of our identity but as well as being an important element of how we express ourselves creatively, it is an important factor in our economy, contributing over €700 million in 2015 and employing over 13,000 in the music and music related industry.

Hard Working Class Heroes over its 16 years in existence has played a key role in achieving successful careers, notably for artists like Hozier who has had his recent EP celebrated on billboards in Times Square in recent weeks. He has come a long way since he too was one of the showcasing artists here in 2013.

Of course Hozier is not alone, other Hard Working Class Heroes alumni like The Coronas, Villagers, James Vincent McMorrow, Fontaines and Loah’s  successes on the international stage are testament to how important this weekend is for future opportunities.

I know I speak on behalf of everyone here when I thank First Music Contact led by Angela for the critical role it plays in arranging this event and its commitment to the business and professionalisation element of getting that art to market.

This weekend offers huge promise for so many talented musicians to gain contracts with agents, managers, labels and publishers. I urge you to make the most of this opportunity and grab it with both hands.

I’d like to leave you with a poem from Arthur O’Shaughnessy:

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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