Post Primary

Siansa Gael Linn Music Competition


We have made four different attempts to organise Craobh Siansa 2020 since the beginning of this pandemic. Unfortunately, for reasons well known to all, each of these efforts came to nought. The regular changing of restrictions made it impossible to come to an arrangement that suited everyone and many of the groups had major difficulties with each of our efforts.
Regrettably, our latest effort has also come unstuck with the whole country moving to Level 3. Some groups have members from different counties which makes it impossible for them to get together to practice, amongst other unavoidable difficulties.
Therefore, to remove all the stress and uncertainty from the situation we have today come to a decision to postpone Craobh Siansa 2020 until such a time as the National Concert Hall, or a venue of similar standing, becomes available to host it. It may well be mid 2021 before we get the go-ahead but that is beyond our control. As we all know, events such as An tOireachtas, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann and hundreds of other musical events have had to be cancelled also and at this stage the most important thing for us is to ensure that everyone is safe and healthy and ready to get back to playing music as soon as it is safe to do so.
For all of the reasons above, and especially because groups would not be able to come together to practice or to record their entry between now and Christmas we have decided not to go ahead with Siansa 2021.
We wish you all the best for the next few months until we meet again at Craobh Siansa 2020. Stay safe and feel free to contact us at anytime!

Mairéad Ní Neachtain
Riarthóir Siansa


1. Click on the REGISTER button to take you to the application form.
2. Complete the form online.
3. Select your method of payment and fill in details.
4. Click on the SEOL/SUBMIT button to forward the application to us.

If you have any problems with the application form please contact Mairéad Ní Neachtain at 087.3593957

 Siansa is one of the country’s most prestigious competitions for young traditional Irish music and singing groups. Organised by Gael Linn with support from RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta and Irish Music Magazine, Siansa provides a platform for talented teenage groups who aim to emulate groups such as Téada, Altan, Danú etc. While Siansa is essentially a competition, the groups are helped and encouraged along the way by highly regarded traditional musicians. The event is run entirely through the medium of Irish.


*Please read the rules/conditions of participation below carefully! Then make sure to complete the entry form at the top of the page and pay the relevant fee ( €20/£20 per group ) by 30 October 2020. You will receive an acknowledgment of the entry by email.


*Groups are required to record an imaginatively arranged 10 to 12 minute continuous programme of traditional music, together with one song in Irish on CD, MP3 or WAV. (See link to video of SIANSA GAEL LINN 2019 winners on this page.)

*The deadline for receipt of recordings is Tuesday, 8 December 2020. After entering the competition, guidelines will be issued to each group leader/teacher in due course regarding the submission of CDs, MP3 or WAV files to Gael Linn. A form must be completed with information about the group at this time, and recordings will not be accepted without this document.

(Groups are advised to keep a copy of their recording in case of loss or damage in transit. No recordings will be returned by Gael Linn.)

*It is important that the recording be of such standard as to enable the adjudicator to hear and assess the music/song - but a professional studio recording is not necessary.

Groups should ensure that:

(a) every instrument is in tune
(b) there is a good sound balance between the different instruments
(c) each singer and every instrument is audible

*When putting the programme together, groups are advised to incorporate all the various elements of music i.e. rhythm, phrasing, chords, notes, etc. to create imaginative links between the tunes/song. ~New arrangements of old tunes ( reels, jigs, hornpipes, barn dances, slides, slow airs etc. ) or newly-composed pieces in the traditional style, are acceptable. The emphasis should always be on the traditional music of Ireland, and a balance struck between tradition and innovation when choosing and arranging the tunes~

*The song is an important element of the programme (25 marks out of 100) and due time and consideration should be given to sourcing and arranging one that complements the group and the selection of music. Traditional songs in Irish (and lesser known songs in particular), old poems set to newly-composed airs, or newly-composed Irish songs in the traditional style are acceptable. Songs translated into Irish, however, are not allowed. ( Click HERE for further notes regarding the song )

*There are no restrictions regarding musical instruments in the competition ( but they should be appropriate to the music ! )

*Dancing is not permitted as part of the performance – only music and singing will be considered.

*Groups are advised not to copy/imitate the musical arrangements of other groups, either professional traditional groups or previous participants in this competition.


All recordings will be listened to by a recognised musician whose written critique will be forwarded to each group. The groups who have been chosen, depending on their standard, to go forward to the second round of the competition - the workshops - will be announced in early January 2021. Certificates will be awarded to the groups who are not selected.


The groups who have progressed through the first round will attend a workshop on one day during the month of March 2021in one of four venues throughout the country, providing that it is safe and permissible to have gatherings of at least 50 people. Every effort will be made to organize venues as central as possible for the participating groups. The workshops will be conducted entirely through Irish by well-known traditional musicians/singers who will offer help and advice to all the groups on various aspects of their performance ( i.e. choice of tunes/song, arrangements, accompaniment, voice projection etc. )

Eight groups will be chosen from among the groups who have participated in the workshops to contest the final.
Musical and singing competency, along with potential, will be taken into consideration when the selection is being made. ( See Rule 7 below ). Certificates will be awarded to groups who are not selected.


The SIANSA GAEL LINN 2021 Final will be held in the National Concert Hall, Dublin on Sunday, 2 May 2021. RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta will broadcast the concert live. 

*Depending on restrictions in 2021 parts of the competition may have to be held online.


The winning group will receive a prize of €2,500 together with the Gael Linn Trophy.

Second prize is €1,250 and third prize €750.

Every musician who takes part in the final receives a memento of the occasion.


A small travel allowance is paid as appropriate to groups taking part in the Siansa final. Travel arrangements must, however, be made by the groups themselves.


As a guideline, the following marking system will be used by the adjudicators throughout the competition (advice, rather than marks, will be given to each group).







Instrumental playing skills/tuning



 *Music Choice/Arrangement



 Ensemble playing/Presentation 












*See note regarding choice of music above ~



(*Gael Linn will have the final decision in the event of a dispute arising regarding interpretation of rules/conditions of participation or any other element of the competition)

1. All correspondence with Gael Linn regarding Siansa should be in Irish.

2. Young people taking part in Siansa must be over 12 and under 19 years of age on 1st January 2021.

3. It is a condition of participation in Siansa that an adult mentor of 23 years or older be in charge of each group.

-This is an essential requirement in order to facilitate and ensure distribution of information regarding Siansa among, and also the gathering of information from the group members, or to seek information on their behalf.

-Most of the correspondence will be by email, and it is essential, therefore, that the address is clear on the initial entry form. No private contact details (e-mail or telephone number) will be shared with a third party.

In the event that the named mentor is no longer available, the group must agree a new mentor and forward all relevant contact details to Gael Linn. Of course, groups may have a music teacher independent of the mentor, but it is with the mentor only that Gael Linn will correspond or deal with regarding any aspect of the group’s participation in the competition)

4. There are three stages in the selection process:

i) An adjudicator listens to recordings and chooses groups for the workshops

ii) Workshops at which 8 groups will be chosen to contest the All-Ireland Final

iii) The All-Ireland Final in the National Concert Hall

5. There is no limit to the number of groups a school/club or other may enter in Siansa.

6. Each group must have between 6 and 8 members throughout the competition.

6.1 Group members do not have to be associated with a particular school, club or organization - i.e. friends can enter as a group.

6.2 It is the named group members who can be heard on the recording at 4 i) above who are counted as

members of the original group.

6.3 Musicians/singers are allowed to participate Siansa with their original group only.

6.4 In the event of illness, examinations or for any other reason, however, one change is allowed, either

temporary or permanent, in the personnel of a group throughout the whole process.

-For example, a new member could be added to the group ( where a group has only 6 or 7 original members ), the group members could be reduced by one ( but not fall below the required minimum of 6 ), or a substitute could be put in place of a member on a temporary or permanent basis, for the workshop or at the Final.

-Any temporary or permanent substitute or new member must comply with Rule 2, and of course, no musician/singer who has been a member of another group at any stage of the current competition may be used as a substitute, even if that group is no longer in the competition ( see 6.3 above).

7. Only groups ( see Rule 6 ) who have qualified through the selection process at i) and ii) (see Rule 4 above ) will be allowed to participate in the Siansa final. Where the original group is unable to forward to the next stage of the competition, the adjudicators shall nominate the next highest placed from the workshops ( 4 ii) to take their place.

8. The final decision regarding the prizewinners rests with the adjudicators, and no correspondence with be entered into.

9. RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta retains the rights to the first broadcast of all recordings of the groups taking part in Siansa. Gael Linn may record the groups and use these recordings thereafter as the organisation wishes.

10. Gael Linn reserves the right to use any photographic or video material recorded at Gael Linn events in future publicity with the prior consent of the group mentors.


Gael Linn Public Liability Insurance Policy covers all of our events. At these events, however, Gael Linn is a facilitator rather than a supervisor and students must at all times be under the supervision of an adult*.

(see Rule 3)  

First Place (€2500): ‘FINSCÉAL’, Co. Limerick

Second Place ( €1250 ): ‘LÉARGAS’, Co. Tipperary

Third Place ( €750 ):  ‘SIAR’, Co. Mayo



Mairéad Ní Neachtain, Gael Linn

01.6753303 or 087.3593957 R-phost: