Patrick Finley shows a gift for music. He plays fiddle, piano, a traditional Irish drum, guitar and flute. He enjoys playing in a number of different styles, but his focus is on traditional Irish music.

Patrick became interested in Irish music at an early age through his mother’s side of the family. His uncles both play the Irish fiddle and his aunts both play the Irish flute. At age 6, Patrick joined the Atlanta Irish Music School and became the youngest member of the Atlanta Junior Ceili Band, an Irish music group affiliated with the school, according to a press release.

Patrick Finley.

Patrick was so dedicated to becoming a better musician that he sought out Irish fiddler Oisin Mac Diarmada for lessons over Skype. Mac Diarmada, from Sligo, has won world championships. He is also an internationally known recording artist and teacher. This is also the first time that Oisin has taught a student over Skype, rather than in person.

Patrick’s work paid off. Last year, he was one of just a few Americans to receive a first place award at an annual Irish music competition held in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland. He took first place in the 15-18 Irish fiddle contest at the All-Ireland World Music competition, which attracts musicians, singers, and dancers who have previously placed in competitions around the world.

“I am very proud of Patrick,” Mac Diarmada said. “He is a wonderful young man and he gave a fantastic performance at the competition. Patrick is developing his own style of Irish music, something that the judges look for in a competition of this standard.”

Along with being one of five Americans to win an award at the competition, Patrick is also the first All-Ireland Champion from Atlanta. Winning this competition has given him a sense of accomplishment and has helped motivate him to keep improving his music and to spread Irish culture wherever he goes.

When asked about the competition Patrick said, “It is always an excellent experience to see so many of my friends and hear so much great music.”

What’s next?
Patrick plans to play music throughout his life. He also has an interest in engineering, computer science and business. He doesn’t yet know where he’ll attend university, but he does know that he would like to major in mechanical engineering or computer science.

This article was prepared by Anna Thomas, a senior at Riverwood International Charter School.