Sarah McQuaid Presented with Lifetime Achievement Award

Sarah McQuaid at Ards Guitar Festival 2017 (Image: Nurse Ratched Photography)

Sarah McQuaid Presented with Lifetime Achievement Award

Award presented to the folk guitarist at the 20th Ards Guitar Festival.

Folk guitarist Sarah McQuaid has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Ards Guitar Festival, an annual festival of guitar music presented by the Ards and North Down Borough Council. Taking place over five days in early April, it featured performances from Irish and international artists, as well as workshops and tours of the Avalon Guitar Factory. 

Past winners of the Festival’s Lifetime Achievement award include Davey Graham, John Martyn, Arty McGlynn, Martin Simpson and Martin Carthy. Sarah McQuaid is the first woman to ever win the award, which was presented by BBC Radio Ulster broadcaster Ralph McLean and Festival Director Ernie McMillen.

Commenting on the award, McQuaid said,

Never in a million years did I think it would go to me. I was totally and completely floored. It’s a very, very big deal to be placed on a level with so many of my musical heroes.

Ards Arts Centre’s Emily Crawford, co-director of the festival along with McMillen and Darren Porter, commented that ‘Sarah has a true gift and captivates the audience with seamless playing and an effortlessly enchanting voice… She and her guitar become one beautiful sound.’ McMillen agrees: ‘I get to see many specialist guitarists up close… it’s honey for the soul to witness Sarah McQuaid perform.’

McQuaid is currently based in England, though she lived in Ireland for 13 years, and released her first album, When Two Lovers Meet, during that time. She is now working on her fifth album, to be released on the Waterbug label in 2018, along with a follow-up to her book The Irish DADGAD Guitar Book, a tutor for playing using the open tuning style. In addition to a solo performance at this year’s festival, McQuaid also gave an introductory workshop on playing with this tuning.

For more about Sarah McQuaid, visit

Published on 18 April 2017

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