Toe-tapping pictures from the 2024 Northern Ireland Country Music Awards

Hundreds of country music fans from all over Ireland and the UK gathered in the Armagh City Hotel for the annual Northern Ireland Country Music Awards.

The awards, now in their fourth year, are seen as one of the biggest events in the country music calendar in Northern Ireland with more than 35 artists performing on the night.

The publicly voted awards recognise and pay tribute to the finest country artists from Northern Ireland, including the current leading stars, legends and upcoming new performers.

Hosts Malcolm McDowell; Big T, Downtown and Hugo Duncan, BBC welcomed the audience and the artistes took to the stage to showcase their talents, backed by the talented six-piece house band led by musical director Mark Vaughan.

The award categories and the winners were announced in between performances, alongside presentations to a variety of country music legends.

Nine-year-old Amber Campbell from Armagh was the youngest performer on the night and also walked away with Female Newcomer Award.

The Ryandale Hotel, Moy Dungannon won Best Live Music Venue for the second consecutive year.

Fermanagh resident Derek Ryan for the third consecutive year won a hat trick of awards, including the top prize of Best Male with 80% of the public vote, Best Album (Pure and Simple) and best Songwriter.

Tyrone country star Cliona Hagan who wasn’t present but sent her best wishes via video, won both best Female Artiste and most glamorous Female Artiste categories.

The Tumbling Paddies who performed at the 2023 NICMA’S won Best Single 2024 with their debut hit single “Just the way I am”.

The RTE Late Late Toy Show star 15-year-old Caillin Joe from Creggan outside Omagh picked up the best music video and the coveted Brian Coll Male Newcomer Award.

Billy McFarland BEM, 88 from Ahoghill, who celebrates an unbelievable 70 years entertaining, delighted everyone with his performance of ‘Gentle Mother’. Billy was inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside Philomena Begley and the late Brian Coll.

BBC Radio Ulster’s Hugo Duncan was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his 50-plus years to the music industry by Big T, Downtown Country and Malcolm McDowell. A surprise second award also went to Hugo, when the biggest ego category was announced.

Armagh’s very own country and showband star Eileen King, known as the sweetheart of country music was officially recognised for her Contribution to Country Music.

Ireland’s first lady of country Susan McCann was made ambassador of the publicly voted awards.

The awards always invite and celebrate a small number of very special guest performers from the Republic of Ireland. This year it was the newly inducted RTE Hall of Fame recipient Declan Nerney who performed one of his biggest hits describing his rise to fame ‘The Marquee in Drumlish’.

Margo O’Donnell was given a standing ovation as she made her way to the stage and again after her performance, Margo who celebrates 60 years this year in the business, was officially thanked and presented for her immense contribution by the NICMAs.

Every year the NICMAs chose a local charity to benefit from voluntary donations from patrons on the night and £2,250 was raised for the Southern Area Hospice in Newry.