Carlow singer and songwriter Derek Ryan brings it all back home with his new single, Thank God for the Farmers. It is a salute to the people who are always out there doing their jobs when other strands of economic activity grind to a halt.
“I think the pandemic focussed our minds in a whole new way on the really important professions and right up there in the top league has to be the farmers. It brought us all back to basics and what we need to survive. The farmers are the people who provide the food for our tables. This is where I drew inspiration from for this song,” says Derek.
The lyrics serenade the year-round work by farmers who toil away from the limelight doing some of the most important work of all.
“It took a storm to show us, shelter can be found. Thank God for the Farmers, nobody’s working harder. Let’s hear it for the Farmers who keep us fed and watered, these crazy days when I kneel and pray, you’ll hear me say, Thank God for the Farmers.”
The new song was co-written with Eoin Glacken from Dublin. “I have written a good few songs with Eoin and a load of them look set to be recorded by other singers as well, including Olivia Douglas and Claudia Buckley who are working on some already.”
No stranger to the farming community, Derek is a popular act at the Balmoral Show, the National Ploughing Championships and is a regular headliner at events for the Young Farmers Clubs.
“Growing up in Garryhill in south Carlow, I was surrounded by farming and farmers. We were not a farming family ourselves but the entire feel of the place is based around the land, crops and livestock.
“It was a big beet growing area back in the days when the Sugar Factory was a big employer in Carlow. Nowadays, barley, wheat and other crops dominate the landscape.
“The land is very good around home and the Ploughing Championships were staged just two miles from my home place. I was on the main stage doing a show with Mount Leinster in the background and thinking, this is as close as I’m going to get to home for such a really big gig.”
Looking back, looking forward
Derek has penned numerous songs including full albums of his own material over the last decade. When asked which songs stand out in a special way, he opts for two that are especially close to his heart.
“Life Is A River was never a single but it has proven to be one of my most popular album tracks. It has attained a kind of magic at my concerts where you can hear a pin drop and people sing along with the chorus.
“I think the video actually made the song. We shot it down home in Carlow and it is my favourite video of them all. Dan Murphy, a local actor from Kildavin, played the part of the old man in it and he just nailed it. He was absolutely brilliant and I told him he should be over in Hollywood. Dan is renowned locally for the parts he has done in plays over the years.
“Hold On To Your Hat has over 5m views on YouTube and over 3m streams on Spotify. That came along at the right time. I suppose everyone needs a song every now and again to get them up the next rung of the ladder and I think that did it for me in 2014. It brought me up to where I needed to be.”
A concert tour has been arranged for the first three months of 2022 and Derek can hardly wait to get out on the road again.
“All the plans are in place for the countrywide tour and I hope that we might be able to do a few dates later this year as well. I have a new album ready to go in September so the focus is now very much on getting out there again. I feel people are just longing to return to normal life and doing what they love best.”
Aoife Leonard has her sights firmly set on a career in country music. The young Clare girl, who has just completed her studies at Gort Community School, is overwhelmed with the response to her new single, I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes.
“I first heard it by Big Tom and The Mainliners on the Sky 365 Spotlight country channel and loved the song. The response to my recording of it has been amazing and messages have poured in from all over Ireland, England and Scotland since my video of the song aired on the country channel a couple of weeks ago,” says Aoife.
“People have been so encouraging and the song is getting great airplay on Midwest Radio (Mayo), Ocean FM (Sligo-Leitrim-Donegal), Radio Kerry, Clare FM, South East Radio, Tipp Midwest as well as on several internet stations and others as well.
“With school days over now I am so much looking forward to doing what I love best – singing and recording traditional country music. Over the next few months I intend to record songs for my debut album which I plan to release at the end of April 2022.