If you were watching RTÉ One on Friday night, I hope you enjoyed the Irish Country Music Awards. Initial reports suggest that over 550,000 people watched the show, which is way beyond expectations. As regular readers know, I caught the country music bug a few years ago and at €15 a head for a three-hour live performance, it’s a great value night out. However, admitting you enjoy country music hasn’t been fashionable or trendy to say the least. Indeed, I’ve regularly been on the receiving of piteous comments because of my fondness for it.

But no more. Friday night showed that country has gone mainstream and is attractive to all generations. This could be seen in the audience mix and in the range of artists who won awards. Big Tom, Gloria, Philomena Begley showed the young guns – Nathan Carter, Derek Ryan, Michael English and Lisa McHugh – how it’s done. Well done to all and you can read more on pages 34-37 or if you missed the show, catch up with it on the RTÉ Player.