Louise Morrissey has always been a country girl at heart. Her parents were farming people on the outskirts of Bansha in Tipperary, close to the famous Glen of Aherlow.

She began her music career as part of the family folk and ballad group The Morrissey’s and in 1988, Louise decided to travel down the country road. Now, 35 years later, she has just embarked on her first ever concert tour.

“When I was in my mid-20s, I found myself being drawn more and more to the country music side of things,” she says when talking to Country Sound from sunny Tipperary.

“I loved the ballad scene – I still do – and I always include some of the great ballads in my concert shows,” she adds.

“It was around the time I really got into the music of people like Emmylou Harris that country music won me over. I also had a huge respect for the ladies in Irish country music at the time,” she continues.

After launching her band in Barry’s Hotel, Dublin in March 1988, they had some wonderful years on the dancing circuit playing shows all over Ireland, England and Scotland.

Glittering highlights

Louise can look back with pride on an amazing journey in those 35 years. She recalls some of the special highlights of a glittering career in country music.

“I had the privilege of being invited to join the Queens of Country tour in Ireland a good many years ago with the great Philomena Begley and Jennie Seeley from the Grand Ole Opry along with Billie Joe Spears and Lynn Anderson,” she says with a smile.

“Doing guest spots with people I was in awe of, like Charley Pride and Kris Kristofferson, was a fantastic experience.”

Other highlights for Louise include winning the European Country Gold Star Award in 1990 and singing in Croke Park during the interval of the 1988 All-Ireland Hurling Final.

“That was also an amazing experience to lead the Tipperary crowd in my rendition of Slievenamon. Unfortunately for us, Galway defeated us in the final that day but we got our own back the next year when edging them in a great semi-final,” she adds with a laugh.

The Tipperary factor is much to the fore in her appreciation of her neighbour, Nick McCarthy, who has written some of her most iconic songs.

Living next door to her homeplace in Bansha, Louise credits Nick for her success with some of his great songs such as Tipperary on My Mind, Flying Home to Aherlow, The Night Daniel O’Donnell Came to Town, Another Day and I Miss the Roses.

“Nick was part of a brilliant duo with another neighbour, Sam O’Doherty, who sadly died in 2018,” Louise explains.

“Sam was a wonderful entertainer and he is greatly missed on the circuit. He was loved by so many people and was a mighty Tipperary man,” she says of her neighbour.

The last decade has seen Louise switch to the concert circuit, performing numerous guest spots around the country and also touring the UK with Foster and Allen and Dominic Kirwan. She is thrilled to be fronting her own tour over the coming months.

With 14 shows on the list, she is delighted with the response of the first three shows in Ballybunion, Mitchelstown and Portlaoise.

Next up is the Shearwater in Ballinasloe on 22 June, the McWilliam Hotel in Claremorris on 6 July, and the Woodlands Hotel in Waterford on 12 July.

After a break for the summer, they return to the perform in Ennis on 14 September up until December.

“I have different guests on the shows each night and the resident band is Matrimony from up north, comprising of well-known session musicians who have played with various bands over the years. I also do a lot of work with the wonderful Ryan Turner band,” she says of each concert.

Louise also has a new album on release containing many of her singles over the last decade and also her recent recording of Katie Daly.

“It is incredible to think that Come Down The Mountain Katie Daly, is one of the most popular songs in my career. It has been done by so many over the years and yet it never goes out of date.”

Check out all the dates for Louise Morrissey’s 35th anniversary tour on her Facebook page.

Ballina goes country and céilí for a week

Ballina is celebrating the 300th anniversary of the town’s formal establishment this year. To mark the tercentenary, a series of major cultural and music events will take place throughout the year.

As part of these celebrations, Mayo native Gerry Flynn is pleased to bring his annual Welcome Home Festival to his hometown next week.

Gerry, the man who pioneered the overseas music holidays phenomenon around 30 years ago, has resided with his family in Blackburn for many years. He is a former manager of the English midlands region with Fáilte Ireland during which time he established many friendships throughout the hospitality sector.

Catering for devotees of country music as well as set dancers, the festival gets under way at the Great National Hotel from Sunday 18 June until Sunday 25 June.

Gerry and the team are looking forward to welcoming people for the daily and nightly shows. Céilí bands such as the Annaly, Foot Tappers and Johnny Reidy will perform nightly from 9pm to 11pm.

The main ballroom [of the hotel] will host four hours of dancing each night and among the entertainers this year are Dermot Hegarty, the Stephen Smyth Band, Pat Jordan, Declan Aungier, Glenshane Country (Pat McKenna and Hugh Turner), The Moynihan, Michelle Murphy, Showband Sounds, Magic Moments, Frank Nelson, Pat Mulchrone, Break-free, Checkers, and Teddy and Cathal Barry.

There will also be daily afternoon dancing from 3 – 5pm.

No trip would be complete without the ever-popular sessions which will be hosted nightly in the lounge by Mick Mackey (Clonmel) and friends.

Read more

Country Sound: Margo inducted to the Hall of Fame

Country Sound: Jack Keogh is keeping it country in the Garden of Ireland