American country music songwriters have penned some of the most beautiful love songs ever written, in my opinion. Heart songs never go out of fashion and great country songwriters have always captured the essence of emotional appeal in some of the most classic songs composed down through the years.

Songs that spring to mind include classics like, I Love You Because, by Jim Reeves; I Will Always Love You, by Dolly Parton; I Still Miss Someone, by Johnny Cash; < I> Love Me Tender, by Elvis Presley; and the evergreen country standards, The Tennessee Waltz and The Red River Valley.

This was my focus last year for Valentine’s Day but this year, I have opted to take a look at some of the great love songs recorded by Irish country singers (and some from the showband era). One of Johnny McEvoy’s most enduring songs is Those Brown Eyes.

‘Those brown eyes I love so well / Those brown eyes I love to see / How I long for those brown eyes/ Strange as they have grown to be.’

Ireland’s first Eurovision representative, Butch Moore, from Dublin, rendered Walking the Streets in the Rain and Born to be with You. Dickie Rock charmed the dancers with From The Candy Store on the Corner to the Chapel on the Hill.

Ireland’s country king, Big Tom from Monaghan, recorded a host of wonderful love songs including Pretty Little Girl from Omagh, Lonesome at your Table, I Love You Still and Old Love Letters. Gene Stuart from Tyrone sang his heart out on You’re Still the Only One I’ll Ever Love and I’ll be there Before The Next Teardrop Falls.

The Westmeath bachelor, Joe Dolan delighted his followers with a variety of songs like Good Looking Woman and I Love You More and More Every Day.

Down Waterford way, Paddy O’Brien recorded a beautiful version of the Johnny McEvoy composition, Going To California. Matt Keane from Galway, a brother of Dolores and Seán, does a great rendition of Somebody Special, a powerful song written by trad singer Don Stiffe, also from Galway.

Roly Daniels

Frank McCaffrey from the lovely town of Westport recorded a song he performed in the last Castlebar International Song Contest entitled Alone in New York City.

The chorus goes: ‘Come summer I’ll be flying high / Back to where the skies are blue / Sharing my dreams with the Mayo mountains /And falling in love with you.’

Jordan Mogey, a superbly talented young singer from Ballymoney in Antrim, hits home base with his amazing version of I’ll Leave This Old World Loving You. Mick Flavin has enjoyed enduring success with Maria’s Heading Out To California; Derek Ryan from Carlow celebrates the love story in a special way with his wonderful self-penned song, Made of Gold; while Eddie Lee from Kerry pulled at the heart-strings with The One Going Home To You Tonight.

And for those of us of a certain generation, Roly Daniels’ incredible version of Hello Darlin’ just has to be one of the most evergreen love songs of them all. Happy St Valentine’s Day, y’all!

The Galway Clayton goes country again

Margo, country singer

The Clayton Hotel in Galway will host the annual Michael Commins Country Concerts on Monday, 4 March and Tuesday, 5 March. Around 30 acts will grace the stage, evenly spread between the two nights.

Margo is the headline act on the Monday night and also on the bill are Don Stiffe, Tony Allen, Ciarán Rosney, Marc Roberts, Shawn Cuddy, Billy McFarland, PJ Murrihy, Ann Droney Kirrane, Frankie McDonald, PJ Duggan, Trevor Dixon, Eunice Moran, Michael Holster, John P Keane and the Ryan Turner Band.

The Tuesday night show has another fine line-up and features Art Supple, John Glenn, Mick Mulhern, Matt Keane, TR Dallas, The Killarneys, Damian Davis, Eddie Lee, Effie Neill, Pat McKenna, Richard Mulligan, Sarah MacEvilly, Joe Forde, Emma Donohue and the Ryan Turner Band.

The afternoon sessions are from 3.30pm to 5.30pm in the bar each day where patrons are welcome to join the live music with Mick Mulhern and The Usual Suspects. The same band also provides music in the lounge after both concerts.

Tickets for the shows are €35 and are available from The Clayton Hotel reception (091 721900), Ticketmaster and direct from Patsy Brown on 086 155 1841.

Torremolinos is calling again

Patrons of Gerry Flynn Events are gearing up for the annual trip to Torremolinos in Spain. Around 600 people are expected to attend the 10-day event from 1-11 April, which will be held in the Amaragua Hotel right on the seafront and beside the renowned promenade.

It was Gerry who inaugurated the entire overseas holiday ventures for céilí and country music aficionados around 30 years ago, with Spain and Portugal as the destinations. Today, the Mayo native, who has resided for many years in Blackburn, still retains the same enthusiasm for the ventures as he did all those years ago.

This April sees the Ryan Turner Band making their debut with Gerry Flynn Events and they will be a tremendous addition to the holiday. Among the artists featured on the bill are Declan Aungier, Checkers, and Michelle Murphy. Catering for the set dancers and providing the music for the céilís will be the Annaly, the Footappers and the Johnny Reidy Céilí bands. The compére for the event is Pat Jordan while Mick Mackey from Clonmel is the ‘Fear and Tí’ for the hugely popular nightly music, singing and story-telling sessions in the lounge.

For more, see Gerry Flynn Music and Dance Holidays on Facebook

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