Nature always wins out and life has returned to normal after two years of COVID-19 restrictions. The country is buzzing again and over 400,000 people attended the recent Garth Brooks concerts in Dublin over five nights. Few can doubt the special place country music has in the hearts of the Irish people.

Some months ago a young girl from Tipperary secured the Glór Tíre title for 2022 on TG4. It has been an amazing year for Aishling Rafferty from the Premier County who has just turned 21.

Aisling is now looking forward to a very special night in Limerick University Concert Hall where she will headline her own acoustic country show on 28 September at 8pm.

“I am very excited about this show. It came about after I did support to Mike Denver a few months ago and some of the staff at the Concert Hall suggested I should front my own show. As a student of UL, the invitation was one I could not turn down. I will be joined on stage by Enda Dempsey who resides around Athenry and who hails from the Roscommon side of Athlone. He is a member of Derek Ryan’s band and will be playing both guitar and piano for my acoustic concert in Limerick.

“I will be singing some ballads, other songs that I don’t get a chance to sing normally and requested numbers like Darling Say You’ll Love Me When I’m Old and Truck Driving Woman and other country standards,” says Aishling.

Aishling’s gig is one of a series of three Monday night country acoustic shows at the concert hall in Limerick. Clodagh Lawlor from Clare will headline the second show on 19 October while Cliona Hagan will front the show on 16 October.

Aishling is a third-year student at the Irish Academy of Music and Dance at Limerick University and is currently on placement at Borrisokane Community School in Co Tipperary of which she is a past pupil.

“I absolutely love and it is such a pleasure to be back in the school where I did the Leaving Cert a few years ago and teaching music to the students in different classes,” says Aishling.

The Tipperary lady released her debut album some months ago and has a busy diary for the months ahead. “Between guest spots on concert shows and social dancing gigs around the country as well as some guest spots on the overseas music holiday scene in Spain and Portugal and house parties here at home, I have a hectic schedule in front of me. I am also delighted and thrilled to feature as the support act to Mike Denver of some of his upcoming concert shows.”

Tickets for the Acoustic Country with Aishling Rafferty concert are now available online from Limerick University Concert Hall.

Country notes

Killarney launch for Annmarie

Cork singer Annmarie O’Riordan will launch her new album, The Harvest Dance, at a special concert night in the INEC Acoustic Club at the Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney on Sunday, September 25.

This is her first album launch in some years and marks a welcome return to the recording scene for the primary school teacher who is a member of the staff at Kanturk NS. A single from the album, Do You Ever Hear The Robin Sing, has been picking up lots of airplay in recent weeks.

Annmarie will be accompanied by her talented band featuring Alan Finn, Bryan O’Leary, Ger Naughton and Anthony Holmes. Tickets are now available from the INEC box office.

Country sounds in Ratheniska

Thousands have been flocking to the Irish and World Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois, this week. The buzz is back and rural Ireland is putting its best foot forward in style again.

Country music has been part of the festival over the last two decades and this week sees many names from the Irish scene performing on stage over the three days. It should come as no surprise that country music retains such a special place in the hearts of so many in the rural heartlands. Among the performers on the main stand this week are Brendan Shine, PJ Murrihy, Philomena Begley, TR Dallas, Mick Flavin, John Hogan, Sandy Kelly, Mick Foster, Moyra Fraser, John McNicholl, Kathy Durkin, Marc Roberts, Paul Kelly, Olivia Douglas, Alex Roe, Sina Theil, Claudia Buckley, Clodagh Lawlor and Sabrina Fallon. Laois native Trudi Lalor is the compere for the 1pm to 3pm daily slot.

John Molloy, The Duets and others are also providing music at the festival while Seamus Moore will entertain patrons in the hospitality quarter over the three days.

Meanwhile, the legendary Bachelors in Trouble are delighted to be back and meeting their friends from all over the country. Waterford duo Tony Coffey and Seán Murphy are also launching their new DVD, The Golden Years, featuring material from 1989 to 2022, as they take a trip down memory lane. You can find them at Block 2, Row 35, Stand 561.

Cork Station’s 10th anniversary

Cork Music Station is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The popular internet country music station was set up by Willie, Ita and John Fitzgerald from Cullen, Co Cork, in 2012 and has established a loyal clientele here at home and overseas, especially the US.

While the format is almost entirely country and Irish ballads, Seán Radley from Millstreet has carved out a niche with his eclectic show, Radio Treasures, which is unique on internet radio from Ireland.

A special night to mark the 10th anniversary will be held in The Pub, Carriganima (halfway between Millstreet and Macroom) on Saturday 1 October 1 starting around 9pm. Among those providing the music will be Barry O’Halloran, Michelle Murphy, Heart to Heart, Sheila Heery and others. All are welcome to come along and join the celebrations.

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