We searched high and we searched low for our Ploughing for Stars finalists. Entries came in from all corners of the country, and even further afield, but we have managed to whittle it down to just six. Three contestants will perform at the Irish Farmers Journal stand at the National Ploughing Championships on Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 September at 4pm. All of our readers are invited to attend Ploughing for Stars, for what is sure to be an electric afternoon of entertainment. The prize for the winner on both days is the chance to sing with Mike Denver at one of his concerts. So, without further ado, let’s meet our finalists.
A tillage and sheep farmer from outside Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, Peter Hughes will be singing an original song he co-wrote called A Shed with No Hay, which is to the tune of the Dubliners song, A Pub with No Beer. Music has been a hobby of Peter’s always.
He is into both country and traditional music; playing the guitar, banjo and harmonica. Peter organises a monthly session in his local pub, which encompasses musicians, singers and storytellers.
Keelan Greaney hails from Tuam, Co Galway. He studies computing and digital media at GMIT. Although he enjoys this course, it is most defiantly his dream to be a singer. Coming from a musical family, it was through his mother – who is also a brilliant performer – that he got his passion for music.
He has been a huge country fan his whole life. His favourite singers include Robert Mizzell and, of course, Mike Denver, which is no surprise as Keelan himself also sings with a distinctive American country sound.
Mary ‘Flash’ Gordon
At the age of 68, Mary Gordon describes herself as “a granny game for anything” who “would give anything a try”. Living in Limerick but a Tipperary woman through and through, Mary worked for the HSE for 12 years prior to retiring. Since retirement, the singer says she has only started to live. She is a huge fan of country music and social dancing, where everyone knows her as “Flash” after the 1980s film Flash Gordon. Every Monday night Mary and her sisters go dancing in Tullamore, which she says has been her saviour since her husband passed away.
From Oylegate, Co Wexford, Michelle Murphy is a fan of both country music and social dancing. She feels getting out to a show and throwing a few shapes is an instant lift for just about anybody. As a young girl she looked up to the likes of Philomena Begley, Louise Morrissey, Margo and Gloria. They remain some of her favourite singers to this day. She feels the modern wave of country singers have brought a whole new audience to the scene and this has injected great energy into Irish country music. For Michelle, the appeal of country music is its relatability and the strong storytelling element of songs.
Roscommon man Peter Hoey is no stranger to singing competitions, having won his county’s Scór na nÓg competition twice in the solo singing category. He grew up on his family’s suckler farm outside Tarmonbarry. This is a very musical household, his father and sisters all also have a huge interest in singing. Country is the whole family’s musical genre of choice. As a child Peter listened to The Dubliners, Mary Black and Christy Moore. Now he is also in to Mike Denver, Lisa McHugh and Derek Ryan. The 22-year-old is a recent graduate of business information systems in GMIT.
Kendal Moody is 16 and in fifth year in Scoil Chonglais, Baltinglass, Co Wicklow. Her interest in music was fostered by her step-grandfather, who attended the Ploughing every year. She decided to enter Ploughing for Stars as she felt it encompassed both of his interests and would make him proud. Kendal’s father is a sheep farmer, and while farming may have been of big interest to her as a child, it has definitely taken a back seat to music recently. She plays the piano and guitar. After school, Kendal most definitely sees her future in music and wants to go on to study it at third level.