Cliona Hagan one of Ireland's new sensations
Turn on any local radio station in Ireland and while you’ll find many of the mainstream songs and artists you’d find on any most popular download chart or playlist worldwide, you will also come across the Irish phenomenon of country music.
A massive industry that has growing followers, young and old across the country, the singers and artists of Irish country music get their spotlight on TG4, and now even on RTÉ - didn’t we have our very own Late Late Show devoted to this genre?
As if we learned nothing from the Garth Brooks debacle when the country went crazy over the American country singer, there are often attempts to downplay just how influential the Irish country music scene is and just how large a following its biggest singers and artists draw in. Artists like Daniel O’Donnell and Nathan Carter fill massive theatres worldwide while the likes of Robert Mizzell, Cliona Hagan, Declan Nerney and Derek Ryan pack cruise ships and have them jiving on the streets of Benalmadena.
Yet through the rise and fall of many eras, such as the big bands or the showbands in Ireland, country music and the Irish country music charts have remained, consistently elevating new talent and continuing as a firm favourite among rural communities. Perhaps it’s the fact that behind every song there is a story that resonates with many or indeed the jiving which competes with any keep fit club or slimming organisation or maybe the realisation the age has no barrier.
Last weekend the maple floor of the Abbey Hotel in Donegal was just full to capacity as dancers from as far away as Belfast, Tipperary and Cork danced the night away. They all seem to know each other- it just seems like one massive club and is great for business at this, the traditionally quiet time of the year.
Next weekend will see a similar scene as country fans will converge on the resort town of Bundoran and in particular the Allingham Arms.
As Peter McIntyre of the Allingham commented: "Donegal is totally unique in that week after week it continues to attract country fans from all over the country but strangely enough it also brings them in for the likes of Sea Sessions and hard rockers for the likes of the Rory Gallagher Festival. Donegal people just love music.
"We have been holding these country weekend breaks now for the Bank Holiday and this weekend have the likes of Declan Nerney, Mick Flavin and Cliona Hagan.
“It’s the greatest thing that ever happened for the county and a massive boost to the local economy.- there was a time that Donegal used to close down for the Winter now we are all thriving.”
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