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HomeFarming News‘You just work hard and hope for that big break’ – 31-year-old...
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘You just work hard and hope for that big break’ – 31-year-old artist & student teacher

That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with Rachel Goode (31), Ballinasloe, Co Galway.

“I grew up listening to all genres of music; my parents were massive folk music and country music fans.

It was all the really old country music, though. I have been singing ever since I was a child. I always sang solos at mass in my local choir and was always chosen to sing solos in the school plays etc.

So from my tender years, I just knew I wanted to be on stage in some way.

To note, I have many idols in music because I am classically trained, but I have always had a massive love for folk music. I have always really admired Patsy Cline, Mary Black, Eva Cassidy and also Pavarotti – what a voice.

It is my belief that all these singers have something really special, and I have always looked up to them as an artist.

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My grandad was a fabulous singer with a beautiful tenor voice, but he never did anything professionally.

In fact, usually, the only time we could get him to sing was after a few pints. It was a real treat, and he was well-known in the town for his wonderful voice.

My cousin is actually Sean O’Dowd as well, who was massive in the showbands years ago and is back on the road again now doing mighty.

I remember as a child being asked to sing by my family, and my party pieces were Streets of New York by the WolfTones and Harper Valley PTA – I knew every word of both of them songs at around the age of 6.

Musical releases

I released my first single back in 2020; this was Coal Miners Daughter. I went into the country field with a vision of having a bluegrass folk sound to my songs, so that is why this version is very bluegrass in style.

Then, I released a folk-sounding version of Tennessee Walts, which is my favourite release and actually my most played.

Then, I decided to go uptempo and released a song called Climb That Mountain High – I went away from the folk sound for this as it is so up-tempo, a really great song and was the number one played song on Tipp FM for 2022.

This year, I am working on new music with a folk sound. I really want to find a sound that is unique to me and really lets the voice shine.

For me, as an artist, that is what it is all about, the voice and telling a story through singing.

Major stages 

I know the country scene is more about the beat, which I know full well because I also jive (which I absolutely love), but as a singer, it is more about the story for me.

I have been lucky enough to perform in all the major venues throughout Ireland as a soloist.

This was when I was doing my more operatic and classical stuff, but it was a dream to sing on all those major stages, including the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, National Concert Hall and Nationa; Opera House.

I hope to sing in them again one day with my name, hopefully fronting the whole concert – that is the dream.

Concerts are my thing, and I do many of them throughout the year, either headlining or as a guest.

Making your break

I do a lot of cover songs, and it is always a mix, usually always Irish folk and country blues. I am always releasing covers on my social media, sometimes once a week.

Recently, I performed at a concert which was recorded, and I will be showcasing the songs from that over the coming weeks.

There is one already there; it is myself and Eleanor Shanley singing Sonny.

As a singer, I love the old style, where there were not many instruments; everything sounded very live and not over-produced, and they were telling a story. That is what I love about it and what I try to portray also.

As a dancer, of course, I love something that is going to get me dancing, but it is different when it comes to me as a singer.

I am more of a folk singer, but I sing country songs just in my folk style. I do not do dances or anything like that; I just go to them as a punter.

Moreover, I think in any genre, though, it is hard as an up-and-coming singer. It is hard to get the big stars to give you a chance and doing it on your own; you just hope you will make it.

You just hope and wish for that ‘big break’, as they say, but you have to work hard. It takes a lot of money also as it is an expensive game to record songs.

Male-dominated industry

I know many people trying in the country scene, and I think it is especially hard for women; it is a very male-dominated industry here in Ireland.

Sometimes our own worst enemy is ourselves, not believing in ourselves and what we have to give. You have to believe in yourself, or else who else will believe in you.

I am studying and focussing on music and will be a qualified secondary school music teacher in May, so it is then back to the blinkers with my music stuff.

It is hard to juggle it all as I am also working doing wedding ceremonies, concerts, studying and trying to record music. It is not easy, but it will be worth it all.


My dream is to grow a following here in Ireland with people who want to come and hear me and my music.

I want to sell out venues around Ireland and would also love to do festivals around Europe and sing in the US someday.

Also, I would love to sing one of my songs with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. I have performed with them before in operas, but that is very different.

Singing your own song with an orchestra would be something very special. It also merges my two worlds and loves of classical and folk together too.

I have performed on the stage for years in operas while also always keeping my folk and blues roots alive.

I was always gigging and covering folk songs, even while doing my classical.

During lockdown was when I really wanted to delve into my roots and try out the folk/country stuff and see, but it has taken me on a crazy but amazing road so far.

I have met so many amazing people and musicians, and I am excited to see what is in store. My plan now is to try and release new music and see where it takes.”

To share your story, email – [email protected]

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