We went to see Philomena Begley and at 81 she is still the Queen of Country

Philomena Begley and Ray Lyman perform at the Waterfront Hall
-Credit: (Image: Belfast Live)


As a 26-year-old man born and raised in West Belfast, I am probably not the typical person that you would expect to find in the audience at a Philomena Begley concert. However, having grown up listening to the likes of Philomena and Susan McCann, I could think of no better way to spend a Saturday night out.

Arriving at the Waterfront Hall with my mother, I was surprised to see that I wasn't the youngest person there. While the majority of the audience were aged 60+, there was a healthy contingent of younger people waiting to see Ireland's 'Queen of Country' take to the stage.

Opening the show, Shawn Cuddy and Keltic Storm had the audience eating out of the palm of their hands with his hit 'Merry Go Round' which also included some chair dancing from the audience to make sure that we were all loosened up.

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Taking to the stage after Shawn, Joe Moore toned it down a little with a number of American country hits before the legendary Ray Lynam took to the stage.

Celebrating 55 years in the music industry, Ray's vocals are still as sharp as they were back in 1969 as he performed some of his back catalogue including the hits from his time fronting the Hillbillies showband.

After Ray's set, it was time for the main event as Philomena Begley took to the stage opening with Queen of The Silver Dollar and her hit Blanket on The Ground.

Despite her age and having undergone heart surgery five years ago, the Co Tyrone woman is still going strong and kept the crowds entertained with her usual craic and innuendo.

Philomena informed the crowd that she had flown to Spain on Wednesday for a gig, flew back on Thursday then performed on Friday and Saturday ahead of a number of upcoming gigs this week across Ireland.

As she approaches her 82nd birthday later this year, she also said that she has no intention of retiring, even if she has to be pushed onto the stage in a wheelchair.

After performing a set of her biggest hits, Philomena was joined on stage once again by Ray Lyman where they performed a number of their duets that they have recorded over the years after first performing together 50 years ago.

Towards the end of the set, you could tell that it was beginning to take it's toll on Philomena as she began to forget some of the lyrics. Despite this, she is still going strong and audiences are in for a treat if she is performing near you soon!

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