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Sunday World's Eddie Rowley joins TG4’s Glór Tíre panel as series returns with new format

'The contestants this year are all strong performers. This is a year where I just can’t call it'
Eddie joins regular panellists Caitriona and Jo

Eddie joins regular panellists Caitriona and Jo

Eddie Rowley

It gave Nathan Carter his first Irish TV performance and was the launching pad for several country stars including Lisa McHugh - now TG4's iconic Glór Tíre is back with a brand new format.

And I'm delighted to be representing the Sunday World as a judge on the country music talent show this Tuesday night, alongside regular panellists Caitriona Ní Shuilleabháin and Jo Ní Chéide.

Guest judges in the coming weeks will feature country music legends Susan McCann, Mick Flavin and Louise Morrissey.

This year's top performers and mentors on the show are Mike Denver, Olivia Douglas, Ciarán Rosney and Johnny Brady.

Brady is the star of this Tuesday's show and will mentor his contestants, Tracy Brennan from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and Kenny Crawford from Lifford in Co Donegal.

Glór Tíre, which is presented by Aoife Ní Thuairisg and Séamus Ó Scanláin, has been one of TG4's most popular shows for the last 18 years.

Lisa McHugh got a huge boost from appearing on the show

Lisa McHugh got a huge boost from appearing on the show

When Nathan Carter performed on the programme as a singer and mentor in 2012, it was his very first TV appearance - and before he achieved massive fame with his smash hit, Wagon Wheel.

"There is a video of me singing an old medley of Irish songs like Spanish Lady and Westmeath Bachelor on my first Glór Tíre show, and I'm in the shiniest silver suit you've ever seen in your life," Nathan laughs this week as he recalls that appearance.

"It's still up there on YouTube. I cringe every time I see it, but back then I thought I was the bee's knees in the silvery suit.

"But it was great to be on Glór Tíre at that time. There aren't many country music TV shows in Ireland, so it has been a huge boost for our genre.

"Glór Tíre gets you into the homes of a lot of people across the entire island of Ireland who are into country music.

"The fans can enjoy a country show by the mentor, and the contestants get the chance to show what they have to offer and get their name out there.

"Lisa McHugh always says it was a great platform for her when she was starting out, and she then went on to launch her own band. She was mentored on her first show by Robert Mizzell, and then she went back as a mentor herself to Grainne Gavigan.

"I mentored Sean Corrigan and Niamh McGlinchey and they've gone on to do well in their careers. Niamh toured with me on and off for three or four years when we became good pals."

Contestant Tracy Brennan

Contestant Tracy Brennan

Glór Tíre producer Maria Griffin tells how she has seen contestants thrive and achieve success after getting their break on the show.

"Lisa McHugh didn't win it, but she did very well," Maria points out. "It's often the case. Olivia Douglas, who is back as a performer and mentor this season, didn't win it, but again she's had a very successful solo career.

"Olivia is one of the contestants who has definitely crafted her performance. When she was on Glór Tíre as a contestant, she didn't have the confidence or the stage presence that she has now. She has great pizzazz now. Her performance on this year's Glór Tíre is fantastic.

"The contestants this year are all strong performers. This is a year where I just can't call it."

This year's contestants include Katelyn Molloy, Deirdre Keane and Rachel Good, all from Galway; Aishling Rafferty and Colin Kenny from Tipperary and Rachel McConnell from Fermanagh.

In a new twist this year, the judges on the first four shows will choose four of the eight contestants - with the remaining four going to a public vote as part of the first elimination.

Mentor Johnny Brady with his contestants Kenny Crawford and Tracy Brennan in the new series of Glór Tíre

Mentor Johnny Brady with his contestants Kenny Crawford and Tracy Brennan in the new series of Glór Tíre

Five contestants will ultimately make it to the semi-final, and three will go on to the final, with the winner chosen on February 22.

As well as the Glór Tíre crown, there is a cash prize of €5,000 for the winner, sponsored by Louis Fitzgerald Group & Joel's Restaurant.

The winner will also join Mike Denver and friends as a guest performer this year for one week of shows in Portugal, sponsored by Paul Claffey Tours.

Last year's winner was Galway nurse Emma Donoghue. "I've had an amazing year and learnt so much about the country music industry from my mentor Mike Denver," Emma says.

"I've grown in confidence and built a fantastic, loyal fan base thanks to the Glór Tíre series."

GLÓR Tíre is on TG4 this Tuesday night at 9.30pm.

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