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music icon Rising country star Olivia Douglas says Philomena Begley was her biggest influence

'I was fascinated by her. I loved her voice and her personality, and later I loved the way she interacted with people'

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Olivia Douglas pictured at the Sunday World Country Music Awards 2020. 
Picture: Owen Breslin

Olivia Douglas pictured at the Sunday World Country Music Awards 2020. Picture: Owen Breslin

Olivia Douglas pictured at the Sunday World Country Music Awards 2020. Picture: Owen Breslin

Since first coming to national attention as a contestant on TG4’s Glór Tire in 2016, Olivia Douglas has established herself as one of the Irish country music scene’s most popular young performers.

Back with a new single, Just A Thought Away, Olivia’s musical career began on the stage at her family’s bar, Tom’s Tavern, in Ferbane, Co. Offaly.

“That’s where I started off playing when I was about 11,” Olivia says. “Every Saturday and Sunday there would be live music. I remember legends such as Seamus Shannon performing in the pub and I was absolutely mesmerised watching him playing the button accordion.

Excelled

“I even remember Mike Denver playing there before he put his band on the road. Back then, the pubs were going well.”

On her journey to national prominence, Olivia then became a well known musician at Fleadh Cheoils, where she excelled on the button accordion and came second in the Under 18 All Ireland Fleadh in 2005.

But Olivia says her biggest influence in music has been the Queen of Country Philomena Begley.

“When I was growing up, it wasn’t that I wanted to be an accordion player, I wanted to be like Philomena,” she says today.

“I was fascinated by her. I loved her voice and her personality, and later I loved the way she interacted with people.

“Some of the lads who played in our pub would have played with Philomena, and Daddy had her phone number. I remember pestering him to ring her so that I could talk to her. I had him tormented.

“Eventually he gave in and put me on the phone to her, and sure Philomena had no problem talking to me. I just loved her. I remember asking her to send me the words of Queen of the Silver Dollar. I was only nine or 10 at the time.”

In 2016, Olivia decided to enter TG4’s Glór Tire contest as a singer and accordion player. “It all just fell into place after that,” she says.

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Like all of us, Olivia, whose career was flying before the pandemic shut down live music events, is looking forward to getting back performing on stage in the near future.

Meanwhile, you can now request her new single, Just A Thought Away, from your local radio station.

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