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Dual career Student nurse and rising country star says music was a 'form of escape'

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday World, Emma insists that she has no intention of turning her back on nursing for the glamour and glitz of showbusiness

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Emma Donohue on stage

Emma Donohue on stage

Emma Donohue on stage

It's been a full-on year for Irish student nurse and country singer Emma Donohue.

A native of Killoran, Co Galway, Emma (22) was thrown into the deep end as a nurse - working on placement in hospitals around the midlands in the midst of the pandemic.

And the rising star of country music also shot to national fame by winning this year's TG4 Glór Tíre talent show, where she was mentored by the scene's top entertainer, Mike Denver.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday World, Emma insists that she has no intention of turning her back on nursing for the glamour and glitz of showbusiness - despite the fact that she feels the nursing profession is not getting the support it deserves.

"I never went into nursing for the money," Emma says. "I wanted to go into it because I like caring for people. I'm very much people-oriented.

"But I feel that nursing is a very underrated job at the minute. We're classed as frontline heroes, but we're still understaffed. There are still people getting sick and we have a huge patient-to-nurse ratio coming in the door."

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Emma on the farm.

Emma on the farm.

Emma on the farm.

Emma says that dealing with the pressures associated with the impact of Covid-19 has created stress and burnout among nursing staff.

Did she witness it herself? "Oh big time, particularly in A&E," Emma says. "The mornings might be quiet, but come three o'clock they [patients] poured in and you just didn't have the staff for it.

"You'd have staff out sick and then you'd have to nurse a big number of patients. There aren't enough staff for the [recommended] nurse-to-patient ratio, so you're on your own. I know there are nurses around to help you, but you are pretty much on your own.

"There's a skeleton staff. It's frightening and it's scary, but I have developed that thing of where you put on your coat going in and you hang it up on the way out.

"Some of the stuff you see you couldn't possibly bring it home, or it would just ruin you. I'm very fortunate that I come from a farming background because that, along with the music, was another form of escape. You go out and feed the animals and it takes your mind off whatever is going on

"It's been an education, but it hasn't put me off nursing. It's tough, but it's something that I wouldn't change either because I'm in it now and I love it and I couldn't see myself at anything different."

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Emma says that she also intends to pursue a dual career in country music after winning Glór Tíre, and she's currently recording an album.

She hadn't been a performer prior to entering the spotlight on TG4, but before the coronavirus shut down entertainment Emma says that every weekend she went to country music shows and dances around Ireland with her pals, following stars such as Derek Ryan, Johnny Brady and Mike Denver.

"It was tough doing Glór Tíre and my nurse training, I'm not going to say it wasn't, but you just needed to balance the two," Emma says.

"I had never done anything like that before. The biggest bonus for me was getting my hair and make-up done. But the blessing was that I was able to bring in one person throughout the whole series, which I switched between my mum and my dad. It really did put me at ease. If I didn't have my mam and dad with me at each show I don't know what way I would have been.

"My mam and dad were the ones who introduced me and my brother, Colin, to country music growing up. There was always country music in the house - Philomena Begley or Declan Nerney was always playing on a Saturday morning - and they used to pull me and Colin out on the kitchen floor to try and jive.

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Emma’s moment of triumph in this year’s Glór Tíre

Emma’s moment of triumph in this year’s Glór Tíre

Emma’s moment of triumph in this year’s Glór Tíre

"So I always had a love for it. Nightclubs weren't for me… the thrill and the craic you have at country dances you wouldn't get in a nightclub.

"There wasn't a weekend here that I'd be home. I'd be gone dancing. I just loved the country music.

"When I got the opportunity to go into Glór Tíre and perform I said, 'I'm going to grab this opportunity', because life doesn't throw you too many of them.

"The amount of support I received from everyone was fantastic. The benefit of working in so many different hospitals meant that I got to know a lot of people as well. I made a lot of friends through the nurses and doctors and they all got behind me.

"It was great to see that friendship and support coming through for me in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic."

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Emma with Mike Denver on Glór Tíre

Emma with Mike Denver on Glór Tíre

Emma with Mike Denver on Glór Tíre

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