There was always music in our house. I grew up listening to Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton. All the greats.
I started on the accordian when I was four years old, then I started singing and going in for all the Fleadh Ceoil`s, making trips over to Ireland. I’ve Irish roots.
I left school at sixteen and decided to put a band on the road. We started gigging in Irish clubs and pubs. I always wanted to gig — even if there were only five people in the audience — I loved it.
I grew up in Liverpool. My mum worked for the local council. My dad is a joiner and when I left school at first I did work with him for a while in the building trade. He sacked me after four months.
They’d have preferred me to stay on in education as long as possible, but nothing gives me more pleasure than communicating with other people through music. People light up whenever they hear music and I feel extremely lucky to be able to do it and get paid for it.
On a trip to Donegal in April 2009, I met with songwriter John Farry and decided to move over to Ireland after that. I’m based in Enniskillen now and have a house there, so you could say Fermanagh is home but I’m normally on the road.
My routine changes so much that one of the hardest things is trying to stay healthy and have a decent diet, you eat that much crap on the road. I always seem to end up having hot dogs and chips in service stations at midnight. When I’m not gigging I’m either recording or doing interviews.
I get all the exercise I need on stage — and I try and get in as much walking as I can.
Anything can spark an idea for a song. I could be in the car on the way to a gig, or on one of my walks.
I’m a big movie fan and love seeing all the latest releases. I did a little acting and enjoyed it. If an opportunity came up to do more I certainly wouldn’t say no.
I was recording at least three years before I got any mainstream play on radio and my advice to anyone out there is to never give up. Stick at it and believe in yourself.
I have always had great self belief since I was a kid. If you believe and want to do something — work hard and you will get it. That’s my belief.
I work hard, seven days a week with not much time off at all.
I’ve a good few faults alright. One of them is finding it hard to hide facial expressions — I would not make a good poker player.
The traits I admire in other people are hard work and honesty.
If I could be someone else for a day, I’d love to be Elvis.
I don’t think much of the X-Factor formats. I can appreciate that they give young people a start but I wouldn’t have entered.
I do still get nervous sometimes before big gigs, I’m thinking of a recent sold out one at the Waterfront Hall — I had to go to the loo twice — but if the nerves go it doesn’t become a challenge any longer. I use the nerves to my advantage. It is great to be in anticipation — are you going to slip up? As long as it doesn’t affect your performance in any negative way.
My main influences go way back in time — everyone from The Beatles and The Dubliners to Johnny McEvoy and Mary Black. My grandmother is a big fan of Joe Dolan and Dickie Rock so they’ve all had their effect on me too.
It is very hard to be in the public eye all the time — to write, record, keep gigging constantly. Luckily I learnt a lot about hard work from watching my father with his small building firm.
I try my best but if I ever get down, I ring my nan. She is the most positive glass half full person in the world.
So far life has taught me to follow your dreams and work hard and if you want to do something — get off your backside and do it.