Country singer Aishling Rafferty told David Hennessy about winning Glór Tíre, her new album and why she had to give up camogie in favour of music.
Tipperary’s Aishling Rafferty has been crowed winner of TG4’s country singing competition Glór Tíre and is about to release her second album.
But she is still only 20.
Aishling told The Irish World: “It has been an absolute whirlwind, it’s been a crazy few months.
“It was absolutely mad there for a while.
“Now it’s weird not having it every Tuesday but it was an absolutely fantastic experience that will stand to me for the rest of my life.
“There’s so many great opportunities and doors after opening for me as well.”
Aishling had always wanted to take part in the show but was not expecting a call from Mike Denver’s team when it came.
“Definitely Glor Tire was always something I wanted to do.
“As a young girl, I always watched it on the television and I thought it was absolutely amazing seeing all the other young people on it, and seeing all the mentors.
I just thought it was absolutely brilliant to see Louise Morrissey mentoring people.
“I’m a huge Louise Morrissey fan, I love listening to Mike Denver obviously as well.
“In 2019 I knew it was definitely something I wanted to do, myself and my dad went down to the live shows in the Quays in Galway just to kind of see what it was all like and get a kind of glimpse into it, I suppose.
“I was just mesmerised by it all and thought it was absolutely fantastic.
“I saw the competitors just having a ball.
“That made my mind up for me, ‘Yes, I definitely want to go on this at some stage’.
“It was always a goal of mine and I suppose it had slipped to the back of my mind then with COVID and everything.
“But then I got a phone call from Willie Carty, Mike Denver’s manager and he rang me to see if I wanted to go on the competition.
“I didn’t even have to think about my answer.
“Straight away it was, ‘Yeah, definitely, would love to do that’.
“I haven’t looked back since.
“I couldn’t say no, it was a dream.
“I was like, ‘This isn’t a joke. This is definitely happening’.”
Country singer Mike Denver would mentor Aishling all the way to glory.
“I had done gigs with Mike in the past before Glor Tire was even thought about.
“All I can say is he’s an absolute gentleman and he went above and beyond for me and all the advice he gave me was absolutely invaluable. There is no amount of money or anything that could buy the advice and support he gave me.
“All the same applies to his manager Willie as well.
“I honestly couldn’t have asked for two better men to work with over the course of it.
“Honestly, I don’t think I could have gotten a better mentor.”
How did it feel to hear your name announced as the winner? “When it happened, I couldn’t believe it.
“I was god smacked, I think you could see it on television.
“I just didn’t know what to say or what to do.
“I was just over the moon and to be honest I still can’t really believe it.
“For the first night, I was actually in the eliminator.
“I was saying to myself, ‘Look, if you don’t get through, it’s not the end of the world but if you do get through, it will be as good as winning the competition.
“And then I kind of brought that attitude with me towards the semi-final, and then when I got through the semi final, I started to think to myself, ‘Okay, maybe I do have it in me to win it’.
“But then I had the same attitude, ‘If I sound well on television, come across well, and people like me and the judges like me, that’s as good as winning it’.
“Winning it was never really the be all and end all. Obviously it was a dream.”
Aishling confesses she would always get nervous before her gigs but since Glor Tire, that hasn’t been the case.
“Before Glor Tire, I always found I’d be very nervous getting up on stage and I’d settle into it after a song or two and be really comfortable.
“The week after winning Glor Tire, I got up onstage with Mike Denver and it was absolutely packed.
“It was the first time in my life I was actually able to get up on stage and have no nerves.
“I did not have one ounce of nerves inside my whole body.
“So I suppose that was thanks to Glor Tire and having all the people tuned in on television, and all the cameras have kind of taken away the element of nerves from me.
“I kind of say to myself, ‘If you’re able to go on Glor Tire, you’re able to stand up here and sing without being nervous’. So that was a huge thing for me.”
Aishling is managed by her father John Rafferty. How delighted was he with his daughter winning the show? “Oh my god, he was absolutely over the moon as were all my family but especially daddy.
“He just couldn’t believe it but he kept saying all along that he knew I could do it.
“And he also said to me, ‘Whatever happens, you’re still going to be the same singer, you’ll still have all the gigs at the weekend as well so it’s not the be all and end all’.
“But he did say to me at the very start he knew I could do it.
“It meant the absolute world to him. He’s very, very, very passionate about the music.”
Aishling also had the support of her county with Tipperary GAA and local radio supporting her.
“It was brilliant.
“I’m very proud of where I’m from, Tipperary and I always have been.
“I love to throw on my Tipperary jersey and go to hurling matches and stuff like that.
“But the Tipperary people really, really got behind me.
“That was very encouraging.
“I was overwhelmed by all the support I received from them and so, so grateful. And I’m delighted to be able to represent them.
“There’s never been a singer from Tipperary on Glor Tire before if I’m correct.
“But I’m delighted to be able to represent them to bring the crown home was even more of a bonus on top of all that.”
The Glor Tire €5,000 prize money is not the only prize Aishling has ever brought back to Tipperary.
She represented the Premier County at camogie at Under- 13, Under- 15 and Under- 17 level. She also won a schools All- Ireland with Borrisokane Community College and Under- 13 county title.
“When I was growing up, I was playing camogie with Shannon Rovers. They were my local camogie club and I actually played for Tipperary as well so I wore the blue and gold jersey which is something I’m very proud of.
“But I suppose as time went on with college and music, something had to take a back seat and it definitely wasn’t going to be the music so I actually gave up the camogie.
“But I love camogie and I met some great friends through it as well.”
Aishling, who is studying music at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, will soon return to her old secondary school Borrisokane Community College as a teacher on placement.
“It’s funny, I’m going full circle.
“It’s very surreal to think a few years ago I was a student there in the school concert.
“Now I’m going to go back and organise the school concert which is brilliant.
“I can’t believe I’m going back and I’m going to be Miss Rafferty.
“Who knows, I might even pick up a camogie stick when I’m back there.
The singer from Knockshegowna announced herself on the scene back in 2020 with tracks like Home to Donegal, Except for Mondays, New Moon Over my Shoulder and her latest offering, God’s Plan.
2020 was also the year she released her debut album My Journey.
She is now set to release her second album.
“In the next few weeks my album will be coming out.
“I was working on it for quite some time. I was working on it over lockdown.
My most recent singles, the likes of Darling Tell Me You’ll Love Me When I’m Old, Truck Driving Woman, Grandpa Tell Me About the Good Old Days.
“They’re all taken from my album.
“They’ve gotten over a million views, some of them on Facebook and YouTube.
“There’s been six released and they’ve all been number one on iTunes. That was absolutely huge for me.
“I’m just really excited for the album to be coming out in the next few weeks.
“I think there’s something very special about this because as I was working on it before Glore Tire and now I’m coming out with it after winning Glor Tire.
“I’m really excited about that.”
For a long time Aishling has been singing in old people’s homes to give the residents there a bit of a lift.
This has escalated since her exploits on television.
“They’re the loveliest people ever and when I walked in, because I hadn’t been in there in a while because of Glor Tire, they were like, ‘It’s the girl off the television’.
“They were kind of starstruck but I was like, ‘There’s no need to be making a big deal over me.
“I just love it.”
Aishling says singing never feels like a chore.
“(Singing) doesn’t feel like work at all.
“I wouldn’t be much of a going out person. I don’t go to nightclubs or anything like that. I’m out singing.
“People say, ‘Are you working tonight?’
“I’m like, ‘This isn’t work. I’m singing. This is what I love. It does not feel like work’.”
Aishling’s new album Love Me When I’m Old is out now.
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