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Meet the reigning ‘Westmeath Bachelor’ – the Kerryman who quit farming to seek fame and fortune in music

Fresh from dazzling Louis Walsh and the other judges in Mullingar, Bryan Murphy says, ‘I love farming, but music is where my heart is… if I don’t do it now I never will’

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Another string to his bow: Bryan Murphy from Ballinglanna, Causeway, Tralee, Co Kerry, winner of the ‘Westmeath Bachelor 2022’. Photos: Domnick Walsh

Another string to his bow: Bryan Murphy from Ballinglanna, Causeway, Tralee, Co Kerry, winner of the ‘Westmeath Bachelor 2022’. Photos: Domnick Walsh

Bryan with his trophy

Bryan with his trophy

Bryan Murphy performing at the Westmeath Bachelor

Bryan Murphy performing at the Westmeath Bachelor

Bryan Murphy on the family farm at Ballinglanna, Causeway, Tralee, Co Kerry

Bryan Murphy on the family farm at Ballinglanna, Causeway, Tralee, Co Kerry

Bryan used to work as a farm labourer but now just helps out on the home farm

Bryan used to work as a farm labourer but now just helps out on the home farm

Bryan in Mullingar

Bryan in Mullingar

Bryan is on the road six nights a week over the summer

Bryan is on the road six nights a week over the summer

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Another string to his bow: Bryan Murphy from Ballinglanna, Causeway, Tralee, Co Kerry, winner of the ‘Westmeath Bachelor 2022’. Photos: Domnick Walsh

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for 25-year-old Kerry farmer and musician Bryan Murphy, who was recently crowned ‘Westmeath Bachelor’.

Bryan, who lives between Listowel, Tralee and Ballybunion, says he entered the competition after living through the pandemic gave him “a new appreciation for life”.

“It was something I would never have done previous to Covid but being at home so much and not getting out to see places or do things and have the craic changed my mind,” he explains.

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Bryan with his trophy

Bryan with his trophy

Bryan with his trophy

“It was totally outside my comfort zone to enter this and I wanted to go for something different. During Covid we were very isolated down here in Kerry and it was nice to get out and try something new — something I hadn’t tried before.

“Also, I had a few health problems before and during the pandemic and it changed my view on things. I said I’ll go for everything that comes up in front of me — I’ll just do it and grab the bull by the horns.”

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Bryan in Mullingar

Bryan in Mullingar

Bryan in Mullingar

Bryan was one of 13 finalists to grace the stage in Mullingar in front of celebrity judges Louis Walsh, Anne Doyle, Doireann Garrihy and Nathan Carter. He played a medley of songs on the accordion and sang.

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Bryan Murphy performing at the Westmeath Bachelor

Bryan Murphy performing at the Westmeath Bachelor

Bryan Murphy performing at the Westmeath Bachelor

“We had to go on stage and be ourselves and do a little talent piece. I took the accordion and sang Mama Mia, Hey Baby and I finished on I’ll Tell Me Ma. It was a fantastic weekend with some big names such as the Academic, the Blizzards and Gavin James.”

The experience, he says, was a great boost to his confidence.

“I was very surprised, I didn’t think I would win it but I was delighted when I did,” he says.

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Bryan Murphy on the family farm at Ballinglanna, Causeway, Tralee, Co Kerry

Bryan Murphy on the family farm at Ballinglanna, Causeway, Tralee, Co Kerry

Bryan Murphy on the family farm at Ballinglanna, Causeway, Tralee, Co Kerry

“To enter, you just had to fill out an application and you’re either chosen or you’re not. I’d say to anyone thinking of doing it, go for it because it’s a really brilliant experience.”

Bryan grew up on a dairy farm and spent his teenage years in the milking parlour. He still helps out, and worked as a farm labourer, before giving it up to follow his dream of becoming a full-time musician. Music was in the family.

“The love of music comes from my father, Patrick,” he says. “I remember being in the milking parlour with my father when I was young and him singing. That’s where I learned to sing.

“There was an accordion in the house when I was growing up and my father played a little bit by ear and I started playing it, getting a few lessons from a neighbour.

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Bryan used to work as a farm labourer but now just helps out on the home farm

Bryan used to work as a farm labourer but now just helps out on the home farm

Bryan used to work as a farm labourer but now just helps out on the home farm

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“I got my first professional accordion when I was around 13. My father sold a Limousin heifer for €1,150 and we bought a beautiful wooden accordion with it in Kenmare.

“After that, I really started to learn and play and sing. I always played music as a pastime and did the odd gig here and there, and after thinking about it for a while, I decided I was going to follow my dream.”

Now Bryan performs throughout Ireland.

“Over the summer it’ll be on the road six nights a week, playing in Killarney with the band on Tuesday and Thursday nights, then in Dingle on Friday nights,” he says.

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Bryan is on the road six nights a week over the summer

Bryan is on the road six nights a week over the summer

Bryan is on the road six nights a week over the summer

“Then Saturday and Sunday I’ll be travelling playing in either pubs or at weddings.”

With his music career taking off, there’s less time spent in the parlour these days, but his younger brother Patrick is happy to take over the reins at home.

“I don’t milk as much as I used to because most nights I’m not in bed until around 3am,” he says.

“My brother Patrick milks full-time now. When you grow up on a farm you’re thrown in at the deep end as soon as you can wear wellingtons, and while I love farming, music is more therapeutic.

“Music is where my heart is and if I don’t do it now I never will.”


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