Swansong for Mary Black as singer plans final foreign tour
Veteran performs at Leopardstown on final day of festival
SINGER Mary Black will bid goodbye to her overseas fans with a worldwide tour in 2014.
The 58-year-old stalwart of Irish music will take on one of her busiest years to date, with both a string of international concerts, as well as putting finishing touches to her new memoir.
"I'm calling the tour 'The Last Call' and it will be my final tour abroad," she said.
"I've been touring for 30 years and all that travelling does take it out of you, so I just felt it was the right time," the mother-of-four told the Irish Independent.
"We'll start in the UK, then on to Europe and then off to Asia and America, so it's going to be a very busy schedule. I'll never actually stop singing, I'm not ready to give that up yet, but I just don't want to do that hard slog any more; it's gruelling.
"I've a grandchild now and another on the way too, so I'd like to pick and choose what I want to do; it's another chapter for me and my family and it's exciting."
Black was speaking at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival yesterday, which finished up with the introduction of a new tradition -- a seasonal concert.
Simultaneously marking the end of The Gathering and the beginning of the New Year's Eve celebrations, NYE Gathering Day was the last hurdle of the four-day meeting at the south Dublin racecourse and rounded out a successful week with a performance by Black and fellow singer, Finbar Furey.
"It's a lovely way to finish off the year and this is a real happy, family occasion," Black said.
The singers took to the stage to entertain the punters after the last race of the event.
As well as musical entertainment, the crowds enjoyed plenty of action on the track, with the heroic Hurricane Fly, ridden by Ruby Walsh and trained by Willie Mullins, claiming the feature race of the day, the Grade 1 €100,000 Ryanair Hurdle.
"I'd say there's more to come from this horse, he's incredibly strong, and hopefully he'll go to Cheltenham now," said Walsh.
He was met in the parade ring by his wife Gillian and their daughters Isabelle (4) and two-year-old Elsa after the win.
Victorious trainer Mullins also commended Hurricane Fly's efforts on the track.
"You're lucky if you ever come across a horse like this; you can buy good horses but to get something special like this, it comes around only once a generation."
Among the crowd yesterday were Leinster rugby players Dominic Ryan, Darragh Fanning and Ian Madigan.
"We all backed Hurricane Fly to win, so we're delighted," Madigan told the Irish Independent.
Despite the mixed conditions, the winter meeting was deemed a success, with 55,138 people spilling through the turnstiles in their furs and trilby hats, compared with last year's figure of 54,002.
Yesterday, 10,182 people turned out, nearly 2,000 more than the closing day last year.
Pat Keogh, chief executive of Leopardstown Racecourse, said: "We're trying to appeal to a wider audience and get more people interested in racing. We hope we'll do that -- it will take time to do, but we're very excited about being part of the NYE Festival into the future."