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Miriam Donohoe: Ignore the sneerers, Crystal Swing are doing us proud

When the ESRI said this week that a strong export performance would help us out of our recession, I don't think they had the County Cork singing sensations Crystal Swing in mind.

The group, consisting of two teenage kids and their mother, did more for Ireland with their appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres chat show in the US than a thousand ministerial Paddy's Day visits or IDA trade missions ever could. (Watch it on YouTube).

Mary Murray-Burke and her children Dervla (16) and Derek (18), from Lisgoold, wowed millions of viewers when they performed two songs and spoke enthusiastically of Ireland on the programme.

As most of the country knows by now, with their unique country music style the family were turned into an overnight pop sensation when a video of them performing a cover version of He Drinks Tequila became one of the most watched items on YouTube.

Ellen DeGeneres, a well-known US comedian turned chat show host, featured it on her programme on St Patrick's Day -- and such was the reaction she invited the trio to travel to Los Angeles to appear live on her show.

Predictably, there has been mixed reaction to the group on various websites. And, even more predictably, a band of Irish knockers has been out in force.

Many said they were mortified and embarrassed that the old country music style of Crystal Swing was being held up as representative of Ireland's musical output.

One web posting described them as an unintentional comedy act, adding: "There is little quality in this act and as a result this bland silliness would be ideal for Eurovision!"

Another said: "Bland, predictable country music like this is the scourge of many talented musicians in Ireland and around the world."

But the worst web posting said Crystal Swing seem to be replacing Jedward, economic collapse and Church scandals as the latest inducement to national suicide.

Oh please, can we get a grip.Far from an embarrass-ment, Crystal Swing are a refreshing change from the depressing trail of greedy bankers and builders who have left this country in a financial mess.

They are a shining light in what has been a very dark period for the country. We need more of them.

There is nothing artificial or false about this group. They have not been manufactured by a Louis Walsh type, nor are they taking advice from a show biz agent.

No, the Burkes are simply being themselves. They love music, they are Irish, and they are proud of it.

When they appeared on the show they didn't forget where they came from. They spoke glowingly of what a beautiful country Ireland and their home county of Cork is. They presented DeGeneres with a bottle of Jameson whiskey crafted in their local town of Midleton. The Tourism Ireland bosses must have thought all their Christmases came together as a video of the Burkes showing viewers around Co Cork was aired.

Derek's rendition of his signature song, Brendan Boyer's The Hucklebuck, was a huge hit. He soon had Ellen and the audience, who had never heard anything like this before, rocking.

Mary Murray-Burke always had a dream of becoming a professional singer and forming her own band.

Fair play to her, she achieved her dream later in life than she intended, with her children in her footsteps.

Let's ignore those who have been sneering at Crystal Swing. Let's celebrate them as an example of what is great about Ireland.

We have the good weather. We have the ESRI promising economic growth next year. And we have Crystal Swing. Relax. All is not bad.