Sligo Live a place of homecomings after 10 years
The countdown is finally over. Sligo Live officially kicks off tomorrow and ten years of music has brought a decade of the industry's biggest names.
But the festival has also acted as a place of homecomings over the years. This is not only the case for fans, but for the acts too, as illustrated by O'Hooley and Tidow who play at The Hawk's Well this Friday night.
Speaking to The Sligo Champion, Belinda O'Hooley talked about her father's birthplace of Monalea, Aclare, her childhood holidays in South Sligo, and her cousin Tommy Fleming.
The Yorkshire woman said: "I grew up singing in cow sheds with Tommy. While the cows were being milked, Tommy and I would sing and that is really when my love for harmonies started."
Belinda added: "I have really strong memories of my holidays in Sligo. We would come over every summer and Christmas. To me, throughout this incredible journey, the icing on the cake is coming home to perform in Sligo. I really do think of this as coming home."
And when Belinda and her partner Heidi take to the stage this weekend, they will be surrounded by family, including her father who is flying over for the gig.
One family member who won't be making the journey however is Belinda's aunt Alice. Alice, 90, is in Bailey's Nursing Home in Tubbercurry.
Belinda said: "My aunty used to write stories. She is a big influence on me. I even sang for the residents at Bailey's a little while ago and she loved it.
"There are a lot of influences in my family. My dad's brothers are all musicians and my uncle, Tony Howley, travelled all over Ireland performing."
And Belinda can see typical Irish traits in herself as a result. She is down to earth, as is her partner Heidi. Belinda was more than excited to tell me about the time they recorded in a studio next to U2's Bono and The Edge, an enthralling experience for a pair of "ordinary folks".
And even though their third album 'The Hum' is receiving rave reviews from all over the UK and Ireland, their feet remain firmly planted on the ground.
"My Irish aunt and uncles wouldn't have it any other way," Belinda asserts.