Irish teacher and singer, Claire Nic Ruairí, became the first person from Derry to win at the Oireachtas na Samhna singing championships when she took home the Mháire Nic Dhonnchadha cup last month.
Claire, from Foyle Springs, has been singing ever since she was a young child but in recent years she developed a love for Sean-Nós (old style singing in Irish).
The competition took place in the City West Hotel outside Dublin and after performing two songs in front of a panel of three judges she was crowned the winner of her category.
“It was nice winning - it’s especially nice because it’s usually people who live in the Gaeltacht areas who win. I am delighted,” said Claire.
Claire performed a slow song called An Chéid Mháirt de Fhómhar (The First Tuesday of Autumn) and a more upbeat song called Sláinte na nÉanach (The Health of the Birds) for the judges.
“These songs are hundreds of years old and the more obscure the song the better,” said Claire.
Claire is a full-time Irish teacher but has taken a one-year career break to experience the life of a full-time singer.
In recent months, Claire spent three weeks touring the USA and she can also be heard singing in venues in Derry and Gweedore, Co. Donegal. Claire is also the current (part-time) singer in residence in an tSeanbheairic, Falcarragh.
“I developed my love of Irish on my own. My parents are not Irish speakers but they were delighted when I told them that I had won the competition.
“Now that I have won that particular category it means that I can return next year and compete at an even higher level - fingers crossed,” she smiled.