A special birthday present enabled this Fanad woman to fulfil a life-long dream of peforming and recording music, and writing her own songs.
With her disarming smile and piercing green eyes, Anne McConigley, looks the picture of happiness now that she has finally decided to follow her dream.
Most people who know Anne would know her as Anne Biddie, a name she proudly recalls belonged to her great grandmother, a woman who was an independent sheep farmer in her day.
When Anne turned 40, her life dramatically changed.
For years, Anne wanted to sing. As Anne’s birthday approached her sister Julie spoke to Terry McGinty, a producer in Ballybofey, to seek advice in relation to Anne’s dream. Julie told Terry that Anne wanted to record a CD and on her birthday in June, Anne was presented with the means to do it.
“It was great. It was something that I always wanted to do. I was speechless when they presented me with the vouchers. I started working on the album in September and by January 2011, we were all gathered in the Milford Inn for the launch. A number of local musicians performed on the night,” she recalled.
Her CD, ‘Country Music in My Soul’, was a huge success. Anne has been offered guest spots at gigs at launches and at special events. She has also featured on Hot Country on Sky 201.
“I have never sang so much. Now, I am doing what I wanted to do twenty years ago. Everyone has something which they want to do with their life -- for me it was music,” she said.
Anne took to the stage last year and this year at the Country Festival in Letterkenny. During last year’s festival she met one of her favourite country stars, Philomena Begley, who offered Anne some kind words and advice on how best to continue with the growth of her career.
Anne believes that her talent for singing came from the Sweeney side of the family. Biddie Sweeney lived in the Fanad area beside the iconic lighthouse.
“Her son was Charlie, my grandfather, and he was known to have been a very good singer. Unfortunately I never met him. I would have loved to have met him. Everyone says to me ‘you must have taken after your grandfather’,” she said.
When Anne was young she loved to sing. Every Sunday she sang in the chapel choir. When summer came, her relations would come over from Scotland armed with music from Charlie Pride, Brian Coll and Philomena Begley, among others. They would walk to the lighthouse and sing songs as the seagulls flew overhead.
Like many children at that time, Anne would have competed in fleadhs and feis competitions, and later she began to sing in pubs. She loved every minute of it, and dreamt of the day that she would become a professional singer.
“I love singing. I love anything to do with music. It lifts you up when you are feeling down and lifts you even higher when you are happier,” she said.
This year, Anne began to prove her talent in earnest. Unlike many other talented singers, Anne has recorded a single, a song that she has penned herself. The song, which has received huge airplay on Highland Radio and further afield, is one that promises to be a huge hit for the Fanad singer. She has also produced a DVD for the single.
“I wanted to do another CD. I called Terry McGinty and told him that I was thinking of singing a song that I had written myself. He said, ‘Let’s hear it’, and it continued from there,” she said.
Her new song, “Maybe not today”, promises to ensure Anne a lengthy career, proving that not only can she sing but that she can also write excellent songs. Her new single also boasts an excellent group of musicians, with Damien McGeehan on fiddle and Alan McGuckian on guitar.
Anne is also poised to record another two songs that she has written herself. One of the songs is dedicated to her mother, Helen, who lives in Fanad.
Anne’s family play a huge part in her life. Her husband, Davaddog, and her two daughters, Sarah, 19 and Eimear, 14, are very proud of her.
“At the moment I am working on my forthcoming album. It will probably be out by the end of the year – there is no point in rushing it,” she said wisely.
Many of her fans will be hoping that her next album will be out sooner rather than later, but they will be happy to know that Anne’s singles will be played locally and nationally before they will be sold together on an album.
Anyone who would like Anne’s new single or her CD can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Fans can also see her work online at the web site You Tube, where they can view the video Anne produced to coincide with her single, “Maybe not today”.