b. 20 October 1945, Pomeroy, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Begley is the fourth child in a family of eight. Her father played accordion and her mother sang and, like many Irish performers, Philomena grew up with a love of country music. She worked in a hat factory and began singing part-time with the Old Cross Ceili Band, which, owing to the late 60s country boom in Ireland, became Country Flavour. In 1971, Philomena Begley and Country Flavour made the Irish Top 10 with ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow’, to be followed by ‘Never Again’. The following year she formed her own band, the Ramblin’ Men and had an Irish hit with ‘Ramblin’ Man’. Her subsequent Irish chart successes include ‘Wait A Little Longer Please, Jesus’, ‘Blanket On The Ground’ (number 5, while Billie Jo Spears reached number 11) and duets with Ray Lynam, ‘You’re The One I Can’t Live Without’ and ‘My Elusive Dreams’. Begley has appeared on Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry and has recorded at Porter Wagoner’s studios. She is a favourite at London’s Wembley Country Music Festivals and regularly tours the UK, both in her own right and as a support act to American performers. Despite her popularity as the Queen of Irish Country, Begley has no pretensions to stardom, happily living on the family farm with her husband and three children.
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