The girl from The Downings was first up and as she sang her very first song one of the judges wrote down ‘winner’ and he meant of the overall contest. Young 16-year-old Rosie Carney came with a very high reputation having already toured America and with dates lined up in London but if anything she succeeded expectations. All three judges marked her song as a 10 – and the show had only just begun.

Rosie Carney

The sound was great for the first two acts Rosie Carney and Martin Muir but there afterwards it came and went with it probably at its nadir when James O’Donnell and Gerard McGonagle were playing and when Gina Harkin was playing and at its peak in the first two acts.

Martin was unfortunate in going out as his and James’s song One Nation were the two who just missed the cut. Neither will be available for the finals so perhaps that was at the back of the judges’ minds. Martin already has one through to the semis from the Rosatos heat and James got his other song You Face The Sea through scoring 9 out of 10 on all three judges’ scorecards.

String Fellas

Mark McKinney from String Fellas, who play regularly in Moville, went up next accompanied by 14-year-old singer from Derry, Ashley, who has a great voice. He sand a song ‘My Granda’s Brother Gerard’ about his great-uncle who was killed on Bloody Sunday. The crowd loved it and it made it through to the semis although his other song missed out.

Next up was Gina Harkin, who sang one of her brother Conal McKinney’s songs ‘Don’t Run’ which made it through and then accompanied her daughter Gina for her song ‘Not Ready to Talk’ which scored highly and got through. Jessica also got her other song ‘Dancing in the Shop’ through to the final with an even higher mark with one judge giving it a 10.

Spring Tides

The sound was probably at its worst when James O’Donnell and Gerard McGonagle played first time round and it may have been instrumental in James’s song One Nation not making it through. It had improved by the time they got up next time and James’s song ‘You Face The Sea scored highly to get through with all 3 judges giving it a 9.

Young Laura Bonner (although not as young as I had her down as in a previous CraicOn article, which she corrected me on by email) did really well and the bar staff there said that hers was the act that they enjoyed most.

Her first song Liquid Confidence scored highly and got through and next time up her other song Loaded Gun scored even more highly so she has both songs through going with the two she got through in Rosatos. If she gets another two through in the Sean Ti heat we may have to have a semi final just for her.

If you are curious I had her down as 15 when she is actually 19. I was told her age by a local publican whom I shan’t name.

Mickey McCarron from Muff was the only one not to get any of his songs through.He seemed very nervous and it may have been an off night for him.


Last up and first up for the second set of songs was heard rock band Deadpool from Derry. The acts would get up once and do an original and a cover and then get back up later to do the same. However, we put Deadpool up 9th and 10th as they were a full band so that they could do all of their songs together.

They got a tremendous reception from the crowd. They were very, very good. If any pub owners are reading this who have space for a full band they should get on to them. They got three perfect 10s for their first song Ink and three 9s for their second song That Time My Friend.

If you get a chance to see them do so. They remind of Stratospheric in their very early days when they played hard rock before their tastes in music mellowed.

Big Crowd

It was a very enjoyable evening and all the acts got warm applause. The crowd was even bigger than the one at Rosatos – pretty good for a Friday in early March. I can’t wait for the Sean To heat on April 5th when the champion Lawrence Hackett will enter the competition with his new song It’s Not Me (click to hear it).

Also entering the Contest for the first time is young Amanda Agnew from Bangor who plays in Belfast. Listen to her here – I Met You

Here’s the complete list of those that went through – Songwriter Contest Qualifiers