A First Lady of Irish Song

Watch exclusive video footage of the incomparable Ruby Murray

Well done to the following winners of the Songbirds competition who correctly identifyied Ruby Murray as the Irish songbird who made her stage debut at just 12 years old.

Ralph Lortie from Canada wins the DVD of the RTE series.
Wicklow's Patricia Burns has won the CD of the series.

We had many entries and those who missed out can watch some clips from the Songbirds series below.


The First Ladies of Irish Song is a series of six documentaries presented by Fil Campbell, which celebrate five women from very different areas of Irish music who sang the songs that everyone knew, became internationally famous, and paved the way for generations of Irish singers to follow them.

Here we bring you three exclusive excerpts from the programme on Ruby Murray, the popular singer from Belfast who once had a record-breaking five songs in the Top 20 at the same time.

Clip 1 (7.37MB) - The Early Years. Seane Keane and Fil Campbell sing 'Love's Old Sweet Song'. Includes an interview with Ruby Murray's lifelong friend Marie Cunningham.

Clip 2 (4.56 MB) - In March 1955, Ruby Murray had an incredible  five songs in the Top 20 at the same time: 'Heartbeat', 'Softly Softly', 'Let Me Go Lover', 'Happy Days and Lonely Nights', and 'If Anyone Finds This I Love You'. Musician John Sheahan, journalist Eddie McIlwaine and Phil Coulter discuss the impact of 'Softly Softly', with footage of Ruby singing the song.

Clip 3 (5.14MB) - Fil Campbell sings 'Softly Softly' and Ruby's son Tim remembers when he first realised that his mother's name was Cockney rhyming slang for curry.

Fil Campbell is a singer songwriter and performer of contemporary and traditional Irish folk songs. From Belleek in Co Fermanagh, she made her first public performance at the age of 5. Formerly a presenter with BBC Radio in Belfast, Campbell is a regular performer on the international folk scene and now lives in Rostrevor, Co Down with her husband Tom McFarland.

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