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All the best: Frances Black on her favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

The 54 year-old singer began her career with the Black Family before becoming successful in her own right. She lives in Dublin with her husband Brian Allen and has two children, Eoghan (33) and Aoife (31), and will be at the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival this Sunday.

My best moment

It sounds cliched but for me there are two — having Eoghan and Aoife. I was 19 when I had Eoghan and 21 when I had Aoife,  and they were life-changing moments for me. They transformed the pathway of my life and have brought me the most unbelievable joy. To this day they are the most important things in my life.

My best song

The one that stuck out for me most of all is a Carol King song from her album Tapestry — the song is of the same name. That album was my introduction to music and a key turning point in my life. It’s still one of my all-time favourite songs.

My best way to relax

It would have to be walking the hills of Rathlin Island (right). My father comes from there and the old family home is still there. I spend any time I can up there — I’ve been four times already this year. I can’t get enough of it, as it’s the one place I feel grounded and at peace. It’s the ultimate place for me to be relaxed.

My best job

I founded a charity called the Rise Foundation which supports families of those with addictive behaviour and my best job would have to be as a therapist for the organisation.  Apart from my singing, working with families is the ultimate job and it’s extremely rewarding. Particularly when you see a person begin to improve and step into their own recovery.

My best bit of advice

There was a friend of mine, Frankie Brown, who passed away many years ago and he taught me about gratitude. He said to me, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, it’s the parent of all the others”. When I get stressed now I try connect with gratitude which helps me realise what I have and my own motivation.

My best gift

Again, this came from my friend Frankie. He found a stray puppy walking along the canal in Dublin and asked me to come and have a look at it. I fell in love with the dog straight away and Frankie gave him to me as he wasn’t able to look after him. Blackie has been with me now since 2002 and has been the best gift as he’s brought me so much joy.

My best achievement

For me, it was getting the Rise Foundation off the ground. It was always a dream of mine to set up something like this, but now I see lives being changed on a daily basis and it’s very rewarding for me.

My best buy

My home. It’s not just a house but a haven to me. It’s a wonderful place to come home to after a tour, or after a long day at Rise. There’s nothing like having a nice place to rest your weary body.

My best book

Years ago I read The Countrywoman by Paul Smith, which is a story about a young woman in Dublin in the Twenties, Thirties and Forties. I couldn’t put it down because it reminded me so much of my mother and her story and the hardships she went through.

My best film

The Shawshank Redemption is probably one of the most amazing movies of all time, but there’s also the Life Of Pi. It had a huge impact on me and blew me away. I’ve seen it twice now and want to watch it again because each time I’ve seen something different in the movie.

  • For tickets and information about the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival go to

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