Hugo Duncan: Friends reunited at annual bash
In what has become something of an annual ritual, I linked up with some performers and others associated with the Ulster country music scene for a get-together at the Angler's Rest in Katesbridge last week.
I must say it was great to enjoy the company of people like Billy McFarland, Gene Fitzpatrick, Kenny Archer and Joe E Hamilton, along with numerous others, for a meal and the craic.
This was something that started off in a very small way - a cup of tea in our hands, if you like - but has since become a much-anticipated annual gathering, where we dine well and then swap stories and generally bring one another up to date on what is happening on the scene.
I am always impressed by the way country singers and musicians are prepared to give of their time to assist good causes, and that admiration increased when, during the chat, I got to realise just how much effort artists put in to helping those less fortunate than themselves.
One of our top promoters is Sean Wallace, and he was the man who organised the get-together, at which the food provided by the Angler's Rest was excellent.
Meanwhile, I was very sorry to learn of the death of Brendan McCrystal, husband of Jean, who is proprietor of Jean's Country Music Store in Omagh.
Jean has a long association with country music and has played a big part in helping to sustain its popularity.
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Her shop is a mecca for performers and fans and, as well as overseeing her business, Jean is also known for promoting shows.
She has helped many good causes in the past, given that she is a lady of a very charitable disposition, and is hugely popular in Omagh and throughout Tyrone.
I extend my sincere sympathy to Jean and her family on their sad loss.