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My people: Eimear McGeown on her special relationships

By Kerry McKittrick

The 32-year-old award-winning flautist is originally from Craigavon but now lives in London. She will be performing at the Clandeboye Festival Soloists Gala tonight.

My best friends

I met Alicia Hart when I moved to London at 18 to study music. She's a musician and composer as well, and we connected straight away.

Whenever I played at the last night of the Proms in Belfast she arranged one of the pieces for me to play with the orchestra. It was lovely having her there with me on a really special night.

My other friend is Cora McGee, who I met in Craigavon - we grew up playing Irish music together. She trained as a nurse and moved to London when we were 21, so we went on to have 10 years of great fun together.

Parents, Damian and Anita

My parents both still live in Craigavon and are both recently retired.

My mum was a psychiatric nurse and dad was a clerical officer for Translink. I also have a brother, Daire, and sister, Erin.

We're from a very musical family and all learned instruments when we were young. I have been so lucky with the most supportive parents anyone could hope for. I decided I wanted to play the flute when I was seven after hearing someone playing the instrument on the radio and my parents helped me to buy the instrument and have lessons.

Person I go to for advice

I'd go to Alicia and my mum would be second in line.

Alicia and I work in the same industry and have the same outlook on life, so she's the first person I would go to.

My celebrity crush

It's definitely Robert Downy Jr. It's not just his looks - he has such a charming character and cheeky with it. Every time I see him being interviewed he has a real glint in his eye.

My mentor

I've been very lucky to have a few mentors. When I was growing up, I had a music teacher called Elizabeth Bicker. She would organise traditional music festivals and gave me lots of opportunities to perform, which was great for my confidence.

Barry Douglas has been an amazing influence on my career, too. I won the Young Musician of the Year competition at the Clandeboye Festival in 2006 and for the next year Barry promoted me, helping me perform in concerts and on TV all over the world.

He opened up so many doors for me and that was when my career took off. We've been collaborating ever since, he's bringing me to South America as a soloist in October and I've played on his new album - even a couple of my own compositions.

Fantasy dinner party

My first guest would be the Dalai Lama because I love that he lives his life for others and really wants to make the world a better place.

Then, I'd ask Richard Attenborough because I love to travel and I love elephants. I could ask him loads of questions about the places he has been to and about his up close experience with elephants.

Next, I'd ask Roger Federer - I love tennis and I've always been a Federer fan because I love that he is successful, but not arrogant.

He does lots of charity work and that is something I admire in him.

Finally, of course, I'd ask Robert Downey Jr - I think he would be great craic because he's such a joker - and he's not bad to look at either.

  • The Clandeboye Festival runs until tomorrow. For festival information call 028 9185 2263 or go to

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