Ray Lynam is just happy to still be doing what he’s always loved to do – singing songs and making people happy, he tells Kay Doyle
Many country music aficionados agree that the vocal talents of Ray Lynam are the closest thing to the sound of Nashville that Ireland has ever produced. In his own humble way, the Westmeath man brushes off such a suggestion, and instead says that after over forty years in the music business he’s just happy to still be doing what he’s always loved to do – singing songs and making people happy.
It’s a tranquil weekday evening as we meet for a coffee in Wexford town, and so far 2016 has been treating the ever affable Ray very nicely indeed.
After the success of the reunited Hillbilly tour at the end of 2015, he and his long-term stage partner Philomena Begley have been touring with Mike Denver during January, a collaboration that will continue throughout February and March.
“Myself and Philomena are good friends with Mike and it has been good fun working together,” he says, “in fact, we’re all good friends on the Irish country circuit. Phil and I even sang together at Mike’s wedding, though it was very much an impromptu performance!”
Performing has been a way of life for Ray Lynam for four decades now. Born in the heart of the midlands, he was drawn to music from an early age, but didn’t start out playing the guitar like you might expect – he started off playing ‘sax’!
“I grew up in the main street in Moate, in Westmeath, and my dad, Patrick, was a baker,” he says. “My mother, Nora, ran the shop. It was a very pleasant childhood. I had two brothers, Padraic and John, John sadly passed away a while back.
“There was a piano in the house, and I learned the piano going to school. But one of my more striking memories is of the old record player that we had. From a very young age I was forever playing records. I can still remember clearly what the player looked like. It was one of those high ones, and right on the top was the turntable. I had to climb on the chair to put the LPs on but I really loved them, and listening to Radio Luxembourg.”