By Ryan McBride

Sligoman Tommy Fleming has had a stellar singing career since the early 1990s, but it was somewhat inevitable. Coming from a musical background, his family were all musical, all singers. He didn’t struggle to choose this road.

“I don’t think it was ever a decision I made, I think the decision was made for me. I’ve been singing since I was four or five, so it’s always kind of been an extension of myself, it’s nearly like having another limb.”

Not simply a singer, Fleming knows how to set himself apart, recording many covers that seem distinctively his. “Taking a classic like Stephen foster’s ‘Hard Times’ and making it your own, I think that’s all down to production and asking what is your own. What stamp can you put on it?

“And as long as you can keep yourself on it, and you’re not trying to emulate anybody else, then you keep originality.”

The sense of storytelling that comes with his songs couldn’t but attract interest from drama figures. He had been offered “more scripts than he could throw a stick at”. So when the opportunity to join the show ‘Paddy’ came along, he thought he wouldn’t be interested. But then, he read it.

 “This one was very different. It was given to me a year ago and I looked at the script and thought it’s very interesting. When I went on tour in Australia that was my reading material. I ended up getting engrossed in the whole script part of it. I thought ‘do you know something? This could be really good’. And I loved the story in it. It’s a good change in direction for me.”

Continue reading in this month’s All-Ireland Finals Annual