Country queen Kathy to crown 30th golf classic

First ‘Kathy Durkin Golf Classic’ took place in 1991 and has since raised close to €1 million for charity.

Country music so often tells the tale of ordinary people prevailing against seemingly insurmountable odds, and ultimately coming good at the end with spare hope for the future. It’s perhaps why Kathy Durkin, who later this month celebrates hosting her 30th annual golf classic at the PGA National Slieve Russell Hotel (Monday, August 22) and the specific music genre so align.

Years before her version of Rita MacNeil’s ‘Working Man’ spent an incredible one year in the Irish charts, and was voted best single in Ireland in 1991 and 1992, Kathy three years in and out of Dublin’s Crumlin Hospital where her first son Andreas, born without an oesophagus, was being provided with life-sustaining treatment.

That ordeal inspired Kathy to give something back, with the first ‘Kathy Durkin Golf Classic’ taking place in 1991, starting off at Cavan Golf Club before later moving to the Slieve Russell.

Over those three decades Kathy has helped raise close to €1 million for a range of different charities, both local and national, with the first being Crumlin Hospital for Sick Children, and the latest set to be Cavan Autism Parents Support (CAPS).

Today, Andreas is a full-time singer and a musician who has toured the world as part of the band, the Young Wolfe Tones, something, Kathy says, that was not foreseeable 42 years ago.

By virtue of the very fact she is so widely regarded as being one of Ireland’s leading female entertainers, a key element of the golf classic is Kathy’s ability to call on her fellow musicians for support each year. The upcoming 30th Anniversary celebration, put back by a year due to Covid, will be no different an an All-star cabaret is assured.

Aside from several as yet unannounced surprise guests, the night’s entertainment will include the likes of Olivia Douglas, Louise Morrissey, Gary Campbell, while former Irish international Niall Quinn will be among those making up the field of players on the day.

"It’s so good that if people don’t attend they feel they’ve missed out on something," says Kathy. "We’ve had huge names play, Leona and Lisa [Maguire] played a few times, and we’ve had the likes of the late Joe Dolan and Red Hurley provide entertainment after. So it’s always been a big event."

As in years past, funds are raised through the team fee of €500, and tee and green sponsorship, as well as a raffle and an auction which this year will be a portrait painting by Ballinagh’s Edward Sheanon of Ireland’s leading lady of golf, Leona Maguire.

Kathy though isn’t resting on her laurels. She figures there is enough effort left for at least five more years before the queen of Irish county music exits stage left and hand over the reins to her two son Andreas and Allen.

Andreas responds: "I remember mam saying she always wanted to give something back. I’m involved heavily for the last 15 or 20 years and you can see, by the number of people who return year in year out, the enjoyment people have had, and how much people respect what mam has been able to achieve as well through it."

Kathy is buoyed too by her little granddaughter Emma taking a keen interest. She recently visited the Slieve Russell with her plastic club set. "She’s full of enthusiasm and its great to see. Start them young. She’s only three but she’s full of fun, a real entertainer which I suppose isn’t much surprise."

Kathy concludes by thanking everyone for their support down through the years.

The event itself is ticket only, available at reception at the Slieve Russell.