FOR Ireland’s Dominic Kirwan, there is always a warm welcome from his Celtic cousins whenever he revisits Scotland.
"From day one when I put a foot into Scotland and worked the regions, I just built a following that has become so loyal and I would say without a doubt they are the number one strength behind my fan base," the Inverness bound singer stated
"I remember the early days, even going as far up as Wick and Thurso, we did our groundwork in the little clubs. It’s always lovely to go to a theatre like Eden Court because it’s such an elite theatre in itself. It’s always an honour to play there."
Kirwan, who describes his sound as easy listening with a touch of Irish, country and classic rock and roll, is marking a special year in 2014.
"I got my first recording contract with Ritz Records back in 1989, so that’s now 25 years and the first time I played Eden Court was 25 years ago, guesting with Philomena Begley," he said.
That quarter of a century has seen big changes in the music industry, and not just in the move from vinyl and cassette to CD and now to downloads. Radio and television have also changed, adopting a similar format across the country that potentially makes things harder for new artists to get their name known.
"If I was starting out now would I put my head on the block for Britain’s Got Talent or The X Factor? How I’d come at it today, I really don’t know," he admitted.
Instead there is a whole new generation of Kirwan talent looking for a break in music.
Son Colm now lives in the USA’s country capital of Nashville trying to make a name for himself as a songwriter and supporting another familiar Eden Court visitor, Don Williams, on his US tour. Closer to home another couple of Kirwan brothers are also songwriters, drummer Barry and youngest son Jonathan.
"Is it a dynasty yet? Time will tell," Kirwan laughed.
"On my live CD and DVD Live and personal, I had Colm and Barry both on it. I’ve not done anything with my youngest son Jonathan yet, but I’d love to do something with them, of course I would."
Still music seems to flow in the family.
"My mother played piano at home and I was a young Irish dancer so there was always music around," Kirwan said.
"I was recognised vocally so it was case of the local charity show or the church ‘would Dominic sing a song?’ and these were all little doors that eventually got me into the music industry.
"One night you might be playing to a club with 10 people, the next night it might be 200 or the van breaks down on the roadside. All of these things you learn from all of the time, but when you are a younger man, it’s all exciting."
The Omagh singer might be established as one of Ireland’s biggest stars, but he admits he is always searching for that special song or the opportunity to raise his profile again.
"People are loyal, but you are only a number at a time and you do forget that things change and other people come along," he pointed out.
One potential opportunity to raise that profile might come with a chance to present a show on satellite television and perhaps discover new talent, a prospect that excites Kirwan.
First, however, there is a more familiar type of studio to visit.
"We’re just about to start recording at the end of this particular tour," Kirwan revealed.
"We can’t let 25 years go by without some kind of product, can we?"
• Dominic Kirwan appears at the Empire Theatre, Eden Court, Inverness, on Sunday 11th May.