Mary Coughlan sang the odd time and never thought her voice was exceptional but slowly realised she could be a performer.

As a schoolgirl in Taylor's Hill, County Galway, Mary Couglan had no idea she was a talented singer. Her vocal register was considered too deep for the school opera and was not suited to singing hymns.

At one point Mary Coughlan toyed with the idea of being a fashion designer, but could not face another three years of study beyond the Leaving Certificate. Instead she became a life model at the Limerick College of Art before going to London where she was employed as a road sweeper.

That was great fun.

After living stayed in London for two years she felt the need to return to Galway. At this point she,

Got married, settled down, had children and that was that for a few years.

During this period Mary Coughlan used to sing a bit, but had no ambition to be a singer.

I never thought it was good enough I mean I didn't think there was anything exceptional or even good about my voice.

A friend the Dutch musician and producer Erik Visser recognised her worth and wanted to collaborate with her. They entered a talent competition in Salthill,

That was the start of it.

People who came to the gigs were enthusiastic and Mary Coughlan discovered how much she enjoyed rehearsing and performing. While they did not win the talent competition the experience made her more determined,

I’ve been inflicting myself on people ever since.

This episode of 'The Performers' was broadcast on 29 July 1986. The presenter is Siobhán Cleary. The producer and director is Tony Barry

Siobhán Cleary made her name on 'The Gay Byrne Show’ on RTÉ Radio One. For the summer late night chat and music television series ‘The Performers’, she interviews people from various musical worlds including jazz singer Honor Heffernan, classical pianist John O’Connor, entertainer Joe Dolan and Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains.