Two Fermanagh acts were among the winners at the first ever Northern Ireland Country Music Awards hosted at the Seagoe Hotel, Portadown recently.

Fermanagh’s Gary Wilson was awarded ‘Best Comedy Act’ at a star studded event and Jonathan Milligan won ‘Best Country Musician’.

Gary commented: “It’s lovely to be recognised in this way, I love what I do but this makes it even more worthwhile.”

The brain child of Fermanagh showbiz consultant Malcolm McDowell, the winners were voted for by the public from far and near.

Over 40 artists performed on the night from throughout Northern Ireland and there were also visiting artists from the Republic of Ireland including Sandy Kelly who also co-hosted the awards alongside organiser Malcolm McDowell and Big T from Downtown Radio. The Seagoe Hotel was packed to capacity with thrilled Country Music fans who gathered from all over the province and from all over Ireland, some even flew in specially for the occasion from Scotland and England.

The crowds were not disappointed as all their favourite performers graced the stage one by one to sing, all backed by the hugely talented house band made up by Musical Director Jim McVeigh and backing vocals of the Benn Sisters.

Voted by the public, the winners are as follows:

Best Country Musician - Jonathan Milligan; Best Male Artist - John Rafferty; Best Female Artist - Patricia Maguire; Best Male Newcomer Award - Owen Mac; Best Female Newcomer Award - Patricia Maguire; Best Country Single - Chrissy Mac ‘Wiggle Wiggle’; Best Country Album - John Rafferty ‘Comfort of her Wings’; Best Music Video - Owen Mac ‘My Mother, My Teacher, My Friend’; Best Live Country Band - Barry Kirwan band; Best Country Backing Band - Ryan Turner Band; Best Country Duo - Country Harmony; Best Live Music Venue - Ramble Inn Antrim; Best Tribute Act - Cash Returns; Best Country Dance Venue - The Ryandale Moy; Gene Stuart Inspirational Award - Jordan Mogey; Best Comedy Act - Gary Wilson; Favourite Radio Presenter - Hugo Duncan; Favourite Country TV Show - Big T’s Country; Favourite Country Star of all Time - Philomena Begley; Best Songwriter - Paul Kelly and Andy Cox.

There was also a special award presented to Brian Coll to celebrate his 60 years in the industry.