A CORK singer has pledged to donate some of the proceeds from her first album to the charity that assigned her a guide dog.
When Clair Butler, from Cobh, was just eight, she received the heartbreaking news that her sight was deteriorating.
She began training with a long cane before finally being introduced to her first guide dog, Ashey, on her 18th birthday.
Now, aged 27, she has just completed her first album, Stormy Weather.
The CD was two and a half years in the making and caters for a melting pot of musical tastes.
Ten per cent of funds raised from the project will go to the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Clair was born with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision-impairment.
However, she refuses to allow the condition to limit her.
“At eight years old, I was told that I would lose my sight,” the MA student of ethnomusicology said.
“It was easier to tell me at a young age, so it wouldn’t hit me as hard.
“I never dwelled on it negatively, at the time. In fact, I can remember telling quite a few people. This was something that made me different. In my mind, that meant I was special.”
Clair’s father, Brian, who has the same condition, has been a hugely positive influence in her life.
“He has two masters and a PHD. That’s why I always knew I would go on to lead a full life. I never once thought this was going to hold me back.”
Clair lives in Cobh with her parents and three dogs.
“Ashey retired just a year ago, but still lives with us. He’s good friends with my new guide dog, Helly, even if they didn’t get along at first. Not being with me all the time was a huge transition for Ashey.
“He was in the recording studio with me for much of the album I recorded. Enzo is my dad’s guide dog and Sheeba is the pet!”
Clair is proud to be a role model for children with visual impairments.
“I’ve spoken to the parents of children with visual impairments who were slow to encourage them to aim too high, in case they were disappointed.
“After meeting me, they admit that they were wrong to think this way. They said that seeing me achieve my goals has made them feel more positive about their own child’s future.”
The singer recently performed her first sell-out concert, in Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh.
“I was really nervous that nobody would turn up, but there were so many people, they had to improvise and borrow chairs from a nearby restaurant. It was a great feeling.”
Clair is looking forward to the future.
“I’ve been putting a lot of energy into the academic side of things.
I’m looking forward to fully immersing myself into the music now and seeing what opportunities come my way.”
Stormy Weather is available to buy from Pro Musica, Isabella Ru in Cornmarket Street, Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, and the headquarters for the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The album was recorded in Blackwater Studios and includes songs such as ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ and ‘Can’t Help Loving That Man’.