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Irish dream becomes Tamworth reality
Singer Joanne McDonnell, to perform on opening night at Tamworth festival. Picture: Robert Dunca/The West Australian

The thought of gracing one of Australia's most famous musical stages has the Irish eyes of WA schoolteacher Jo McDonnell smiling.

Ms McDonnell, a dance teacher at Halls Head Community College for the past eight years, has won a $5000 scholarship with the Australian Academy of Country Music that will culminate in a performance on opening night of the Tamworth Country Music Festival on January 17.

"This is a real dream but you also have to remember it is business, too," Ms McDonnell said.

"At four or five years of age I wanted to be on stage and become a superstar and then I made a decision to be a dance teacher.

"Now I've just turned 33 and it's just happened, so why not just go for it?"

Ms McDonnell ran an Irish dance school at her former Bunbury home as she pursued a career as a catwalk model.

But music and lyrics have always been in her blood - her father and grandfather were tenors and her mother's grandfather was an Irish poet.

Her family moved to WA from Galroostown, Termonfeckin, in Ireland in 1990.