COUNTRY MUSIC icon Dolly Parton has spoken of the special bond she has with Ireland.
Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show Country Music Christmas Special, Parton said that her Irish fans "know when I am singing it, I mean it".
She told Tubridy that her unique bond with Irish country music fans stems from the fact many are able to empathise with the struggles she too experienced in her formative years.
"Well, I do believe that there is such a thing as really living something, feeling and knowing it," she said.
"A lot of people have the gift to write and be poetic, but there is something, I think it is why the Irish have always loved me and I have always loved them, we speak the same language.
"They appreciate and know what it is like to live hard and to be brought up poor and I think that they know when I am singing it, I mean it.
"And I believe that they know that I feel that emotion that I have that is just built in my, I call it my Smokey Mountain DNA, but is from those old songs brought over from Ireland and England.
“I sing those songs, I am living it again, I am feeling it, I am feeling it for myself and for everybody else.
"I think you know the real from the not real," she added.
"I look fake but everything inside me is real."
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The 74-year-old also opened up about the difficulties she endured in her career and a period in the 1980s in particular where she experienced major personal issues.
"I was going through a lot of stuff with family, a lot of decision making, with business partners, and people and things that were very important to me plus I was going through the change of life.”
Parton puts some of her issues at the time down to a hectic schedule.
"With the hormones going crazy, I was gaining weight. It was a very, very depressing period of time but I had never really thought that anything like that would hit me so bad because I had never slowed down enough.
"I went through a really bad period for a few months, I was really as down as you can be but I am such an open and sensitive person, I really couldn’t close myself away from pain, I have to deal with that like everything else.”
Eventually Parton was able to find solace with a higher power.
"I went through a bad time and I really found strength from God and Family, that is really what got me out of it. After I prayed myself through it, cried myself through it, I feel like that since that point on I am a better, bigger person."