Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Ciaran is the 2023 Westmeath Bachelor!

Ciaran Clarke (29) from Rosemount has claimed the title of Westmeath Bachelor following a competition in the Arts Centre on Saturday night, 29 July.

The 29-year-old law student had judges laughing from the moment he stepped on stage. Ciaran later played his own original song with the help of a guitar and harmonica, sealing the crown.

Judges Louis Walsh, Anne Doyle, Pippa O’Connor and Brian Ormond all heaped praise on the performance, giving it the highest scores seen all night.

Tough competition for Ciaran came in the form of social media influencers Fabu-D and James Doyle, who have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers online, and also impressed the judges and crowds.

Mullingar’s Steven Colvert, Kerryman John Martin Carroll and Kilkenny’s John Coady all put on a good show, leaving little separating the six competitors.

Each bachelor was interviewed on stage one-by-one before returning after the intermission to perform their talent pieces, some of which included stand-up comedy, a poetry recital, and a Grease musical tribute.

A performance from Irish country singer Cliona Hagan then kept the crowds entertained as the judges totted up their scorecards.

The professionalism of presenters Shane Barkey and Sarah Jane Foster kept things running smoothly throughout, as the pair aim to bring the show to TV screens in 2024.Shane has also been the director of the competition since its revival last year.

In claiming the title of Westmeath Bachelor, Ciaran Clarke will be receiving a holiday of his choice, and a new wardrobe courtesy of Wilf’s Clothing Store in Mullingar.

Coincidentally, Ciaran was the first to take to the stage on Saturday, as last year’s winner Bryan Murphy from Kerry had been the year previous.

Louis Walsh was the first judge to question the eventual winner, asking him how becoming the Westmeath Bachelor would change his life: “Well, I could say I’m the best-looking man in Ireland,” joked Ciaran.

He also spoke of his career in law, which he has recently begun, and said how Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann changed his perspective on life.

“It was the best week of my life last year. I had been taking life so serious for a long time but when the Fleadh happened I stopped taking life seriously after having the craic for the week,” said Ciaran.

He later performed his own song Here We Go Again, which had “never left the bedroom before,” while simultaneously playing two instruments.

Brian Ormond, who scored the talent piece a 10, said “I felt like I knew the song even though I’ve never heard it before”.

He was also complimented by Louis Walsh for his stage presence and Pippa O’Connor for his bravery in performing the song in front of a crowd, having had no previous experience.

Second to the stage was Steven Colvert from Mullingar, a former international runner who now lives in Dublin and said he took part in the competition to add another string to his bow.
When asked why he deserved to win, he said “it’s a chance to show that Ireland is changing, it’s becoming more diverse and cultural so that’s why I decided to stand forward and represent the town”.

Steven later performed stand-up comedy for the first time in his life, and while he received mixed reviews from the judges – they were all unanimous in complementing his fearlessness by giving it a go.

Third-up was John Martin Carroll, from rural Kerry outside of Tralee. He spoke on his charity work and event organising skills, while also sharing some of the hardship he has been through in life.

John revealed that his mother and father have both died in the last number of years and he himself has overcome a lung cancer diagnosis.

His talent piece was reciting a poem which had been given to him 11 years ago on a card, when he had received his diagnosis, and has kept it on his person every day since.

“This is the first time ever saying this in public, but this poem gives me the strength. I had to get over my sickness, my mum getting sick, my dad getting sick, but thanks to the help of my friends I got through it,” said John.

The teary-eyed judges heaped compliments onto John and Anne Doyle said she appreciated his honesty as “the modern Irish man is not afraid to speak from his heart”.

Fabu-D, or BlackPaddy, was next to the stage and also spoke on his own hardship in life. Originally from Nigeria, the comedian emigrated to Dublin and became homeless at one point in his life.

He spoke on his experiences of sleeping rough at bus shelters and eating from soup kitchens, before rising from the struggles to become a full-time entertainer who is now famous and touring all over Ireland.

His talent piece consisted of some comedy before performing a rendition of Dancing in the Dark with the help of a guitar.

Louis Walsh said Fabu-D had the “X factor,” that he didn’t know how good he really was, and that he should on the television in the UK or the US such were his entertainment qualities.

John Coady from Kilkenny spoke on his busy work life, which included farming, bookkeeping, funeral directing and modelling. He was complimented by the judges for his work ethic and later danced dressed as John Travolta to some of the many hits from Grease.

Pippa O’Connor said “maybe dancing isn’t your best talent” about John’s performance but admitted he would make an excellent ambassador as the Westmeath Bachelor.

Louis Walsh said “I don’t know what happened, it wasn’t great” about the dance moves.
The final bachelor was 21-year-old James Doyle, the youngest competitor on the night, who is a social media star often called Protein Bor.

Originally from Killucan, James spoke of his ambition in life to become a TV presenter, which received great admiration from the judges. He went on to sing a cover of You’re Such a Good Looking Woman by Joe Dolan, walking off the stage and into the crowd as he sung.

Anne Doyle said his confidence “was fantastic” but that “I don’t think you have the best singing voice in the world”.

The other judges agreed, admiring the young man’s confidence.

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