Reigning Westmeath Bachelor Bryan Murphy told Topic that receiving the title “opened doors” for him in his life, as a now full-time musician.
The 26-year-old Kerryman from Tralee entered the competition for fun but went all the way after impressing judges with his self-professed “Kerry charm” and pop-medley performance on his accordion.
Since then, he has toured as a solo musician all over Ireland and is recognised as the Westmeath Bachelor wherever he goes.
“I meet lots of people who know me now up and down the country – they come up and they say, ‘are you the Westmeath Bachelor?’ when I’m at different gigs and what not,” Bryan said.
“It’s definitely opened doors for me, I’ve been speaking on the radio a number of times since and I’ve met people who I never would have had the chance to meet if I didn’t win the show.”
Bryan will return to Mullingar on 29 July for this year’s competition to handover the crown, and has nothing but fond memories of the town.
“It was a fantastic festival; I had an absolute ball and Mullingar is a great town with a great community. We had some serious craic up there, so we did! Let’s just say it’s a great town for the liquor too,” he said.
“The music was incredible at the festival, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process of the competition. I was very sad leaving Mullingar I must say.
“Us bachelors have all kept in touch too, we have a group chat there and meet up every now and again, they were a great bunch of lads.”
Bryan was the first of 13 bachelors to take to the Arts Centre stage last year and recalled how nervous he was beforehand.
“I do a lot of stage work but I’m always nervous to get on stage! Before the competition my whole body was shaking, I was trembling, but my Kerry charm kicked in and I managed to get around it.
“When my name was called out as the winner I couldn’t believe it, I thought another guy was going to win who put on a very good performance on stage.
“I couldn’t believe it, to tell you the truth, but it was a huge honour to be chosen over so many other top guys with amazing personalities, so it truly was a huge honour altogether,” he said.
Bryan joked that he hasn’t settled down yet: “I’m still a bachelor and I’m going to stay that way for another while, give me a chance! I’m living the rock’n’roll lifestyle at the moment with the music, but I’ll settle down someday,” he said.
“Music is my life at the moment, I actually have a gig in Mullingar coming up on the horizon, but I absolutely love it. I love performing in front of people, I love entertaining people – there’s no better feeling.”
He said he’ll be “disappointed” to handover the crown on July 29, but admitted he’s had his time in the role and that the next person deserves a go.
“If I had to give any advice to the bachelors taking part this year, I would say to just be yourself. If you’re being yourself, that will come through and people will see that which is the most important thing.”
Bryan said he found it funny a man from Tralee won the Westmeath Bachelor Competition while a woman from Westmeath won the Rose of Tralee competition last year.
“It’s hilarious! Rachel Duffy seems really nice too but unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to meet her yet. I’m sure we will cross paths at some point.”
Tickets for the 2023 Westmeath Bachelor Competition can be purchased through the Mullingar Arts Centre, either online or by phone.