Talented cousins back each other for final
Cousins Catherine and Kieran McKillop are backing each other to win after they both landed the chance of a lifetime.
Kieran will be singing in the final of The Voice of Ireland while Catherine is hoping to be the new Therapie Miss Northern Ireland.
The cousins live next door to each other in Feystown near Ballymena and have been friends since they were kids.
Fashion student Catherine was in Dublin for the semi-final last weekend with a busload of family to cheer Kieran on and he’s pledged to return the favour at the Miss Northern Ireland final in May.
When she won Miss Gillies in Ballymena last month Kieran was one of the first people at her home to offer congratulations, and she was confident the 23-year-old would get a final place.
“We go on nights out on the town together all the time and I’m always hitching lifts with him,” says Catherine.
“He’s more like a brother to me.
“He was so happy for me when I got through Miss Northern Ireland and he’s promised to come to the final, although that might be because there will be lots of beautiful young women there.”
Behind his confident façade she says Kieran, a joiner, farmer and sheepdog trainer, has battled his nerves to perform. He was initially on Una Foden’s team on the show but after losing her vote in the battle round he was picked up by mentor Rachel Stevens.
“He is genuinely a really nice person. Sometimes he puts on a front about being a player but behind it he’s nervous about going on stage. He’s not cocky and he doesn’t take himself too seriously,” says Catherine.
“He’s a really hard worker who helps out on the farm and does the sheepdog training as well as his day job. It would be great for him if people got behind him on the show because he’s a really talented singer.
“We have all known how good he is since he started performing in a band with his cousin Declan when he was a teenager,” says Catherine.
Kieran earned his place in the final with his own version of Ed Sheeran’s Give Me Love.
He’s delighted with cousin Catherine’s final place in the Sunday World-backed Therapie Miss Northern Ireland and has pledged to be there to support her in the final.
“I want to be back in time for the Miss Northern Ireland pageant. Catherine is having a fantastic year,” says Kieran.
But things were a little less glamorous for him when he got a break from rehearsals in Dublin recently.
“I got back up home for a night and the next morning my father came in a told me to go and sell a couple of cattle.
“That brought me back down to earth again, and the price I got for them wasn’t bad,” he says.
Kieran has taken heart from the show’s choreographer who has talked the finalists through their stage moves.
“She is very good at getting the best out of people. She’s told us you have to make yourself so uncomfortable and once you go as far as that you can then bring yourself back to where you are comfortable.
“It’s definitely working for me. She is the one to listen to. It’s been a lot of work and it’s tough but you’re learning so much.”
He’s thanked the public who voted for him last weekend and says the family support has been invaluable.
“I’m ecstatic I have got this far. I don’t think it has even sunk in yet.
“I really appreciate that people are voting for me and it’s great to know that the public, and my family, are behind me,” says Kieran.