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Pop flops The Irish celebs who failed to make it as pop stars -Colin Farrell, Donal Skehan and more


Actor Colin Farrell

Actor Colin Farrell

Getty Images for American Giving

Actor Colin Farrell

Liz Bonnin fronted RTE's Future Island series as part of its science special - and she was well qualified for it.

Dubliner Liz (45) certainly knows her science, having earned a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Trinity College, Dublin.

She also holds a master's degree in wild animal biology and conservation from the Zoological Society of London and the Royal Veterinary College.

But Liz - who was born in Paris to French Caribbean parents and moved to Ireland at the age of nine - began her climb to fame through the world of entertainment, particularly pop music.

Back in the late 1990s Liz was one of five young Irish women who were chosen to be in the girl group Chill.

After two years of living the high life and being put up in a posh London apartment, the girls were forced to look for part time jobs to pay the bills after they failed to release a single record.


Liz Bonnin

Liz Bonnin

Liz Bonnin

"We can't live off our family and friends forever," said Liz back then. She had joined the band in 1997 and they had supported Boyzone on tour.

"It can take a lot longer to break into the music business than people realise.

"But we are still a band and although it is all very demoralising, we are now resigned to the fact that success is not going to happen overnight."

Chill fell apart - but it led to bigger and better things for Liz.

As well as continuing her studies, the contacts she made in the band led to her getting TV presenting gigs in RTE, including as co-host of fashion series Off The Rails, Telly Bingo and The Den, and in 2002, she moved to London for presenting work.

Liz is not the only pop flop whose initial push for fame and riches ended up going pear-shaped, but led to something completely different - and even more worthwhile.

DONAL SKEHAN is another prime example of a budding pop star moving on to bigger and better things.

The 34-year-old Dubliner is today best known as one of TV's most famous chefs, whether he's presenting cooking programmes on RTE or making guest appearances on ITV's This Morning show.

Donal also has nearly one million subscribers to his YouTube channel, where he gives tips on how to make perfect meals.


Donal Skehan

Donal Skehan

Donal Skehan

But he originally tried to make it in the pop music business and has been a member of several groups.

In 2006 he became part of the international boy band project Streetwize, which toured Ireland, the UK and Sweden, and even appeared on US TV before folding.

In 2008, Skehan took part in Eurosong 2008 in a bid to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Double Cross My Heart, but he lost out to Dustin the Turkey.

The following year Donal joined the Irish band Industry alongside Englishman Lee Hutton - who was his former bandmate in Streetwize - and Irish women Michele McGrath and Morgan Deane. They had a couple of Irish chart hits and supported The Pussycat Dolls at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney. But they too failed to make it in the UK and broke up in 2010.

VOGUE WILLIAMS tried her hand at breaking into the pop business.

The 35-year-old is today best known as a TV presenter, DJ, wife of TOWIE star Spencer Matthews and ex-wife of singer Brian McFadden.


Vogue Williams

Vogue Williams


Vogue Williams

But Vogue recently confessed that she once tried her hand at joining a girl group Louis Walsh was trying to form.

"I can't even remember which one it was," she recalls. "I was about 16. I am such an awful, awful singer, but I always wanted to be in a band and me and my friend always auditioned for things. I got through quite a few rounds, but it wasn't enough.

"I don't think the band went anywhere. I know Louis and I've never actually brought it up with him."

It's still unclear which group Vogue may be referring to but it may have been for reality TV group Six.

Six were created from RTE's version of Popstars and Nadine Coyle was famously thrown off the show after it was found out she was underage. Despite having a huge hit in Ireland in 2002, Six eventually folded.

Vogue, meanwhile, studied for a degree in construction studies at college, but while she worked on building sites for several months she rose to fame on RTE reality show Fade Street when she was a DJ and model.

COLIN FARRELL also tried his hand at making it into one of Louis's groups, when he went to audition for Boyzone in Dublin in November 1993.

The aspiring pop star was just 17 when he was approached by Louis in the capital's POD nightclub and was asked to go along to the auditions.

"I murdered it," he recalls of his version of George Michael's Careless Whisper, and he failed to make the cut.

Colin continued his efforts in showbiz, however, taking part in line dancing for a while before going to acting college in Dublin.

From there, he landed a role in Ballykissangel and was persuaded by Kevin Spacey at a play in London to move to Los Angeles, where he's since become an A-list actor worth over E30 million.

MARK WALTON did make Boyzone but was eventually dropped before they made the big time.

The 44-year-old was one of the initial six members of the band who made their famous debut appearance on the Late Late Show.

But several months later Mark was turfed out by Louis as he thought he did not fit in.

Mark tried his hand at the music business again with another pop group, Fifth Avenue, who broke up without much success.

Mark moved to Los Angeles, where he became a record producer, working with the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Shaggy and Enrique Iglesias. He also went on to be a judge on Vietnam's Pop Idol.

But his behind-the-scenes work has made him richer than anyone else involved in entertainment from this country. Even though he's relatively unknown here, Mark claims to be a billionaire.

"I never planned to be in a position where I could be a billionaire from Ireland," he recently disclosed.

"Right now, I have the crazy glamour, big-name side to what I'm doing in my career that I think no one expected of me.

"And I intend to do a lot more with it than buy Lamborghinis and spend my time on the beach."

CECELIA AHERN may now be a best selling novelist worth over €15 million but she was previously a budding pop star.

She joined Dublin quartet Shimma, who tried to represent Ireland in the Eurovision in 2000, but they finished third in Eurosong.

"We were awful," she recalls. "The four of us together were so bad. "Individually we were all good and then we came together, put sparkles in our hair and on our jeans and it all went downhill."

The band was dropped by their record company and Cecelia instead went to college to do a writing course.

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Online Editors