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learned to cope B*witched star Sinéad O'Carroll says she struggled with fame and used to 'panic' when surrounded by fans

Rising to worldwide fame as part of Irish girlband B*Witched in the 1990s, Sinéad O'Carroll knows what it's like to sacrifice privacy for stardom.

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Sinéad O’Carroll was in Croke Park for the launch of the 2021 Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps

Sinéad O’Carroll was in Croke Park for the launch of the 2021 Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps

Sinéad O’Carroll was in Croke Park for the launch of the 2021 Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps

Pop star Sinéad O'Carroll, of Irish girl group sensation B*Witched, looks back on her decision to take a leap into the spotlight back in the late 1990s, and wonders what possessed her.

It's not that Sinéad didn't have a passion for singing and performing, it's just that she valued her privacy - the loss of which is the price you pay for fame.

"Sometimes I think, 'How did I even end up being in a girlband?'" Sinéad laughs, chatting by Zoom with Magazine+ from a lounge in Croke Park.

"Sometimes I struggled with the fame. I struggled with people knowing who I was and the invasion of privacy.

"So, sometimes I do have those moments when I think, 'How did I do that job?'

"But I suppose everything happens for a reason.

"Even today when I haven't been gigging for a while I do get withdrawals. So there is that alter ego in there somewhere who loves to get up and perform."

B*Witched, who shot to fame with hits such as C'est La Vie, Rollercoaster and Blame It On The Weatherman, attracted a massive following in Europe and America between 1997 and 2002.

Famous for their distinctive double denim style, the all-girl group, which also included twins Edele and Keavy Lynch and Lindsay Armaou, were constantly pursued by fans at the height of their phenomenal success.

"It used to panic me," Sinéad reveals. "You'd be in an airport and the next minute you're surrounded by so many people. As time went on, I learned how to manoeuvre my way around that."

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Sinead O'Carroll

Sinead O'Carroll

Sinead O'Carroll

Sinéad admits there were times when she used to pretend to be the group's manager in order to escape the fuss.

"A lot of the time people would only recognise Edele and Keavy because they were twins, so they were very much the front people," she says.

"I kind of used that and I would pretend to be their manager and people would say, 'Oh my god! Can you ask the girls to come over for an autograph?' I'd say, 'You just wait there one second and I'll do that'. I used to do that constantly because I found the attention really intrusive."

Sinéad tells how some UK fans were so obsessed with B*Witched in those heady days that they staged vigils at airports to meet them.

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"There were these girls that used to sleep overnight in airports and I'd be really concerned for them," she tells.

"I was such an Irish mammy asking, 'Do your parents know that you're here? You need to ring them and tell them that you're safe'.

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B*Witched at the height of their fame

B*Witched at the height of their fame

B*Witched at the height of their fame

"It was always the same people that would turn up. This was before mobile phones and social media, but the fans back then had ways of finding out your itinerary.

"They used to ring the record company and they'd find out our schedule before we would know it. We'd arrive at the airport and ask, 'Where are we actually going?' They would say, 'You're flying to blah'. It was mad stuff."

Sinéad says she loved being constantly on tour, including in the States, where B*Witched supported Britney Spears and NSYNC.

"I think the best part for me was America where we got to be on tour every night for three months," she recalls. "We'd come home for two weeks and go back out again."

Their hectic schedule in the super league of pop meant that the girls missed lots of family events.

"You'd get your diary a year in advance and you'd just have to write everything off in your personal life," she continues.

"If you got home for Christmas that was a bonus, and a lot of the time we did, so that was grand. I think you just have to take your opportunities because they are short-lived in a pop career and your family want you to be doing what you're doing anyway."

Although their friendship survived the intense five years that they spent together on tour, Sinéad admits there were conflicts along the way, particularly between herself and Edele.

"Because we were so busy there were things that built up that we didn't sit down and have a discussion about," Sinéad says. "But there was a period of time when we were in LA for a bit and myself and Edele had a big argument.

"We were just going at each other and I don't think I spoke to her for about two weeks on the road.

"That kind of thing happened, but once we got it out, it was dealt with. Myself and Edele actually refer to that time as if we were a married couple."

And then, in a flash, their pop career was all over after a frenetic five-year period. "I didn't think it was going to end as quickly as it did," Sinéad admits. "I thought we'd get a few more years out of it.

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SINGING SENSATION: Sinéad O’Carroll still looks as stunning as ever

SINGING SENSATION: Sinéad O’Carroll still looks as stunning as ever

SINGING SENSATION: Sinéad O’Carroll still looks as stunning as ever

"It was really difficult. Like footballers, we were at the top of the Premier League in pop.

"We were flying on Concorde, staying in top hotels, having the high life, the best life, and you're up there having number ones and breaking records.

"You're at that top level and when that ends there is nobody there to talk to about it. What are you now going to do with your life?

"There is no care when you're doing it and no care afterwards.

"When you're young you kind of think you're going to do it forever. Then suddenly it was over, and that drop is really hard. It affected us all in different ways.

"I couldn't go to a gig for a long time afterwards. The fact that I wasn't going to be stepping on stage again as a band was actually heart-breaking.

"I remember Niall Quinn talking about his struggle to come to terms with the end of his soccer career and how his wife helped him get through it.

"There should be a duty of care to people, whether it's in sport, music, TV or whatever. I think that's really important."

In the aftermath, Sinéad also suffered a huge financial loss after investing all her money in property and getting stung in the 2008 financial crash.

But the mum-of-two has been resilient, working her way through the financial struggle with her husband, Mike, and rebuilding her career by managing a girl band, running a stage school, doing some acting and performing with the reformed B*Witched.

"We've all had difficult times as we talk about on our Starting Over podcast," she adds, "but we navigated them, got through them and we're still standing."

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SUPPORT: Britney Spears

SUPPORT: Britney Spears

SUPPORT: Britney Spears

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