Country singer Sean O'Farrell’s son chosen for Louis Walsh’s new group
‘It’s an addiction, when it’s in you it’s very hard to shake’
BACK in the early ‘90s, former Irish country music star Sean O’Farrell was managed by the then little-known showbiz agent Louis Walsh.
Fast-forward 30 years and life has come full circle in the O’Farrell family from Co Meath as Louis is now managing Sean’s son, Conor, in his brand new and yet-to-be-named boyband, set to be launched in the coming months.
“Louis didn’t know in advance of the auditions that Conor was my son,” Sean tells the Sunday World. “When Conor showed up on the day in Vicar Street, Louis read through the CV and when he saw the name and address he looked up and said, ‘I know your dad’.”
In the ‘90s, Louis landed Sean a record deal with Ritz Records, whose biggest star was Daniel O’Donnell.
Sean would go on to tour with American country superstars Tammy Wynette, Kenny Rogers and Don Williams, as well as with Daniel.
Then in 1993, Walsh decided to launch Ireland’s answer to Take That…and Boyzone was born, going on to become pop sensations at home and in the UK.
“When Boyzone were going on the road we had just signed with Ritz Records and were working more in England,” Sean recalls. “Louis was doing more with the Boyzone lads here in Ireland and Ritz took over the running of my band’s concerts in England.
“As Louis got busy with Boyzone and we got busy touring England we decided to go our separate ways. It was all very amicable, there was never a cross word and Louis and I are still friends to this day.”
Sean hadn’t been in contact with Walsh for a couple of years before Conor’s audition for his new boyband, which also includes Harry O’Connell, 19, Conor Davis, 19, from Dublin, Nueng Kelly, 20, from Carlow and 17-year-old Navan native Joshua Regala.
“On the last day of the auditions Conor rang very excited,” Sean reveals. “Louis grabbed the phone out of his hand and said, ‘He’s in!’…and that was the first time in three or four years that I had spoken to Louis.
“I’m delighted for Conor and the rest of the lads in the group as there were a thousand kids going for it over a number of auditions. They are a lovely bunch of lads and they can all sing and play. They are really talented.”
Despite his own success and hits such as ‘Billy Can’t Read’, Sean left the music industry in 1997 and went into business.
“I left the business primarily because the work was all in England at the time,” he says. “We were gone for six and eight weeks at a time. I still remember the day when I was driving up the M6 and I said, ‘I’m really not enjoying this anymore’.
“The thought of being gone for that length of time just didn’t appeal to me anymore, particularly as I was getting married and settling down. I absolutely loved the shows and the music and the people, it was the other 21 hours of the day on the road wasn’t for me. I was lucky enough to have options to come back to.”
Sean still performs on Facebook and sings in his local church every Sunday.
“I still love to sing and that’s the problem, it never leaves you,” he says. “I just wasn’t cut out for the road. But I get as much out of the church on a Sunday morning.”
Ten years ago, Sean also dipped his toe back into the showbiz water when he toured Ireland and England with his friend, Daniel O’Donnell, and performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall. “It’s an addiction, when it’s in you it’s very hard to shake,” he laughs.
Now he’s happy to see his son, Conor, blossom in the world of pop music.
“Conor has been playing guitar for many years,” Sean says. “He was always fabulous singing in the house as well, but he was shy. It was his music teacher, Fergus Fallon in Castleknock College, who brought him out of his box. Fergus came to him and said, ‘You are auditioning for the school musical whether you want to or not’… and he got the lead. It was Miss Saigon and they won the national schools final and were on the TV with it.
“All of a sudden you just looked at him blossoming on the stage and I said, ‘Where did this kid come from?!’ But it was down to his music teacher Fergus, and Conor has said it to him since.”
Sean and his wife, Paula, gave Conor their blessing to join Walsh’s new boyband and live his dream. “When I heard Louis was involved I had absolutely zero reservations,” Sean says. “I said at the time, ‘If Louis is involved fire ahead, you won’t meet better and you won’t get better looked after.’ Once Louis was at the helm we were more than happy to say, ‘go for it and give it your all.’”
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