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mixed Filans Westlife's Shane Filan reveals family heartache ahead of Irish concerts announcement

Star reveals how he broke down when big tour plans brought back memories of his proud dad who he now celebrates in a new song

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Kian, Mark, Shane and Nicky reveal new world tour

Kian, Mark, Shane and Nicky reveal new world tour

Kian, Mark, Shane and Nicky reveal new world tour

On his car journey from Sligo for Friday's launch of Westlife's concert at the Aviva next July, Shane Filan reveals that he became emotional and broke down.

Still navigating his way through the grief of losing his father, Peter, last October and his mother, Mae, the previous December, the pop star had a sudden urge to phone his dad, the man he called "my hero", for a chat about the exciting events unfolding.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday World, Shane says: "Yesterday I found it very difficult coming up in the car. I just had a moment where I got really, really upset. I just missed Dad and I really wanted to call him.

"I mean, he'd be buzzing today with Aviva. Ah, he'd be like, 'That's class! Can't wait now.' He'd be excited about it. He was so proud, both my parents were."

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Shane with his wife Gillian

Shane with his wife Gillian

Shane with his wife Gillian

Shane recalled how his father was left heartbroken when he lost "the love of his life" after 55 years of marriage. Mae died from lung cancer. Peter had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer while she was ill.

During the first lockdown, Shane was dealing with the ­turmoil and heartache.

"It was kind of a difficult time, with Mum and Dad and everything that had happened," he says. It was then, with the encouragement of his wife, Gillian, that he fulfilled a ­long-held ambition to learn to play the guitar, which he now uses to write songs.

"I've been singing my whole life, but I always wanted to play guitar," Shane tells me. "When I'm on stage I always look at the guitarist with pure envy because I'd love to do that. So now I can play some rhythm guitar, and I can play some new songs on the album.

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Kian Egan, Mark Feehily and Shane Filan watch Nicky Byrne’s ball trick at the Aviva

Kian Egan, Mark Feehily and Shane Filan watch Nicky Byrne’s ball trick at the Aviva

Kian Egan, Mark Feehily and Shane Filan watch Nicky Byrne’s ball trick at the Aviva

"It took me away from everything, it kept me focused on music, focused on positivity, and a lot of the songs you'll hear on the album are very positive. They're all upbeat, it's all about hope. It's all about looking forward to the future and having fun.

"But there are some songs that are a bit more deeper, including one called Always With Me, which is about Mum and Dad and their love story.

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"It's a beautiful song. It's a song I wrote with Steve Garrigan of Kodaline. It came from when I was on the Late Late Show. Steve was watching that show and he contacted me afterwards through Nicky, who he knew.

"Steve said, 'Look, one of the things you said in that interview is that your dad said, 'They say that time heals a broken heart and I don't know if that is true.' It was just one of those things that my dad said to me. Steve said, 'There might be a song in that.'

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Westlife will be back live on stage in full performance gear

Westlife will be back live on stage in full performance gear

Westlife will be back live on stage in full performance gear

"We started writing and doing Zooms over and back, WhatsApps and text messages. We spent four or five months writing it because I really wanted it to be right, lyrically. It had to be amazing. It's a very acoustic, beautiful ballad. It's a great song. It really is a beautiful song and it's a nice tribute to my mum and dad.

"The story of the song is about how much my dad loved my mum, and how he must have felt without my mum after she had gone. He was pretty heartbroken, but it's a love story and the song turned out great," he says.

Shane also revealed a conversation he had last Friday morning at the Aviva Stadium with Westlife manager Louis Walsh about his mother, Mae, who was also from Walsh's hometown of Kiltimagh, Co Mayo.

It was Mae who first contacted Louis by phone 23 years ago to tell him about the Sligo band her son, Shane, was in. They were called IOU, later to be renamed Westlife and to become one of the most successful boybands of all time.

Shane says: "Louis said that to me at the Aviva - he mimmicks Louis' voice - 'If your mother hadn't f**king called me, can you imagine, we wouldn't be f***king here today!'

"Louis is very sentimental and he went back to that phone call 23 years ago.

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The Westlife lads with manager Louis Walsh who remembers Shane’s mother’s call

The Westlife lads with manager Louis Walsh who remembers Shane’s mother’s call

The Westlife lads with manager Louis Walsh who remembers Shane’s mother’s call

It's amazing how one phone call has changed a lot of people's lives, including all the millions of fans that have got the enjoyment out of it," he says.

"It's crazy. Mum and Dad would be very proud today, definitely."

Shane is excited for the future that includes Westlife's upcoming world tour with a sold-out concert at Wembley Stadium next year.

"Aviva is very special because it's Irish, but not many bands in the world get to play Wembley Stadium and that's going to be a massive night for our career," he adds.

• TICKETS for Westlife at Aviva Stadium on Friday, July 8, go on sale next Friday morning.

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