And if this year’s series of ‘The Voice’ is anything to go by, it’s exciting times ahead for the town as not only one, but TWO native contestants have made it through to the battle stages of the singing competition, which will commence on Sunday 22nd evening at 6.30 pm on RTÉ One.
18 year old, Ciara Monaghan and 22 year old, Rónan O’ Healy both impressed this year’s panel of judges when they took to the stage recently to showcase their extraordinary talents.
Hillcrest native and GAA star, Rónan made it through his first blind audition with an unconventional yet catchy rendition of the Bruno Mars classic, ‘The Lazy Song’ that impressed former S Club 7 singer and new member of this year’s judging panel, Rachel Stevens.
In a recent interview by ‘Ballinasloe LIFE’, Rónan remarked,‘Music has always been a big part of my life. However it has only really been in the last 18 months that I have begun to take it seriously. Sport was always my main passion and music was always my hobby on the side’.
However, even though Rónan attended Athlone Community College primarily because they offered Competitive Soccer, music has recently taken centre stage and become a great passion of his.
The talented young man, began playing music at the age of 13, ‘hitting anything in the house that made a sound’ until he was rewarded with his first Sonor drum kit at the age of 15.
‘I always wanted to be a drummer and I had pots and pans made into bits by the time I was 15. I always liked guitar but the fact that I’m left handed made it difficult for me to learn’, added O’ Healy.
Former S Club 7 member, Rachel Stevens was impessed by Rónan’s quirky and innovative performance.
A keen learner, Rónan taught himself how to play the guitar and drums.
‘People never usually know what chords I’m playing and if I am honest, half the time I don’t know what I’m playing either! They sound good though, I think’, joked the local talent.
Rónan always kept playing to himself and admittedly he added, ‘Very few of the lads knew I had such a keen interest in it’.
When asked about his main music influences growing up, the Sound Engineering Student claims his main influence was Noel Gallagher.
‘His guitar playing wouldn’t be by the book either! His brother Liam is also another huge influence. I loved everything about Oasis; the lyrics, the sound and the image. They were the ones who really made me want to pick up a guitar and sing’, expressed the passionate music enthusiast.
Rónan has many talents and singing is only one of them. A sports fanatic, O’ Healy was part of a very successful soccer team in ACC where he won numerous competitions including an impressive Leinster A Title. Rónan also remarked that he is greatly looking forward to ‘getting back playing ball and helping St. Grellans get back up to Senior!’.
Rónan describes his experience on The Voice so far as a ‘nerve wrecking process’.
‘The thing people don’t realise is that the auditions start long before the ones you see on TV! The Blind Auditions are the 4th stage of the auditions! My first audition was way back in August where I had to submit a piece on-line. Thousands and thousands audition but only about 100 get through to the Blind auditions’, revealed Rónan.
O’ Healy added, ‘it is a process that involves a lot of waiting and a lot of trips to Dublin but so far it has been class!’.
Rónan acknowledges the ‘amazing talent in the show this year’ and says that a huge plus for being on the show is the attention it brings.
‘The good outweighs the bad by about 100:1′, joked the 22 year-old.
The talented son of Seán and Margaret O’ Healy is looking forward to writing new music and performing locally in 2015 as part of his new two-piece band, ‘On Rail’, with Neil Harney.
Speaking of this new innovation Rónan said, ‘we only started in early December but we were flat out all Christmas. We played mainly in Athlone in places such as Seán’s Bar, Naughton’s Bar, The Prince, Coosan Tavern, Dan’s Tavern and out in Luker’s Bar in Shannonbridge’.
According to Rónan, On Rail has ‘a great sound’.
‘I play the guitar as well as a foot drum and vocals while Neil Harney plays the box accordion’, describes O’ Healy.
Rónan has received huge attention locally since his début Television appearance on RTÉ one a few weeks back and fondly remarks,
‘I’m lucky to be from a town where there are such incredible musicians. I don’t think people realise the talent we have in this town’.
Rónan advises young musicians who would like to enter a talent show like ‘The Voice’ to go for it and ‘make the jump that many are scared to take. It is tough and it might not always work out but it is better to try something and fail than live with the regret of not trying. Take a chance!’.
MEANWHILE, Glentaun representative Ciara Monaghan has also made it through her blind audtition, earning herself a place on Westlife member Kian Egan’s team of singers.
Stay tuned to RTÉ One on Sunday evenings at 6.30 pm to follow Rónan and Ciara on their journey.
The Next Issue of ‘Ballinasloe LIFE Magazine’ which will feature an exclusive interview with Ciara Monaghan as she describes her experience on the hit TV show and her claim to fame!
Click on the videos below to watch their auditions.
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