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26 October 2011: WHILE THE world at large might have been amazed that a relatively small town in the North West of Ireland could produce one of the biggest success stories in recent pop music history, the woman who first unearthed the raw talent that was to become the Westlife phenomenon was not the slightest bit surprised at their instant and enduring popularity.

 

Local choreographer and producer, Mary Mcdonagh, first encountered Kian Egan as a six year old student at her weekly dance classes, and came to know Shane Filan and Mark Feehily in their early teens as they starred in shows such as Olvier and Godspell for Sligo Fun Company.

 

Realising that she had rare talent on her hands, she teamed the three Summerhill College students with three other talented teenagers, Michael Garrett, Derek Lacey and Graham Keighron, and IOU was born.

 

"It was clear from very early on that these lads were exceptionally talented. In my experience of working with youngsters over many years, I've come across a lot of very talented people. But it's not just about talent. There's a whole package involved, and as well as talent there has to be desire, hunger and a strong work ethic. These lads had the lot. I wasn't the slightest bit surprised that they became so successful," she told The Sligo Champion.

 

"People still talk about that performance. We brought them together and gave them that opportunity, and I'm proud to have been part of that, but you have to credit the boys themselves as well. They put in the long hours work - it's not always as glamorous as it seems -- and they handled it all very well," she adds.

 

"Both from a personal and business point of view I think it's a wise decision. Professionally, it's always better to go out on top and from their personal points of view, they're at an age where the quality of life is important, particularly with young families.

 

"I have no doubt they will continue to be successful whatever they decide to do, but they probably felt they had taken Westlife as far as they could and for that reason they have made the perfect choice," she added.

 

Source: Sligo Champion

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IF NOT FOR MARY, THERE MIGHT NOT

HAVE BEEN WESTLIFE