TVHits - IT'S DUBLIN vs SLIGO
Bryan and Shane go head to head in a battle of the best hometown!

So you thought Westlife couldn't get any bigger, huh? Wrong! June saw 80,000 people turn up to witness the boys play their biggest ever gig in Bryan and Nicky's hometown, and this month the boys are playing two massive shows in Sligo. But with half the band coming from one town and the rest from the other, tvhits! decided to make sure the rivalry isn't causing the boys too much bother...

"Dublin's da best!" says Bryan. "Playing at Landsdowne Road in Dublin was the best thing Westlife have ever done. It was our first Irish stadium gig and because it's in my hometown, I was more excited than I've ever been. It's about twice the size of Sligo's park and is pretty legendary in Dublin.

"I was dead nervous before we went on. You can tell when I've got butterflies cos I get really hyper and start running round cleaning stuff! Once we were out there the buzz was incredible. Sometimes you can be a bit blase about what you do but when I looked out in the crowd I thought, 'Oh my god! All these people are here just to see us - it's amazing!'

"I remember going to Landsdowne Road before Westlife to see Celine Dion. I was on my way home from work at a construction site. Loads of people got off the train at the stadium station. I decided I'd sneak in by telling security someone had nicked my ticket. There I am in my cement-covered jeans watching Celine Dion in the huge Gaelic football stadium! It was mad!

"All my family were really excited about our concert, everyone came to see us. My mam and dad's phones didn't stop ringing with people asking for tickets! Everyone from my grandmother to my baby Lilly came to see us!

Molly (Lilly's big sis) loves watching us too, she stands there waving her hands in the air when we're singing the ballads!"

"I think the whole family are pretty happy when we play Dublin cos it means they don't have to travel to see us. My Uncle Gerard came out to South Africa to see us on tour once!"

"Of course, when we play Dublin I get to sleep in my own bed! I love that feeling, especially after travelling for ages. At Dublin airport there's a big 'Welcome to Ireland from Westlife' board - so I kind of welcome myself home!

"Dublin's great for partying too. The last one was my house warming! I have a pub in my house and we just played snooker in there and had the jukebox really loud!"

"Nah, Sligo's where it's at," says Shane. "The concerts in Sligo are going to be the best, it's the first time Westlife ever played in the hometown of meself, Mark and Kian - although every time I drive home along the new motorway I think, 'I'd love to do it!' (Thinks.) Mind you, the last time we sang here was on the articulated truck when we were still a six-piece called IOU! I never dreamed we'd come back to play for 18,000 people, but there you go!"

"We tried to put on a gig in Sligo so many times but it kept going wrong, so it's a great feeling to finally be able to do it. The buzz is going to be huge that weekend, fans are going to come from all over Europe so it'll be brilliant for the town. The people there are amazing, they treat us all really normally and that's why Kian, Mark and I still live there. A lot of people are really proud of us and proud for Sligo too because we're the first sort of band out of there to reach this stage."

"Everyone I know is going to be at the show. I've got seven brothers and they're all married or engaged, so they'll be there with their kids - and then my mum and dad will be there. Since they retired from the Carlton Cafe they've got more time - enouge to go to 20 concerts already, this tour! They love the show."

"Then there's my two best mates from home, Keith and Brian, who I've been friends with all my life. There's going to be at least 30 people, even my sister's baby Kate is coming and she's only nine months old!"

"I'm really looking forward to the whole show but I think Flying Without Wings is going to be the best song. The crowd always love it cos it's kind of our trademark song. It's a really class song so it'll be hard to beat. I think the one that will mean most to me is If I Let You Go because that's Gillian's favourite song. Sometimes she'll be down at the mixing desk and I look down at her when I'm singing it. Every second of that song she's in my head and I know she's there to see me and no one else."

"The Dublin gigs were amazing but Sligo's going to be even better, sorry Bryan! Y'know, we always slag each other but we're only messing, they slag my accent or I slag their Dublin accent (tries a Dublin drawl). They try and mimic me talking about me building my new house, which, by the way, I'll be moving into before Christmas and I can't wait! We're proud of the boys though, they're from the capital of Ireland and they're very proud of Sligo cos that's where we started out. (Pauses.) I still thing Sligo will be the best concert though!"

<--Back



OK! Magazine - The secrets of the star studded nuptials
Credit: WestlifesGirlies TheGorgeousGeorginaByrne

As the Westlife star marries his childhood sweetheart, OK! Reveals the secrets of the star studded nuptials

The moment Nicky Byrne first laid eyes on Georgina Ahern in a Dublin classroom when they were 12 years old, he knew instantly that he would marry her.

This Saturday (August 9th) the couple - who just happen to be 2 of Ireland's most talented and celebrated young stars - will enjoy the big Irish wedding they have waited eight years for.

Surrounded by 400 friends, family and celebrities, the wedding of Nicky, a member of mega successful Irish band Westlife, and Georgina, daughter of the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, will be one of the most glamorous social events of the year.

The couple have chosen a fairytale castle in France, Chateau D'Esclimont, as the venue for their nuptials. The stunning French Palace surrounded by a moat and set in 150 acres of parkland, is less than an hour from Paris.

They chose the stunning French Castle after Georgina spent hours drawing a shortlist of dream locations online.

"We spent six hours looking on the Internet." Said Wedding consultant Joanne Byrne. "Then Georgina and her mother went out to look at a shortlist of possibilities. She fell for Chateau D'Esclimont immediately, but she waited for Nicky to come and see it. He also agreed it was perfect for them."

The couple will erect a giant marquee in the grounds as the banquet room can only fit 200 guests.

"They have 400 guests confirmed to attend the wedding." Said Joanne. "It's a huge number that really couldn't be accommodated in any one room in the Chateau."

Nicky's Westlife band mates and the couple's immediate family and friends will stay at the castle for the wedding. Up to 100 guests can be accommodated in the castle, in rooms priced from ?00 - up to ?50 per night. Nicky and Georgina's other guests will stay in the near by town of Charters.

The chateau, which is filled with elegant brocade, gilt and antiques, also boasts a Michelin - starred chef - Oliver Dupart, to create a gourmet meal for the couple's guests.

The couple who got engaged on Christmas day last year, originally planned to have their big day in Ireland and looked at properties including Luttrellstown Castle, Powerscourt and Kilshane house in Tipperary. It was rumoured that Castle Leslie - where Sir Paul McCartney married Heather Mills - was also a possibility.

But the big stumbling block was time. It proved impossible to get even the church they wanted in Ireland within a year, and having been together for eight years already, Nicky and Georgina decided they didn't want an extended engagement and looked else where.

France was their ultimate choice. A country they fell in love with and have visited often ever since accompanying Georgina's father to the World Cup in 1998 just after he became Prime Minister.

A friend said: "France is also an ideal location for them because its possibly the only country in Europe in which Westlife don't have a massive profile, so they're more likely to have the privacy they want there."

The newly weds have to live in France for 40 days after the wedding in order to be married under French Law, so they have been searching for the perfect honeymoon home in the South of France.

The French twist to the day will not stop the event turning in to a big Irish bash, which is what the couple, both 24, want most of all. Ronan Keating formally of Boyzone, is the main act at the reception and Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud will sing in the church. Bertie Ahern's cabaret band will also play, as well as Irish singers and harpists. Irish stout will be on the tap along with Jameson whisky cocktails.

Georgina will have 5 bridesmaids, including her sister Cecilia as her maid of honour, Nicky's sister Gillian and three good friends. Nicky has asked his brother Adam, 13, to be his best man.

The church and wedding reception will be decked out in Georgina's favourite white lilies and roses and the aisle will be smothered in the blooms, with bouquets at the end of every row of seating. Each of the 50 tables at the reception will have a lavish bouquet as its centrepiece, costing the couple a total of ?1,000.

It's believed that the couple will charter a jet to transport the guests to France on the eve of the wedding and take them back home again, as well as hiring buses and cars to ferry people back and forth from the hotels and the castle. White stretch limousines have been organised to transport the bride, groom, bridesmaids and flower girls.

Guests will be treated to a six-course meal with Cristal Champaigne flowing and a free bar throughout the night. Then on the stroke of midnight, Nicky and Georginaís fairytale wedding will go off with a bang when thousands of pounds worth of fireworks will light up the sky in spectacular style. The display will last 30 minutes and Nicky and Georgina have even helped choose the colour scheme for the incredible show.

It'll surely be one of the proudest moments for Georgina's father, Bertie, the former Lord Mayor of Dublin, who has been dubbed the Mr Nice Guy of Irish politics. He's the youngest Prime Minister in Ireland's history and also the first to separate from his wife and openly have a romance with another woman, though he maintains a friendly relationship with Georgina's mother.

The biggest question on everyone's lips will be what will Georgina's wedding dress be like, and OK! have the answer. A number of spectacular ensembles have been created by top Irish designer Synan O'ahony, who has been asked to make 2 dresses for the bride, one for the ceremony and one for the evening. It's believed that Georgina has spent ?7,000 on the perfect dress and evening gown, made by Limerick based Synan, who counts Sophie Dahl among his clientele. Synan said his latest assignment for Georgina was the biggest challenge of his career.

The men's suits for the wedding will be produced by Crewe's Cheshire clothing company, a luxury tailoring firm. The company saw it's profile raised when it made Bespoke suits for the world premieres of the film Matrix Reloaded.

The wedding will be a fitting climax to what has been one of showbusiness's most successful courtships. Georgina and Nicky met during their first year of secondary school and were immediately smitten, even before they talked to each other. "I went home at the end of the day and told my mam: I've found the girl I'm going to marry." He remembers. "My mam just laughed at me. How could I possibly know who I was going to marry at that age? But I just knew."
Nicky added: "She's very pretty and has beautiful eyes and there was something special about her from day one. I love a refined lady. A prim and proper person and that's Georgina in a nutshell."
Georgina said: "I remember our first day at school. In the afternoon when I went back home, some of my friends asked me what the guys were like. I thought of Nicky and said: "There're only one good looking guy there, but I don't think he even noticed me."
She continued: "All the girls fancied him like mad, me included. When I first saw him in his smart new school uniform, his school bag on his shoulder, he was kind of posing against the school wall."
It took another 3 years before either of them could even pluck up the courage to talk to each other because both were so shy, and even that wasn't straight forward. Eventually Nicky asked a friend to see if Georgina would like to go out with him and the answer came back as a firm No!

A year later however, Georgina said yes and the first night they went out was to a party the day before Nicky's 16th birthday. They had their first kiss that night and a few months later began seeing each other properly, beginning what has been a rock solid relationship.

It was Georgina who was there to spur Nicky on, when at 16 he joined Leeds Unitedís Youth team, and 2 years later consoled him when the budding goal keeper was thrown on to the scrap heap because he was deemed to short at 5ft 10in.

It was Georgina, a business graduate, who encouraged blond, Dubliner Nicky to audition for Westlife, saying: "Go for the audition with all your heart. You know you can do it."

That was back in 1998 when five teenagers, Nicky, Shane Filan, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily and Bryan Mcfadden were picked from auditions to support Boyzone. They were just a shy group of wannabes from the west of Ireland whose dream of stardom were matched only by a remarkable singing talent.

They've gone on to have phenomenal success, notching up 11 number 1 singles and selling 30 million records world wide in just 4 and a half years. They are in the record books for holding the most consecutive number one singles and continue to reign supreme despite constant rumours of a split.

The couple keep their relationship strong with Georgina travelling almost everywhere with Nicky when Westlife go on tour. Then 3 years ago they bought a house just outside Dublin, cementing their relationship further, so it was only a matter of time before the marriage proposal came.

Just before Christmas they splashed out on a ?.9 million three storey, five bedroom Georgian house in Malahide, where Georgina grew up. On Christmas day Nicky got down on bended knee and asked Georgina to marry him, after asking for her perents permission on Christmas Eve. Nicky presented Georgina with a beautiful engagement ring he bought 4 months earlier, a ring with a perfect solitaire pear shaped diamond that Georgina had already spotted in a jewellery shop window in Dublin sometime before.

With so many divorces and bitter recriminations hitting showbiz marriages today, the joining of Nicky and Georgina and their survival of their love against the odds has been celebrated by many. We wish them all the luck in the world.

<--Back