Louis Walsh what have you done? 

today13 October 2021

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If one man could be held accountable for the regulation of teenage hormones in Ireland in the 90’s, it’d be Louis Walsh.  Only he knew that a few dance sessions in Diggs Lane and the ancient art of bleaching virgin hair could transform five Northsiders into an emotional harpoon aimed at Irish cailinis.

A teen in love had great power in the Irish household when the boyz were due on TV.  Dibs would be called on the best seat in front of the set.  There was a lot of hanging up on best friends because the phone was in the hall – and it was mounted to the wall.  Dads’ were warned to stop the usual dilly-dallying after the 9pm news and to get out.  Boyzone’s musical prowess made your world stall in glorious slow motion.  Tears and screams; a new primal language. Parents hurried from the room.

Then in 1998 Westlife entered stage right. Louis Walsh watching again gleefully as we labored under the delicious dilemma of feeling torn between two boybands!  ‘Love Me For A Reason’ went head to head with ‘Queen Of My Heart’ on Smash Hits as we feverishly chewed on Wham bars to calm our nerves. 

And is there any image of love more powerful than a 90’s mother hand-washing your Westlife t-shirt, inside out, in cold water? Plunging it beneath the suds while you’d pray for Bryan McFaddan’s face to emerge intact.

There were also certain practicalities that came with fandom life in the noughties. The relentless entering of milk carton competitions to win a trip to Wembley Arena. Rumor had it that confetti fell from the rafters when Westlife hit the high doh and traveling abroad for your band was, let’s face it, akin with being blood brothers for life.

Let’s pay our respects to those who clutched autographed programs to their chest before the ink had fully dried. Those who slept outside Ticketmaster for front row seats. Sisters and brothers who know what it took to hold Discmans steady on City Imp buses. Let’s not forget the economics of replacing AA batteries before the pound shop arrived. Or the frantic whip arounds for biros when one of the Corrs walked by with a Juicy Couture bag (not Jim). And those blasted disposable cameras which kept your red eyed, overexposed photos a secret until they were developed – a week later. Blessed twas the inconvenience.

Written by: Caroline Downey

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