29 April 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard


Wandering minstrel boys have rarely enjoyed such a homecoming.

Outside there was nowhere that the wind’s chill fingers wouldn’t find you with their unpleasantly invasive tickle.

Inside, however, there was a radiating heat like that of a turf-stacked hearth, and at its centre glowed a smiling Michael Lawson, newly crowned winner of The Voice of Ireland title, really relaxing, perhaps, for the first time since he had stepped triumphantly off that Helix stage on Sunday evening, now basking in the Aghabog adulation.

All the parish, it seemed, had somehow managed to inveigle itself into the compact interior of the Emmetts GFC clubhouse and still smuggle in sufficient oxygen for its collective lungs to lift the rafters of the place when the 19-year-old Newbliss man arrived in its midst.

Monday night’s welcome home fanfare capped an extraordinary 24 hours for Michael, who landed himself a recording contract with Universal Music Ireland after winning the public vote in the final of the RTE-broadcast contest, which was watched on the big screen in the Aghabog GFC clubhouse by crowds to rival those that assembled there the following evening to herald the victor.

Michael became the second Co Monaghan winner of The Voice of Ireland in recent times, following in the vocal chords of Magheracloone’s Brendan McCahey, who triumphed in 2014 and like the Newbliss singer, was coached on the show by Bressie (Niall Breslin), who himself transmuted success on the Gaelic football and rugby fields into recording studio gold with pop band The Blizzards.

The songs chosen by Michael for his winning performance were the achingly reflective 7 Years by Lukas Graham and the Five for Fighting hit Superman.

Kelesa Mulcahy, who had become the bookies’ favourite to claim the 2016 Voice crown, finished runner-up in the final, with Nigel Connell third and Laura O’Connor fourth.

The Newbliss man’s performance sent the final judges into rhapsodies.

“This performance showed why you deserve to be here,” Rachel Stevens told him.   “You have such a gorgeous tone to your voice.”

Praising Michael’s “flawless vocal”, Kian Egan said: “I feel it when you sing, it’s about emotion and feeling and that’s what makes you stand out from the crowd.” Kian added with prescience: “You have a real shot at winning tonight.”

Úna Healy told him, “You are such a pop star, getting better and better”, while mentor Bressie’s verdict was …


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