Teacher Pat Byrne chalks up 'Voice' victory, but Bressie a winner too
PART-TIME music teacher Pat Byrne has come out on top in 'The Voice of Ireland'.
The 22-year-old from Borris, Co Carlow, said that competing in the TV singing contest had been "the best experience of my life".
He beat stiff competition at blind auditions, the live round, and even the popularity of his mentor Bressie to clinch victory.
An early indication of his popularity had come last Monday when his version of 'What a Wonderful World' topped the iTunes chart.
But it was a take on Bruce Springsteen's 'The River' which helped him top the polls last night.
"I head-butted Bressie when they announced me as the winner, then I blanked out," he said. "It was so tense and Bressie ripped my jacket when he jumped up in the air."
Bressie joked: "He was lucky I didn't put his disc out because I had so much energy pent up waiting for the announcement.
"It was incredible because I've experienced lots of things, like nerves playing sport and nerves being on stage myself, but I never experienced that sort of nervous energy that built up and up. It just exploded when they said Pat's name," he said.
Mr Byrne revealed that his plan now is to record his debut album, which would be "more Paddy Casey than manufactured pop".
"I can't believe I'm going to make an album and that I'm a signed artist," he added.
However, series producer Lynda McQuaid said there would be no rush to bring the record out.
"I would hate for him to release an album in three weeks' time. There will be no 'let's make a quick buck' and then you never hear from the winner again. We're hoping Pat will be allowed to develop," she said.
But for many, the real star of 'The Voice of Ireland' has been Mr Byrne's mentor -- Niall Breslin, a former Leinster rugby player.
"I will take any fan I can get but it's more important how you get known and I'm happy that I was totally myself in front of the cameras. I didn't lie to anybody and I was straight and maybe the viewers liked that," Bressie said.
He will be testing his newfound popularity when he headlines at the Festival of the Fires in Co Westmeath next Saturday night.
Production company Screentime ShinAwil had won praise for competing favourably against a BBC version of the same format with 10 times the budget.
CEO Larry Bass said they were in negotiations to return with a second series on RTE next year.
"We averaged 600,000 viewers, which meant on a Sunday we were doing incredibly well," said Ms McQuaid.
The reality show, which was hosted by Kathryn Thomas, ran for 17 weeks on RTE.