Thursday 25 December 2014

Happy 19th, Niall -- the biggest star from Mullingar (since Joe Dolan)

Presenter Katy Perry leans in to kiss One Direction's Niall Horan as the band accepts the award for best pop video for their song "What Makes You Beautiful" during the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, September 6, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT) (MTV-SHOW)

The birthday boy's fame has gone stratospheric as One Direction dominate the pop world, says Joe O'Shea

For most teenage boys, no matter how civic-minded they are, 19th birthday celebrations are unlikely to involve hosting a Charity Golf Classic for the homeless.

But Niall Horan is not your average teenager. And with great power (at 6.3 million, Niall has more than three times as many Twitter followers as UK Prime Minister David Cameron) comes great responsibility.

So today, the One Direction star will return to his home town of Mullingar to host two charity events, raising money for Irish Autism Action (IAA) and local homeless charity TEAM.

The mere presence of one-fifth of the world's biggest boyband should also swamp the Westmeath town in hysteria.

Within minutes of news getting out about the two events, the website hosting ticket sales crashed under the onslaught of One Direction fans.

The Mullingar Park Hotel and the local golf club will be under the kind of security normally reserved for state visits after Niall told his Twitter followers: "I am delighted and honoured to be in the fortunate position of being able to give back to my community".

"The plan for my birthday . . . is to raise as much money as possible for IAA and TEAM and at the same time ensuring that both events are successful and fun for everyone involved".

Niall also asked his fans to forego sending him birthday presents and tweeted a link which would allow them to either buy one of the 500 tickets for the event in his local hotel or make a donation.

The One Direction star certainly has plenty to celebrate. The group (along with Rihanna) stole the show at the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, winning three VMAs for their song 'What Makes You Beautiful'.

Their debut single, written by a three-man team of Swedish/ American hit-makers who have worked for everybody from Britney Spears to Celine Dion, has sold more than five million copies worldwide.

'What Makes You Beautiful' also helped the Simon Cowell-backed One Direction achieve what so many massive UK pop acts have failed to achieve before them -- break America.

One Direction are huge in the US, following in the boyband tradition that stretches back beyond the likes of Backstreet Boys and N'Sync to The Osmonds and The Monkees.

When they played live at the Rockefeller Plaza in New York for The Today Show in March, 15,000 fans caused gridlock in the Big Apple.

Sonny Takhar, the MD of Simon Cowell's record label Syco, said: "Social media has become the new radio, it's never broken an act globally like this before."

The importance of internet tools is not lost on Niall Horan, One Direction's only Irish member.

"Social media is the main thing that we're about," he said recently.

Irish Independent

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