herald

Monday 21 August 2017

I was skint at height of fame - Filan

Westlife star Shane Filan has revealed how he was "destitute" at the height of his career and at one point was forced to scrabble in the bottom of the wardrobe for loose change.

The global superstars were rocketting through the charts, clocking up millions of album sales, and had an army of fans right around the world.

But Shane said he underwent a sobering realisation that he had been living a "double life" as he hit rock-bottom with his finances.

"In reality I was worse than destitute - heading for skid row," he said.

"I'd started a property company with my brother Finbarr when Ireland was booming. But we'd got in way over our heads just as the global economy was crashing.

"The banks were throwing money at people. Yes, I made bad decisions but they also made it very easy. I was a 25-year-old pop star, thinking: 'These are professionals. They know what they're doing, so it must be right.'"

The Sligo-native described the desperate moment when he had to gather together all of his "rainy day" savings simply to get through the week.

"We owed €29m and that day the banks had demanded all the money back. So there I was counting out the loose change that I jokingly called the 'rainy day' pot," he said.

"Well, it was raining very hard in Sligo that night, I can tell you. It came to €1,400 - enough to see us through the next few days. But after that...?"

farewell

Shane (35) paid tribute to his wife Gillian who he said helped him through the dark days of bankruptcy - just days after Westlife's farewell gig in June 2012.

"I just broke down and sobbed when I heard (that I was made bankrupt)," he said.

"My world was crumbling around me. My three small children - Nicole, Patrick and Shane Jr - were upstairs in bed thinking everything was grand because daddy was a pop star.

"It was the most horrendous time of my life. I was wallowing in despair and could have gone under if not for Gillian," he added.

"She saved my sanity and she saved us."

Shane said that he is only now coming around to a positive way of thinking.

"I'm afraid to dream now. Mentally, I have been beaten up," he said, but added he had much to be thankful for.

hnews@herald.ie

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