Westlife now… bankruptcy, life-shattering tragedies and Brian McFadden ‘snub’

Formed in 1998 on the back of the success of boybands like Take That and Boyzone, Westlife went on to become one of the top-selling bands of all time.

Before their split in 2012, the group released 13 albums, embarked on 12 world tours, earned 28 platinum discs and sold more than 55million records across the globe.

And their success continued when they reunited and released their number one album Spectrum in 2018.

But what have members Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Brian McFadden, Nicky Byrne and Kian Egan been up to in the years between?

From snubs and solo careers to bankruptcy, finding true love and starting a much-longed for family, here’s what came next…

Shane Filan
Lead singer Shane, 41, studied business and accounting before joining Westlife, but was left devastated when his property empire went bust in 2012, leaving him with debts of £18million.

The Irish star and his brother Finbarr ran property development company Shafin Developments, and had taken out loans to build a 90-house estate in Dromahair, Co Leitrim, as well as a nursing home and a supermarket.

But when the recession hit, their plans had to be shelved and the company collapsed.

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In a statement issued at the time, Shane said: “I have worked long and hard to try to reduce my debts, and I am devastated that it came to this conclusion.”

Meanwhile Shane released three albums as a solo artist – You and Me in 2013, Right Here in 2015 and Love Always in 2017.

He married childhood sweetheart, Gillian Walsh, in 2003, who happens to be the cousin of bandmate Kian Egan.

Together they have three children – Nicole, 15, Patrick, 12 and 11-year-old Shane.

But his idyllic home life was shattered in the space of 10 months last year when his ‘hero’ dad Peter died shortly after his beloved mum Mae.

“I lost the most important man in my entire life, my dad Peter,” Shane told fans, revealing his father died ‘peacefully in his sleep’ in hospital after a year of ill-health.

“He was my best friend, my guidance through life and an absolutely amazing father. He was my hero,” Shane continued.

His mum Mae died the December before, prompting an outpouring of grief from the showbiz industry, especially as she had been the one who convinced Westlife creator Louis Walsh to give her son a chance all those years ago.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, former X Factor judge Louis said: “She rang me and said how good her son and the group were, and for some reason I believed her.

“Every mother says their son is brilliant. I believed Mae Filan.

“And I met them and there was something about them. They were rough around the edges.”

Mark Feehily

Mark, now 40, got everything he’d ever dreamed of in 2019 when he and fiancé Cailean O’Neill welcomed their baby daughter Layla.

“We’re the happiest Dads in the world!” gushed the pair, who have been together for seven years and got engaged in the Maldives.

Mark came out as gay back in 2005 but sought therapy after bandmate Kian Egan noticed he was struggling.

He explained: “I went to a counsellor at one point but I couldn’t get to the bottom of it and I couldn’t move forward.

“And she said to me, it was in London, ‘You are homophobic’, and I was so shocked.

“I was so worried about what everyone else thought, none of them ended up giving a crap, it was all within me. I was the one who had the problem.

“It was a big lightbulb moment and it changed my life. It was the best thing I ever done. Like Kian from the band was one of the main people who helped me in that situation. He could just see that I wasn’t happy.”

Meanwhile, Mark was tipped to become one half of Strictly Come Dancing’s first same-sex couple last year, with rumours swirling that he would be paired with dance professional Johannes Radebe. However, the gig ultimately went to Katya Jones and boxer Nicola Adams.

Mark has also released solo music under the name Markus Feehily, and premiered his single, Love Is a Drug, back in February 2015.

Nicky Byrne

Nicky, 42, started out as a professional footballer with Leeds United, joining the team as a goalkeeper in 1995.

He was a member of the squad when they won the FA Youth Cup in 1997, and played for the team for two years before his contract expired.

A year later, he auditioned for Westlife and a very different career path suddenly opened up.

In 2003 he married childhood sweetheart Georgina Aherne, whose father is former Irish Taoiseach Bertie Aherne and sister is PS I Love You author Cecelia Aherne.

They have 13 year old twins Rocco and Jay and a seven-year-old daughter called Gia. But like Shane, Nicky’s world was blown apart by the premature death of a parent.

It was in 2009 that Nicky received an odd phone call from his mum as he was about to board a flight to the UK, asking if he’d seen his dad Nicholas because she couldn’t get hold of him.

Concerned, Nicky also tried repeatedly and asked his dad’s colleague Neil to go to his workplace to check, where Nicholas was found unconscious on the floor.

Nicky told Brian Dowling on his Death Becomes Him podcast: “[Neil] said ‘I’m just opening the door to his office now’ and then the phone went dead.”

By then Nicky’s plane was taxiing down the runway, but the kind pilot agreed to stop to let the distraught star off.

He immediately phoned the hospital, and their response told him everything he needed to know.

“They said, ‘You need to come into the hospital, you don’t need to rush but you need to come into the hospital,’ so I knew he was gone,” Nicky recalled.

Nicholas was later found to have died of a sudden heart attack.

In between his years with Westlife, Nicky competed on Strictly in 2012 and has carved out a successful TV and radio career, hosting shows such as the Irish version of Dancing With the Stars.

Kian Egan

Kian won the 2013 series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, and deeply moved viewers with his uncontrollable tears as he was reunited with his Hollyoaks actress wife Jodi Albert for the first time.

He released his solo album Home in 2014, which reached number 9 in the UK charts, and lives in his native Sligo with Jodi and their sons Koa, 10, Zekey, five and three-year-old Cobi.

Tragically, the couple were forced to endure two devastating bereavements.

First they lost his father Kevin to cancer in 2010. He had been too ill to attend their Barbados wedding the year earlier.

Then Jodi’s mum Eileen was killed by the disease while her daughter was six months pregnant with Zekey in 2015.

Eileen had first been diagnosed in 2009 but was given the all clear before the cancer returned.

And the double loss broke their hearts.

Kian told the Irish Independent: “Eileen was a very strong woman and she had eight years of fighting really hard. It’s never easy to see someone fight for her life for a long time, then lose the battle.”

And the experience has left its scars. “I lost my dad that was a big low for us 10 years ago, same as Nicky, and my wife lost her mum,” he said.

“But you know they are all things that happen in life no matter what you do so I suppose we’re just living now in the real world and we’re coming to that age where people are getting sick and starting to pass on us and the circle of life is just happening to us.

“I’m not that 20 year old little bubbly fella who is unscathed and unscarred anymore.”

Brian McFadden

Brian, 40, quit Westlife in 2004, just months before his marriage to Kerry Katona ended.

Announcing his departure, he explained he wanted out to spend more time with Atomic Kitten star Kerry and their two daughters Molly and Lily.

But after parting ways with Kerry, he launched a solo career, started dating Australian singer Delta Goodrem and moved Down Under.

And he later admitted his decision to walk away from Westlife came after the band was told to cover Barry Manilow’s hit Mandy.

He told the Irish Independent: “That was definitely a turning point. I’ve always been very proud of Westlife, and I still think that we never got the respect we deserved, but I was f**king ashamed of that song. From the second we went into the studio to record it, I lost all interest.”

He insisted that while there had been ‘arguments’, the parting had been on good terms and they all remained friends.

Over the years, Brian has made several murmurings about wanting back in, but in 2006, Nicky made it clear that door was firmly closed.

He said: “The honest answer would be that we wouldn’t have him back in the group anyway.

“We all get on great with Brian but we couldn’t go back to having five in the group because it was such an upheaval when he left.

“We had to re-build and start from scratch and we’re a different group now. We’ve moved on and Brian knows that as much as we do.

“If you are asking me if we would let him re-join the group then the answer is no.”

And in 2018, Brian claimed they’d been offered a mega-bucks deal to reunite as a five-piece, but said the other four had snubbed him.

“I was offered a big multi-million pound deal. It was the other boys in Westlife who said ‘no’. They didn’t want me back,” he told the Irish Sun.

“How does that make me feel? It makes me pretty upset because I didn’t realise they still had those feelings towards me.”

Brian’s personal life has been equally as tumultuous. After splitting with Delta, he married Vogue Williams in a lavish Tuscan ceremony on 2 September 2012.

“We instantly clicked and talked non-stop for eight hours the night we met and I proposed eight months later,” Brian told The Belfast Telegraph.

“Within three weeks she moved to Australia to be with me. Although it was a whirlwind romance, it was just so right from the beginning, so we knew it would work.”

He added: “Meeting her was a life changer for me – she’s my soulmate. Getting married hasn’t changed anything – it was perfect anyway – but it has made us both feel quite grown-up. We like nothing better than just staying in and spending time together as a couple when we’re not working.”

But after three years it was all over, with Vogue – who is now married to Made In Chelsea’s Spencer Matthews – harshly claiming the thought of their union “makes me a little bit sick in my mouth.”

Brian is now engaged to Danielle Parkinson, a sports teacher from Rochdale, and looking forward to the hard fought-for arrival of their first child together.

They suffered two heartbreaking miscarriages before Zara and Mike Tindall put them in touch with a nutritionist who helped them conceive through IVF.

Danielle said: “It does [feel like a miracle] but I feel awful saying that, as I’ve had so many messages on Instagram.

“The IVF community is so lovely and I’ve heard real traumatic stories from people who have been trying for 10 years, people who have had eight-plus miscarriages, so I feel we got lucky on our third attempt.”