Tears mixed with pride in Tyrone as Devlinators watch Janet bow out


Super fans and family in the Northern Ireland home town of ‘wee Janet Devlin’ were distraught as their girl was evicted from the ‘X Factor’ last night

FOR A moment it was as though someone cancelled Christmas in the little village of Gortin, Co Tyrone last night.

And for the crime of voting local teenager Janet Devlin off the X Factorit was Louis Walsh who was quickly cast as The Grinch.

About 200 “Devlinators” had packed into Gortin Community Centre to find out if fluffing the words on her first song the night before would dent her support with voters.

Despite a valiant performance of Chasing Carsby Snow Patrol in a sing-off, Walsh and fellow judge Tulisa chose Misha B, who has been in the bottom two for three weeks in a row, to go through to the semi-final.

“It’s not fair,” said Hannah Ryan (10), bursting into tears. All around her adults and children wore grim expressions under the disco lights. The excitement about a raffle for a signed photo of Janet was forgotten. The sound of chairs being stacked filled the hall.

The singer’s older brother Gavin, who held back tears during her performance, said “as a family we are so proud of her, it doesn’t end now for Janet, doors will open for her”.

At her home, just over a mile down the road, her proud father was clearly hurting.

“It wasn’t a sing-off it, was a stitch-up,” said Acquinas Devlin, a lecturer in construction, shortly after the programme ended.

He was proud of his daughter, he said, and was looking forward to having her home but his “biggest disappointment” was in Louis Walsh. He said he met the X Factorjudge at the VIP lounge of Heathrow airport a few weeks ago.

“We had a long conversation about Janet and his parting words were, ‘Us Irish have to stick together’. Where was the patriotism in what he did tonight? . . . I wish Louis all the best but he let down his fellow countrymen by a country mile tonight.”

To everyone except her fans and supporters in Gortin the result was inevitable. Devlin’s performance of Hanson’s Mmmbopwas dubbed a “real mess” by judge Gary Barlow, who in the past few weeks has repeatedly criticised the singer for being “boring” or “one dimensional”.

Whatever Barlow thought of Devlin and her big voice, which had a touch of the yodeller, Devlin has been a cause for great celebration here since her first audition in Liverpool, a mesmerising rendition of Elton John’s Your Song.

The area is famous for a stunning forest park and a seam of gold found in nearby hills. Last night two Canadian prospectors were in town but for locals Devlin has been a far more exciting find.

The three pubs and restaurant on Main Street all have posters of the pale-faced young girl with the striking long red hair. A large electronic sign outside a grocery shop intermittently flashed ads for soft drinks, biscuits and Janet.

Fans were out in force last night convinced that despite the nerves or food poisoning that caused her to falter the night before she would make it into the final four.

School-friends Emma McGinn (14), Lucy McCallion (14) and Caroline Kelly (13) had gathered every Sunday night in the local community centre to watch the results show.

They described her as “down to earth” and “inspirational”. “I think the fact that someone from here could go so far in such a big competition is amazing,” said Emma.

“I still think she’ll get through, she has the support of all Northern Ireland,” said Lucy as they got ready to take front row seats in the centre.

Devlin lives just a over a mile outside the village in what she memorably described in early interviews as “blatant countryside”.

According the teenager herself, her downfall on Saturday was caused by some dodgy noodles, one of the theories she threw out for what she said was the pre-show nausea that made her stop singing. Her father insisted she didn’t forget her words.

On Twitter where she has over 250,000 followers, and goes by the handle @janetjealousy, her biography shows a hint of the precocious nature of her talent: “Music’s the motions of my mind of which I don’t have to speak, for you can hear them without verbalization”.

She may be out, but with rumours that every other week she topped the X Factorvoting poll this is unlikely to be the last the music industry hears of Janet Devlin from Gortin, Co Tyrone.