Cillian O’Connor, a 14-year-old magician from Co Meath, finished third in this year’s Britain’s Got Talent competition after wowing the judges and audience with an impressive magic routine.
The final came after a week of five live semi-finals, with five acts put through after receiving the most audience votes and another five voted through by the judges.
During his routine in the final of the competition, O’Connor made co-host Anthony McPartlin disappear.
After the performance, the judges gave O’Connor a standing ovation with co-host Declan Donnelly remarking: “I need to know how to do that.”
Judge Simon Cowell said “I just think you’ve obviously got magical powers and I believe in that”, while fellow judge Bruno Tonioli described the Meath teenager as “the embodiment of magic”.
On Monday, the teenager said he was very proud of himself. “It was my dream to perform at Britain’s Got Talent but I never imagined that I’d even make it to the final, never mind come third.
“The show was the magic for me. The magic used to do the talking for me but now I can talk to people on my own in general. It helped me overcome my dyspraxia and my autism,” he said.
“I would just like to say to other kids with autism that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything,” he added.
He isn’t sure though what comes next. “We know there will be things but we just don’t know what so in the meantime I’ll relax and catch up with my other hobbies of WWE Wrestling, chess, action figures and photography until the opportunities come up.
“There were a lot of people rooting for me on my journey, both in Ireland and Britain and I’m incredibly grateful to them.”
Cillian’s parents Richard and Elaine and younger sister Casey said they were all still in shock.
“To see the change in Cillian as he progressed was overwhelming. He used to speak in one word sentences of yes and no but through the performances and all the interviews, he can interact and engage more naturally now with people. He is holding his head a little bit higher,” said Elaine
“It’s amazing how well he has handled the whole thing and the support of the public has been unbelievable. They lifted his spirits so much through all this
“He has only ever performed on stage four times in his life and all were at Britain’s Got Talent so we have signed him up for the Drogheda Youth Theatre over the summer to see how he gets on.”
O’Connor finished behind another teenage star, 13-year-old dancer Lilliana Clifton, who claimed second place with an emotional and dramatic dance routine to Eurovision winner Loreen’s Tattoo.
However, it was Norwegian comedian Viggo Venn, who “captured the heart of the [British] nation” with his high-vis inspired routines, who was crowned the winner.
Venn, who said at his first audition that he wanted to become a British comedian, scooped the £250,000 (€289,600) prize, as well as a spot on the bill at the Royal Variety Performance, which is attended by members of Britain’s royal family.
During the final of the show on Sunday night, a surprise came when former contestant Susan Boyle appeared for a performance of her 2009 audition song I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables, with the cast of the West End production.
The 62-year-old also joined the cast in performing a rendition of Do You Hear The People Sing?
After the performance, Boyle said: “It feels great [to be here]. It’s extra special for me. Last April I suffered a minor stroke and I fought to be back on stage and I have done it.”
Cowell said: “Susan, we owe you so much. I knew you weren’t well but if anyone was going to come back, you were going to come back, it wouldn’t be the same without you.” – Additional reporting from PA