On Monday, we saw her cook up a storm in the Celebrity Masterchef kitchen. But former Eurovision winner Niamh Kavanagh is now up against something much scarier than a couple of reality TV judges.
The two-time Irish song contest veteran is facing a big health scare due to an enlarged thyroid, and is scheduled for an operation later this month. Worryingly, the procedure may result in the loss of her singing voice all together.
Speaking with The Irish Times, Niamh freely admits that she’s anxious.
It’s a pivotal moment for someone like me because singing is my career and part of who I am because I have sung my whole life.
People started noticing that something was off with the powerhouse vocalist during a guest appearance on last weekend’s The Ray D’Arcy Show, where a clear lump was visible on her neck. This concerned viewers, especially those in the medical profession.
Niamh Kavanagh on The Ray D’Arcy Show
The “It’s For You” star explained to the newspaper how she’s had the condition for almost half her life.
I have an enlarged thyroid or a ‘goitre’, and I’ve had it for a very long time. I first became aware of it in my 20s and it was small so you wouldn’t have really seen it. At this point it has become quite enlarged and we decided to delay the operation on it because it could effect my singing voice – so we waited for as long as it was safe to do so.
It’s clear that this might have a bigger impact than anyone could fathom. Not only is she in danger of losing her voice, but the thyroid is also obstructing the singer’s airways.
There’s a small possibility that I’ll end up with hoarse-voice syndrome. There is a 20 per cent chance that damage can be caused to the two nerves that run perpendicular to the neck, which help you change pitch. If they get damaged, you really struggle with your voice.
If you can’t change the pitch of your voice, then that means from a singer’s point of view that you can’t follow a tune. It would be the end of singing for me.
In addition to the risky operation, Niamh will be on medication for the rest of her life.
The operation won’t have any impact on her Celebrity Masterchef stint as the show was pre-recorded in 2016.
Disturbing news indeed, and hopefully Niamh will recover in full after this difficult operation. The wiwibloggs team wishes her the very best and we’re crossing our fingers for a speedy recovery.
Ireland at Eurovision
While Ireland is well known for their dream run of four wins in five years in the mid 1990s (including Niamh’s 1993 victory), their recent Eurovision entries haven’t been as successful.
In the past decade, Jedward have given Ireland its best results, placing eighth in 2011 and 19th in 2012. Ireland has otherwise placed last in the grand final twice and failed to qualify for the final five times.
Most recently, broadcaster RTÉ took a break from their usual Eurosong national final and internally selected former Westlife singer Nicky Byrne. His upbeat song “Sunlight” wasn’t a hit with viewers, and placed only 15th in its semi-final.
Last month Irish broadcaster RTE revealed that music mogul Louis Walsh had handpicked former Hometown member Brendan Murray to represent Ireland at Eurovision 2017.
His song has yet to be chosen, with Walsh publicly declaring his wish for Johnny Logan to write it. Logan won the contest as singer in 1980 with “What’s Another Year” and in 1987 with “Hold Me Now” — a song he wrote himself. In 1992 he penned Linda Martin’s winning number “Why Me”.