Ireland’s Got Talent gives Jen a fresh start after time of tragedy

Ireland’s Got Talent gives Jen a fresh start after time of tragedy
Cork's Caroline Bailey, 30, one half of the group Sparkle, alongside Jennifer Bowler, 32, of Kerry

AN Ireland’s Got Talent singer, who tragically lost her entire family, has managed to audition for the hit TV show despite still reeling from grief.

Musician Jen Bowler, who has lived in Carrigaline in recent years, revealed she auditioned for the show just a week after losing her mother Peggy to cancer.

Her father had passed away less than two years before from a cardiac arrest.

However, it was the death of her 20-year-old brother Rob to suicide seven and a half years ago that affected her most.

“Rob broke me the most,” Jen said.

Her successful audition on Ireland’s Got Talent as one half of the band Sparkle has shone a light at the end of a very long tunnel for Jen, who is returning to live in Cork in the coming weeks.

“We have been trying for so long so are absolutely thrilled with how things are going,” she said of her and fellow bandmate Caroline who hails from Glanmire.

Music has served as an escape for Jen during a dark time in her life.

“It might sound dramatic but I’m not sure what I would have done without music. I was always the only musician in my family.

“My grandmother bought me my first guitar. Ever since then I’ve been hooked.”

Music elicits memories of happy times spent with her family.

“I remember they all came to see me perform at Siamsa Tíre in Kerry. Ironically, I was performing Knockin on Heaven’s Door. My mum was bawlin. I was only in transition year at the time and they were all so happy to see me on stage.”

Jen is keen to use her music to reach out to others grieving for a loved one.

The band is currently collaborating with former Eurovision entrant Ryan O’Shaughnessy on a single they penned titled ‘Shining on Me’.

The musician is also open to raising awareness of suicide prevention.

“My brother was very supportive and always had my back. We were best friends. He would do anything for anyone. People called him Smiley because he looked so happy all the time. He was like everyone’s counsellor. I will never know what set him off that day.”

Jen’s advice to those suffering from grief was simple.

“Never give up. Mum always told me to keep going and that’s what I’ve always done. No matter how bad things seem, there is always good to outweigh the bad.”

Sparkle’s success on Ireland’s Got Talent couldn’t have come at a better time for Jen.

“It’s like having a completely fresh start. All the years of persevering are finally paying off.”

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