Video: Co Down choir and Omagh hurler wow judges on Britain's Got Talent
AN Omagh hurler has brought unlikely fame to Co Tyrone by breaking a world record for balloon modelling while blindfolded on Britain's Got Talent.
Ryan Tracey (35) took just 61 seconds to create a balloon version of a snail, a flower, a dog, a caterpillar and a sword before an enthusiastic audience.
The latest auditions for the ITV show also saw a school choir from Co Down receive a standing ovation from the audience and judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, David Walliams and Alesha Dixon.
St Patrick’s Primary School of Drumgreenagh, near Rathfriland, performed the Keane hit Somewhere Only We Know.
"Loved it, loved it, loved it... I am thrilled to start off this off with a 'yes'," Cowell told the children.
The school's Twitter account was also inundated with praise over the weekend, including from X Factor winner Sam Bailey who said the performance "gave me chills".
Mr Tracey, who works for Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and hurls with Omagh St Enda's GAA, added to the drama of his performance by completing his challenge blindfolded, as the previous record holder had done.
An official from Guinness World Records accompanied him on stage to observe proceedings and confirm that he had broken the seven-year record.
Mr Tracey runs 'Duff Balloons', a balloon modelling company for children's parties and events, which he said had helped increase his speed for the challenge.
He told The Irish News that the day of the audition, filmed in February, had "been very long" and he was one of the last to be called after a 15-hour wait.
"I really messed up my first balloon, although it probably added to the drama of it. I had no idea that the judges' faces were dropping, I was in my own wee world behind the blindfold," he said.
"I only learned those balloons seven days before it, but I had set it up so that the first balloon was the most difficult, the second the second most difficult etc."
A father-of-five, who grew up in Omagh and now lives in Beragh, Mr Tracey said he initially took up balloon modelling ahead of a first birthday party for one of his children.
"I thought I would buy some balloons and give it a go. I was terrible at it. I then learnt from videos on YouTube and people showing me.
"I have always worked a second job and I decided to set up my own balloon business out of passion but also to support my family."
He was persuaded - after initial objections - to apply for Britain's Got Talent by scouts who approached him in a bar in Omagh.
"When I applied to BGT I said that I wanted to 'change the world one smile at a time', although kids are worse than the judges."
Omagh St Enda's GAA said on its Facebook page: "It's not often that we can say that we have a world record holder in our club. Congratulations to club senior hurler Ryan Tracey on his magnificent achievement for his balloon act on Britain's Got Talent."
Auditions will be shown for another two weeks, before viewers get to find out who has made the live semi-finals.