Irish hopes were high heading into Thursday evening’s Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Final in Turin. Representing us was Brooke Scullion from Derry, with the song “That’s Rich“. Not since Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s “Together” in 2018 had we qualified for the Saturday evening grand final, and as Marty Whelan quipped on the commentary “We never deserve to not qualify, but we definitely don’t deserve not qualifying this year!” Alas, it wasn’t to be, as the viewer phone-in results from across Europe were announced, the Irish contingent had to agonisingly wait until all ten countries were announced to confirm that they would not get a second chance to perform on Europe’s largest annual televised music event.
Despite still holding the record for the most Eurovision wins (7), it has been a difficult number of years for the Irish at the contest. In fact, it has been 25 years since Ireland finished inside the top five of the Eurovision final, the last being Marc Roberts’ “Mysterious Woman” in 1997. Interestingly, this was the same year that any form of television audience participation element was introduced, as phone-in or ‘televoting’ was first introduced in a small number of countries. Within five years, all participating Eurovision countries had switched from a traditional jury vote to a public phone-in jury, a move which many believe contributed to the rise of ‘bloc voting‘, as European neighbours and allies began voting for each other, leaving countries such as Ireland and the United Kingdom somewhat isolated in terms of the voting process.
That being said, in the time that has passed, we have sent many notable acts, some of which have fared relatively well on Europe’s largest stage. In 2003 following huge public interest in RTÉ’s You’re A Star programme, we sent Mickey Joe Harte with “We’ve Got The World“, resulting in us finishing in a respectable eleventh place overall. Brian Kennedy represented us in 2006 with “Every Song is a Cry for Love“, seeing us finish in tenth position, and in 2011 we finished in eighth position when, for the first of two consecutive appearances, Jedward sang “Lipstick“.
All of this Eurovision disappointment got us thinking at the Circular – with a record seven Eurovision wins in our arsenal, we should celebrate each of the great songs that led us to European success. But, which one is the nation’s favourite? Have your say by voting on the poll below! And should you need a reminder, each winning entry is also listed below, in chronological order, for your listening pleasure.
1970 – Dana: “All Kinds of Everything”
1980 – Johnny Logan: “What’s Another Year?”
1987 – Johnny Logan: “Hold Me Now”
1992 – Linda Martin: “Why Me?”
1993 – Niamh Kavanagh – “In Your Eyes”
1994 – Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids”
1996 – Eimear Quinn: “The Voice”
Hopefully, this trip down memory lane has helped you to make your mind up, now go and vote for your favourite!
The Eurovision Song Contest Final airs on RTÉ One Television on Saturday evening at 8.00pm.