Ireland’s latest Eurovision Song Contest hopeful, Brendan Murray, will take to the stage tonight in Kiev, Ukraine to perform his song Dying To Try as Ireland’s 51st Eurovision contestant.
Ireland’s Eurovision History
Given Ireland’s long and proud history of participation in Europe’s most celebrated singing contest, we take a trip down memory lane to reveal some interesting nuggets of information which many people might not be aware of, so you can wow your friends with your superior Eurovision knowledge when you attend your annual Eurovision parties!
10. Butch Moore and the Class of ’65
While the first ever Eurovision Song Contest took place in Switzerland in 1956, Ireland’s first participation was not until 1965, when Butch Moore performed “Walking the Streets in the Rain” and finished 6th overall.
9. Ireland Goes Missing In (Strike) Action
Ireland did not compete in the Eurovision in 1983 (Munich, Germany) or 2002 (Tallinn, Estonia). An RTÉ strike meant that the broadcaster did not have the resources to take part in 1983, while we were relegated from the competition in 2002 due to a poor performance the previous year after Gary O’Shaughnessy finished in 21st place after performing “Without Your Love”.
8. More Eurovision Wins Than Any Other Country
Ireland holds the proud record for the highest number of victories in Eurovision history, having come out on top in 1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996. We have also come second four times in the competition. However, Sweden is currently nipping at our heels with six wins! Ireland’s first winning Eurovision entry was “All Kinds of Everything” by Dana in 1970.
7. The Hosts With The Most!
Ireland have also hosted the Eurovision Song Contest more times than any other country (7 in total). Dublin is also the city to host the most Eurovisions, with 6 of Ireland’s 7 having taken place there. The Gaiety Theatre was first in 1971 the, RDS Simmonscourt Pavillion followed in 1981 and 1988, with the Point Theatre taking on hosting duties in 1994, 1995 and 1997. The Green Glens Arena in Cork’s Millstreet is the only non-Dublin based venue in Ireland to have hosted the Eurovision, having done so in 1993. This was the year in which Niamh Kavanagh won the contest with her song In Your Eyes.
6. Ireland Sees Double
Four acts have represented Ireland more than once – Jedward (2011 and 2012), Linda Martin (1984 and 1992), Johnny Logan (1980 and 1987) and The Swarbriggs (1975 and 1977). Logan has been the most successful, winning with both entries and going on to write 1992’s winning entry Why Me? which was performed by Linda Martin and kicked off a run of three Eurovision wins in a row for Ireland. To date, Jedward are the only act to represent Ireland in two consecutive contests.
5. Last But Not Least?
Ireland have suffered the indignity of finishing last at the Eurovision, with Dervish’s We Can’t Stop The Spring in 2007 and Ryan Dolan’s Only Love Survives in 2013 finishing at the bottom of the table, scoring only 5 points each. While this certainly sounds bad, it could be worse… Norway has finished in last place eleven times (meaning they’ve come last every fifth time of asking), an unenviable record to say the least!
4. Semi Final Woes
Ireland have failed to qualify from the semi final phase of the Eurovision Song Contest six times. The unlucky songs were Donna and Joe’s Love? (2005), Dustin The Turkey’s Irelande Douze Points (2008), Sinead Mulvey and Black Daisy’s Et Cetera (2009), Can Linn & Kasey Smith’s Heartbeat (2014), Molly Sterling’s Playing With Numbers (2016) and Nicky Byrne’s Sunlight (2016). Ireland, finds itself on a terrible run of form at the moment, having not qualified for the grand final since 2012. Our last grand final appearance was courtesy of Jedward’s energetic performance of Waterline.
3. Jedward Are The Real Winners
Speaking of Jedward, while the boys may not have won the highly coveted title, they currently hold two very unique Eurovision records – one for the biggest hair and one for the biggest shoulder pads, proving that there is more than one path to European glory! After all, the Song Contest is very well known for celebrating the wackiest of contenders.
2. Europe Loves Johnny Logan!
In 2005, Johnny Logan’s Hold Me Now was voted the third favourite song of the first 50 years of Eurovision in a vote held to commemorate the Song Contest’s 50th Anniversary and celebrate Europe’s very best songs. Johnny was beaten only by ABBA’s Waterloo (2nd) and Domenico Modugno’s Nel blu dipinto di blu (1st). Mr Logan also got to perform his new single, When a Woman Loves a Man, at the event, further cementing his reputation as a darling of the European music scene.
1. 1,000 Songs For Europe
Brian Kennedy’s Every Song Is A Cry For Love, which he performed in Athens, Greece in 2006, was the 1,000th performance in Eurovision history. Brian’s tune finished in 10th position on the night.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our rundown of interesting Irish Eurovision Song Contest facts. If you ever get invited to a Eurovision-themed pub quiz, this should work as the perfect cheat sheet!