Ryan O’ Shaughnessy will represent Ireland at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon with his song “Together”. Ireland’s third ballad in the past four years, it’s an airy, delicate song with a light gospel accent to it.
Irish Broadcasters, RTÉ, chose Ryan O’ Shaughnessy through a remodelled internal selection, which RTÉ hopes will break Ireland’s miserable curse of four straight non-qualifications. Over 300 songs were submitted last September, but Ryan O’ Shaughnessy’s “Together” emerged victorious from the closed-door proceedings.
His music video, which features a same-sex couple dancing and romancing on the streets of Dublin, led to media chatter that Russia might ban his performance. Ireland’s Head of Delegation has since confirmed to us that this hoopla was unfounded and based on nothing more than rumours.
As the competition draws near, we’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about Ryan. Déanaimis é seo — let’s do this!
1. HE’S AN ACCOMPLISHED ACTOR
Ryan started his career in the industry in the mid naughties – he played Mark Halpin in Ireland’s biggest soap opera Fair City. He featured regularly in the show from 2001 to 2009. He also acted in the fictional Irish film Poison Pen in 2014 among others.
2. HE PLACED FIFTH ON BRITAIN’S GOT TALENT
Ryan is most acclaimed for competing in the 2012 edition of Britain’s Got Talent, where he placed fifth. He auditioned with his original song “No Name”, which captured the hearts of many British and Irish viewers, especially judge Simon Cowell. His audition currently has over 46 million views on YouTube. This was the true kick-start to Ryan’s music career.
3. HE DOUBLE DIPPED WITH TALENT SHOWS
Ryan caused a bit of consternation when he competed on The Voice of Ireland at the same time as the filming for Britain’s Got Talent. Contractual obligations raised concerns about the singer’s eligibility to compete in BGT. Thankfully Ryan was pre-maturely eliminated from The Voice in the early rounds of the live shows, thus allowing him to continue his participation in BGT. Every cloud has a silver lining…
4. HE’S THE ONLY NEW ESC 2018 ARTIST TO HIT THE UK TOP 40
Other than this year’s Eurovision returnees, Alexander Rybak (Norway) and Waylon (The Netherlands), Ryan O’ Shaughnessy is the only newly-competing artist who has a UK Top 40 single – his BGT audition song “No Name” reached No. 31 in the UK, while climbing to the No. 3 spot in Ireland.
5. “TOGETHER” HARKS BACK TO IRELAND’S WINNING DAYS
O’ Shaughnessy’s “Together” is a slow-tempo ballad – and, as Ryan told The Irish Times, one reminiscent of Ireland’s golden era of Eurovision wins in the 90s. He has drawn comparisons to the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids”, who won the 1994 edition of the contest. That follows Louis Walsh’s approach of ‘going back to basics’ with Brendan Murray’s Eurovision 2017 entry for Ireland.
6. HE CO-WROTE HIS EUROVISION ENTRY
An esteemed songwriter, Ryan had a hand in writing his entry “Together”. He originally submitted the ballad with his vocals on the demo, but couldn’t envisage anyone else performing it – so he committed himself to the song during the selection process. He co-wrote “Together” with Mark Caplice and Laura Elizabeth Hughes.
7. HE SIGNED WITH SONY UK
Following his successful run on reality TV series, O’ Shaughnessy signed to Sony UK, releasing a self-titled EP with singles such as “Time Stands Still” and “Lost in You”. The EP topped the Irish album charts for three weeks in a row, whilst also hitting the No. 9 spot on the UK Album Charts. Ryan subsequently released a full studio album in 2016 called ‘Back to Square One’.
8. EUROVISION RUNS IN THE FAMILY
Ryan O’ Shaughnessy’s uncle – Gary O’ Shaughnessy – represented Ireland in Eurovision 2001 in Copenhagen. He sung a ballad called “Without Your Love”…which suggests this breed of balladry runs in the family. Let’s hope Ryan will receive a more respectable result in May, as his uncle finished 21st out of 23 countries, only receiving 6 points.
9. HE FEATURED ON IRISH SHOW “THE HIT”
The Dublin-based singer-songwriter featured in a one-time RTÉ music TV show called ‘The Hit’. The premise of the show was that renowned Irish artists listened to amateur songwriters who attempted to bid their own songs to these experienced Irish artists. The song he chose in the TV series — “Who Do You Love?” — peaked at No. 3 in the Irish singles charts.
10. HE’S HAD A US TOUR
Ryan has just completed a two-month tour of the United States. He travelled the breadth of the nation with his guitar performing his acoustic songs and hits in states such as Florida, Virginia and California. He finished the tour just recently, perfectly timed for his preparations for May!
What do you think of Ryan O’ Shaughnessy’s entry, “Together”? Do you think he will qualify in the first semi-final and break Ireland’s streak of non-qualifications? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.