Wiwibloggs continues our new series looking at all the countries currently competing in the Eurovision Song Contest and why we love them — for all the right (and sometimes wrong) reasons. Today we land in the fair city of Dublin, the city that has hosted the Eurovision Song Contest more than any other.

Ireland was one of the most successful countries taking part in Eurovision over the last century, winning the contest seven times. Unfortunately to many, it seemed like Ireland never wanted to leave the successful nineties behind, resulting in their entries being called “dated” and “old-fashioned” by some Eurovision fans in the Noughties. Luckily they have copped on and we finally saw the Emerald Isle in the final again in Lisbon when Ryan O’Shaugnessy qualified with his song “Together”. That’s reason enough to let you know why we love Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest.

1. Ryan O’Shaughnessy represented a modern Ireland in which everyone is allowed to love (and fall out of love) with each other

When Ireland first participated in the contest in 1965, the country was conservative, Catholic and poor. The rights of LGBT people — and indeed women more generally — were especially limited in those days. But in recent years Ireland has made huge (and very progressive) strides. On the day of the grand final in 2015, marriage equality was legalised through a popular vote. While “Together” dealt with the heartbreak of a relationship, the music video was centred around two young men being in love before breaking up. Ireland also brought this theme to Lisbon, involving two storylines on stage: one between the female pianist and Ryan and the other between the two male dancers.

2. They made hosting Eurovision in a rural area work

After Ireland won its third Eurovision in 1992, many thought that the capital city Dublin would host the following year. But Noel C. Duggan — the owner of the Green Glens Arena — saw an opportunity for his stadium. After convincing RTÉ, his venue — which was used primarily for equestrian events — was chosen to host the contest.

Doesn’t sound like a bad idea… until you discover that the venue was located in a small town called Millstreet in one of the most remote parts of Ireland. The only way to reach the village was a three-hour car journey or four-hour train trip from Dublin or by taking another flight to Cork. Though with a lot of local and governmental support they made it work.

3. Betting is big business for the Irish and we enjoy it too

You can’t watch Eurovision without hearing about the bookmakers and their predictions of who is going to win. Some hate it, but it’s no secret that a lot of Eurovision fans take a gamble with the many Dublin-based betting agencies. Paddy has the Power!

4. Legendary interval acts

The interval acts at Irish-hosted Eurovisions centred around showcasing local talent, including the performances of the Hothouse Flowers in 1988 and the biggest boyband at the time, Boyzone, in 1997. However, the interval act in 1994 was the most iconic of them all. It was the year the traditional Irish theatre show and dancing group Riverdance debuted. Their performance got a standing ovation and the success of their interval act contributed to them being able to tour the world. They were the only interval act to make it to the Eurovision Greatest Hits show in 2015. Riverdance is still going strong — their name is branded on Dublin Bus as part of a promotion for their current show.

5. Eurosong served drama and everyone could understand it

Drama and Eurovision are nearly synonymous. Whereas in other countries you just hear screaming in an unfamiliar language, Eurovision fans could follow along with everything that happened during the Irish selection show Eurosong. During the show’s 2014 edition, mentor Billy McGuinness expressed his dissatisfaction at Louis Walsh’s involvement as a panellist, due to his connection with Eoghan Quigg and eventual winner Kasey Smith. After his mentored act performed, Linda Martin jumped to Louis Walsh’ defence, calling Billy McGuinness a “gobshite” and an “odious little man” — a quote Eurovision fans will always remember.

6. They gave us the only non-human act to represent a country

2008 was the first year in which the use of living animals was prohibited at the Eurovision Song Contest after Bosnian singer Laka wanted to bring a chicken on stage. But Ireland sent Dustin the Turkey. The puppet had been going strong on Irish and British television since 1989 and is known for his various attempts outside of the studio to throw a big troll act. After a political career, Dustin set his eye on singing at Eurovision, which would turn into “Irlande Douze Points”, an unsuccessful novelty attempt which stayed in the semi.

7. Jedward dared to go bright and bold with the LED

There had been LED screens at Eurovision before, but Germany’s in 2011 was big. It measured an impressive 60 metres by 18 metres. Ireland thought this was the perfect opportunity to really put the LED wall to work, with a bold red twin-tastic backdrop for Jedward. Since then, the LED has played a more important role in Eurovision performances. A fifth of all acts in Kyiv in 2017 used their faces and bodies on the LED wall — just like Jedward did years earlier.

8. All great Eurovision commentators were and are Irish

“Back off Brits, Terry Wogan and Graham Norton are ours.” It’s something you might hear from fanatic Irish Eurovision fans. Although fellow wiwiblogger Lucy named Graham Norton as one of the 10 Reason why we love the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest, he is undeniably Irish, as he was born and grew up in Ireland. The late Sir Terry Wogan even has his own statue in his place of birth, Limerick. Let’s not forget Marty Whelan himself, who’s been in charge of the Irish commentary for over 20 years now.

9. Their beautiful ballads

In fact, all of their winning entries went adagio rather than allegro, starting with Dana’s “All Kinds of Everything”. Even these days, the Irish love to choose a good ballad — including “Together” in 2018, “Dying to Try” in 2017 and “Playing With Numbers” in 2015.  Johnny Logan was a ballad-writing master as he wrote both Linda Martin‘s ballads “Why me?” and “Terminal 3” as well as his second winning song “Hold Me Now“. The Irish are very proud of his legacy.

Especially in the nineties they played their ballad game well as Niamh Kavanagh‘s ballad “In Your Eyes” was superior to any other ballad in the contest. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids”  won by a huge margin, while “The Voice” by Eimear Quinn brought us three minutes of magic back in 1996.

10. They really want to win again

It is no surprise anymore that the Irish love Eurovision and, after a 22-year dry spell, they want to bring the contest home again. Over the last two years, RTÉ has hosted a Eurovision Forum, bringing a group of experts, entertainment and music industry professionals, and fans together to discuss what Ireland could or should do to improve the current results. That shows the commitment and the passion for the event that Ireland needs and deserves. We can’t wait to see the results of that in 2019!

Why do you love Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest? Let us know in the comments below!

Read all our Ireland news here

See all our 10 Reason why we love… here

Picture sources: The Daily Edge, The Sun, The Telegraph, RTE Archives

Co-written by Deven O’Kearney

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Ana
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Ana

My reasons:
1. Johnny Logan and “Hold Me Now”. I loved that tune long before I heard of ESC.
2. Their not-so-trendy ballads. Maybe Brendan Murray and Molly Sterling didn’t qualify to their finals but I simply enjoyed listening to their voices. I wish Ireland won’t change their music style.
3. Hothouse Flowers and “Don’t Go”. I’m really happy you’ve mentioned them in the article! It was one of the very few songs from all the interval acts that I liked so much that I downloaded to my playlist. If they took part in the competition, I would totally root for them.

Jo.
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Jo.

They are finally learning with their mistakes, but slowly.

Maya G
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Maya G

Most of the contests held by Ireland were magnificently produced, and some of them even raised the bar and pushed Eurovision forward to be the spectacle it is nowadays.
Also, Ryan O’Shaughnessy is one of the funniest people ever!

Joe
Guest
Joe

I love Ireland in this contest. They’re getting their mojo back, they take it seriously, and their most iconic acts are all-time classics (The Voice and Rock n Roll Kids being my personal favorites). They know what’s up, even with the occasional turkey (ba-dum-tsshhh).

Herr Frau
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Herr Frau

They take it seriously? Ireland have been quite weak in recent years. They have so many good artists as well (e.g. U2, Westlife, Snow Patrol, Hozier). What do you mean by getting their mojo back? They’ve hardly upped their game! A 16th place in a final, hardly that impressive! If Ireland were on the left-hand side of the scoreboard for a few consecutive years, then I would say they’ve upped their game. It’s a bit like saying if San Marino came 3rd next year, we all just assume they’ve upped their game!

Joe
Guest
Joe

Don’t shame a country for trying. With a name like Herr Frau, I’d suspect (correct me if I’m wrong) that you’re German. Germany came fourth this year after years of poor results, so how would you like it if I said that was a fluke and they really don’t care at all?

Herr Frau
Guest
Herr Frau

Well, one country that has upped their game is France. After years in the bottom 5, France are finishing mid-table (on French standards, that’s good). I just didn’t understand you saying that Ireland do well again (they qualified for the first time in 5 years after finishing last in their last final appearance, only finish 16th overall). I’m not actually German, I’m from the UK. And yes, we keep making faults, but I feel a different atmosphere when it comes to the UK at Eurovision. It seems like the BBC are taking it a bit more seriously than they were.… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

Just the way Ireland have been talking about their plans and taking inspiration from Ryan’s success and their 7 wins give me the impression that they’re on the rebound

MusicIstheKey
Guest
MusicIstheKey

Ireland was rumoured to send Johnny Rotten this year. A punk rock legend would REALLY be something! But is Ireland too concervative for it? I am afraid so.

MusicIstheKey
Guest
MusicIstheKey

Reason no 1 is quite meh….One thing I love with Ireland is that they focus on music, not OTT stage shows. And they brought my alltime ESC favoruite song. Take Him Home, a great rockballad from 1988. Very original song

Joe
Guest
Joe

Love that song!

AngieP
Guest
AngieP

Ireland is (or rather was) the powerhouse of Eurovision. Ireland’s most amazing and iconic moments happened from the 70’s till the 90’s. In recent history, they aren’t as strong as the older days. Hope they find their way to success soon. Why I love Ireland at Eurovision: 1. Johnny Logan. This man is top! 3 wins (2 as a singer and 1 as a songwriter) and one of my favourite winners ever with “Hold me now”. What a masterpiece! 2. Riverdance. The most iconic interval act that we still remember until today! 3. They won 3 years in a row.… Read more »

Herr Frau
Guest
Herr Frau

Ireland needs to stop sending male ballads to Eurovision (we’ve seen enough of it from Ireland now). I think Ireland should get back their national final, where there’s a more diverse selection of songs. Ireland is in a similar situation to the UK, both broadcasters don’t really care nor take it seriously.

Ireland should send more electronic pop type songs, that is more liked upon nowadays!

James
Guest
James

They’ve only been sending male ballads for two contests straight. Before that was a pop song, the year before was a ballad sung by a woman that year.

Herr Frau
Guest
Herr Frau

A ballad by any gender then, doesn’t mean they’re all men!

Eastman
Guest
Eastman

Ireland needs to go back to a national final. But please not Eurosong! All that was good for was selecting Jedward in 2011 and Linda Martin’s “odious little man” outburst. Having a national final on the set of a serious talkshow was a terrible decision.

noone
Guest
noone

Ok, let’s address the elephant in the room: Ireland’s glory days were in the days of jury only votes. I doubt they would have won 7 times if there would have been a televote back then. Johnny Logan sure, but the 3 ballads from 90s? I think they would get televotes like Australia. If it were to juries today, AUS would also have won twice now and Austria this year. I personally don’t like any of the Irish winning songs, The Voice is nice though. And from the last 2 decades Ireland managed two decent songs: this year’s and Playing… Read more »

Sil
Guest
Sil

Good article, but you should focus more on the history. These texts are more about 2000’s. Don’t forget the history. You know, ESC has been around since 1956..

Mel
Guest
Mel

Can’t you tell that the blogger wasn’t even born before the year 2000? Those series should be definitely written by Robyn.

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

Renske is doing a great job in my opinion.

ESCFan2009 (male, 22, German)
Guest
ESCFan2009 (male, 22, German)

Uhm, I was born in 1996 and I am currently studying History with A+ grades. In your logic I cannot write an A+ essay about the Ancient Greek Colonisation because I am too young to have seen it live 😀 😀 😀 LOL!

Thomas
Guest
Thomas

They bring up Ireland’s forst win and its past quite a bit. Ireland debuted in 1965, brings up their phenomenal ballads, in the 70s 80s and 90s. They all talk about it.