Sarah McTernan will represent Ireland at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv with her song “22”. It’s a light summery track about past love with 1960s influences.
Irish broadcaster RTÉ chose Sarah through an internal selection process, which the network hopes will secure another qualification for the country after Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s breakthrough in 2018. The song received its live debut during a Eurovision-themed episode of Dancing With The Stars Ireland.
Since it’s St. Patrick’s Day — Ireland’s national holiday — we’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about Sarah McTernan. Déanaimis é seo — let’s do this!
1. She’s a talent show alum
As with so many Eurovision acts this century — including winners Alexander Rybak, Loreen, Måns Zelmerlöw and Salvador Sobral — Sarah is a TV talent show graduate. In 2015, she auditioned for The Voice of Ireland with Jessie J’s “Who You Are”, convincing all four coaches to turn their chairs. The panel featured Una Healy from The Saturdays and Westlife’s Kian Egan, but Sarah opted to go with S Club 7’s Rachel Stevens. It proved to be a canny move, and Sarah made it all the way to the final. She finished third behind Emma Humber and Patrick Donoghue.
2. She’s tried to represent Ireland before
Writing on Facebook in November 2017, Sarah confirmed that she had recorded a song to submit for Ireland “two years ago”. It’s unclear whether she was referring to 2015 — the last time RTÉ opted for a televised national final, which included Alex Saint’s “She’s So Fine” — or 2016 — when Nicky Byrne was internally selected with “Sunlight”. Regardless, the Ylva and Linda Persson penned “Eye Of The Storm” was passed over by organisers. The song later fell into the hands of Iceland’s Karlotta Sigurðardóttir, securing her a third place finish in Söngvakeppnin 2016. Afterwards, Sarah returned to the song and released it as a single herself.
She also unsuccessfully tried to represent her country in 2018.
3. She wanted to be the next Valentina Monetta
Determined to make it to Eurovision, Sarah soon set her sights further afield. When San Marino issued a worldwide call for artists in late 2017, she was among the hundreds to answer. She auditioned online with “Eye Of The Storm”, but didn’t gain enough public or jury support to reach the live shows. Ultimately, the 1in360 process was won by the Maltese-German duo of Jessika featuring Jenifer Brening (aka Jenny B).
4. She submitted a different song to RTÉ
The Irish broadcaster received more than 430 submissions for Eurovision 2019. One of the songs was “22” and one of the performers was Sarah, but they weren’t a ready-made package. Once again, she had entered with a Ylva and Linda track which failed to win over the powers that be. Nonetheless, Sarah’s “distinctive voice” grabbed their attention and she was paired with “22”.
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We’ve had rumour after rumour after rumour. And yet Ireland’s Eurovision 2019 singer is someone who (almost) managed to sidestep the speculation completely – Sarah McTernan. The 24-year-old will perform “22”, a song written by Janieck, Marcia “Misha” Sondeijker and Roulsen. Read more on wiwibloggs.com. #eurovisionsongcontest #Eurovision #eurovision2019 #esc2019 #daretodream Photos: Lili Forberg for RTE
5. Her path to success was foretold
Sarah recounts a visit with a psychic from several years ago:
He said, “You’ll get a little bit of a spike of fame and you’re career singing wise [from the TV show] but when you’re 23/24 it’s going to be like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. I see a massive stage, I see Eurovision.'”
The Voice hadn’t even happened and I was like, “What is he talking about?”
He also said that she would have a daughter. Since then, all three predictions/guesses have come to pass. Albeit, he was slightly off with the last one. Sarah turned 25 three days after she was announced as Ireland’s representative… close enough!
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What a cake! ?? ?? Ireland's Eurovision entry Sarah McTernan is in Tel Aviv for her postcard shoot. She flew over to Israel on Monday after her performance on Dancing with the Stars Ireland on Sunday night. ? If you follow her on Insta (@sar_ious) you'll see some of her adventures so far. RTE can't reveal too much about the postcard but she's in a desert location in Kibbutz Eliot. ? It was her birthday on Monday and she was presented with a stunning Eurovision cake – photo attached. All the kids in the kibbutz brought out the cake and sang happy birthday to her. ?? Sarah bumped into Georgian entry Oto Nemsadze in the hotel yesterday and chatted about their songs and excitement around the upcoming contest. ?: RTE #eurovisionsongcontest #Eurovision #eurovision2019 #esc2019 #daretodream #pressrelease
6. She was a viral sensation
In summer 2018, Sarah and daughter Mia went viral on Irish social media. It all happened when mummy sat down to record a cover of Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman” with baby Mia perched on her lap. Watch as the little girl’s jaw literally drops when her mother belts out the big notes.
7. She’s a prolific wedding singer
After her The Voice stint, Sarah set up a band called The Jeds. They performed at weddings and gigs in Co. Clare and the wider Munster region. She’s since joined a new group called Pulse.
8. She’s a multi-talented musician
Sarah is more than just a singer and can play no fewer than five instruments — traditional violin, guitar, ukulele, piano and tin whistle. She’s also dabbled with songwriting. The first track she ever wrote was called “Forever” and was dedicated to her late grandfather.
Seeing as its Thursday, here is a major Throwback. This is Sarah singing the first song she wrote as well as the music. 'Forever Now' is a song written by Sarah about her late Granddad, John, who she undoubtedly admired so much and who also had a massive impact in her life. From my understandings, it was only for her mother Sinéad who eventually persuaded Sarah into letting her record her singing it, as I believe it was Sinéad's birthday around the time and it was something her mam really wanted her to do. This was taken over three years ago, as the then shy, bright red-headed Sarah, gave us all the goosebumps with this song. We can ignore the quality and to just appreciate the music, vocals and lyrics. -Tasha. #TBT #ThrowbackThursday #OriginalSong #Music #Musician #SarahMcTernan #Singer
Posted by Sarah McTernan on Thursday, September 10, 2015
9. She’s had a varied career
Upon finishing school in 2011, Sarah took up a pre-nursing course. Next, she went on to study Music Technology at Limerick Institute of Technology. She parked the books while competing on The Voice and took up a part-time job at Penneys, the Irish arm of Primark.
— Primark (@Primark) April 26, 2015
She has also worked as a makeup artist.
10. She was a budding Rose
If there’s one event Irish people “love to hate” even more than Eurovision, it’s the Rose of Tralee. The annual beauty pageant takes place every August and sees women from across Ireland and the Irish diaspora compete to be crowned the fairest in the land. It’s embedded in the nation’s pop culture, regularly attracting half a million viewers and was famously parodied in the sitcom Father Ted. Last year, Sarah took part in the competition’s preliminary stages. She attempted to represent her native Co. Clare, but lost out to Clara Burke.
What a day Clare Rose of Tralee Centre? massive congratulations to Clara Burke for becoming the 2018 Clare Rose! So…
Can Sarah McTernan maintain Ireland’s quantification streak for another year? Could “22” even be victory number eight for the Emerald Isle? Let us know in the comments.
Read more Eurovision 2019 facts here.