Photo: Andres Poveda for RTE

Often a fan favourite, but rarely in the final, Ireland has struggled of late. After Brooke’s sad non-qualification in Turin this year, Ireland wants to shake things up with their slightly updated version of Eurosong 2023. During the most recent episode of the podcast Éirevision, Head of Delegation Michael Kealy teased some interesting changes for the nation’s Eurovision selection .

Although the Irish HoD expressed his love for Eurovision in the the podcast, he explains how being responsible for Ireland’s participation is sometimes very stressful. Especially when there’s a lot of criticism after a selection show, as was the case last February. The “studio panel” — which also served as the national jury — sugarcoated its review for every artist, even when sugar wasn’t called for. After the live performances they gave their feedback but nothing constructive to say (according to critics anyway). Fans and viewers weren’t impressed…and neither was Mr. Kealy!

He doesn’t think it was good TV and says it will definitely not happen again.

Next year, the Irish selection will once again take place within a Late Late Show Special, Kealy says. The big difference: it will be communicated right from the start that the judging panel can give their honest opinion. He explains: “We need to make it clear that they can say whatever they want [… ] That’s part of the deal. […] This will also make good TV.”

But there’s even more to that: The studio panel won’t have the right to vote anymore. So they will only give their opinion of all participating artists. There still will be a national jury though, which will consist of other people who are not on the studio panel. The Irish Eurovision act will once again be selected via televote, national jury and international jury.

As Kealy reports, the pre-selection will be very interesting this time, as established acts are more open to Eurovision now than in the past. That’s because many artists can’t ignore the world wide success of Eurovision acts like Måneskin and Rosa Linn. Kealy teases an exciting line up for Irish Eurosong 2023: “I think you will be surprised by some of the acts [of the Irish national final].” Bands Wild Youth and Cruachan have already expressed their intention to take part.

Kealy also reveals that two fast-tracked acts are already set for the final. In total there will be six entries on 3 February, which is the provisional date for Ireland’s Eurovision selection. Playing with numbers is still a thing in Ireland, so Kealy spoils us with even more interesting numbers: RTÉ received around 330 songs. Some applications received by RTÉ are completely useless though (a reality all HoDs will be familiar with). Someone, for example, just covered songs by Oasis and Ariana Grande. Those are, of course, ineligible to compete at Eurovision. 

A shortlist, consisting of 60 entries, already exists. At the moment, a jury is cutting down those songs to the final ten. Every judge is busy doing a ranking of their ten favorites and they will then hand it over to Kealy. He has already received some rankings and there are about three songs so far which are popular with everyone. The six highest-ranked songs will take part in the Eurosong final next February. The jury consists of music experts, people from RTÉ’s entertainment department and even Eurofans.

Another big topic: the language of the next Irish entry. Kealy says he understands that people would love to hear a song in Irish, as is the case in Junior Eurovision this year. But facts are facts: only one song out of 330 applications for next year is sung in Irish. Allowing a song to take part in the national selection only because of the language is not an option for RTÉ. Especially if the song itself isn’t strong enough. More specifically, Kealy says he doesn’t want to hear any plastic pop or soulless, manufactured songs. Eurovision has become much more authentic in recent years – so that’s what RTÉ is still looking for, according to Kealy.

Michael Kealy also talked about the coming voting changes for the Eurovision semi finals. He thinks it was obvious there would be changes after the irregularities of the 2022 jury voting. “There are countries who take advantage of jurors weaknesses. I think it’s a real shame.” Kealy states that he himself has never been asked to vote for a specific country. But he’s aware it happens regularly — and since at least 2013. That’s why he thinks it’s the right decision to let televoters decide from now on.

What do you think about Ireland’s way to handle Eurovision? Do you think it’s the right decision to have a national jury? Let us know in the comments below.

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FatherDougal
FatherDougal
1 month ago

Send Cruachan and Wild Youth please.

FatherDougal
FatherDougal
1 month ago

I actually entered not too long ago. I wrote a song about a horse.

Europotato
Europotato
1 month ago

Oh and that band crauchan will never qualify. Listened to their songs there and it’s just not good enough.

Europotato
Europotato
1 month ago

The sound at that studio affects the outcome. And also why don’t they just widdle it down to 40 songs and let the public do an online poll on what makes the final 6.

Mr X
Mr X
1 month ago

RTE should cancel this preselection show and better select directly Cruachan which already submitted a song for ESC.

Michael Crosse
Michael Crosse
1 month ago

The format has been decided now let’s get behind it I’d like to see 1 or 2 that are in tune with modern trends and tastes musically and particularly Eurovision music on the panel and fiachna of the hothouse flowers

Mr X
Mr X
1 month ago

Thta´s the bitter truth: Ireland had the worst song of esc 2022.

roro31
roro31
1 month ago

I have a feeling that Ireland is going to send something great this year to its english neighbour… Celtic rock or haunting celtic ballad ? 🙂

Go Ireland !

Mr X
Mr X
1 month ago
Reply to  roro31

I´m absolutely by your side with this opinion. Both could be great !

Matthew
Matthew
1 month ago

The way is going Ireland win ever again they’ve just wasted Years picking terrible acts the just like the BBC but this year the BBC got it right and I love BBC now amazing song for Eurovision an amazing song for junior both credible stars come on Ireland pull your socks up but in 2023 you’re going to come last again

Matthew
Matthew
1 month ago

Let’s be honest Ireland is never going to qualify again as long as we use this format if I was the boss of Ireland entry I would ditch the late night show to select the entry I would do what the UK did find a tiktok star if you can work for UK why can’t it work for Ireland

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
1 month ago

Ireland has a unique Eurovision history and a strong history of songwriting as well. There’s no reason why a good, touching Irish song can’t win Eurovision again. Evidently Eurosong is its own TV show and has different expectations, but my advice is the same: Don’t overthink the rules of the show. Just provide the good music and the good songs; the production and the audience will do the rest on their own.

Zisk
Zisk
1 month ago

Not to sound disrespectful but with the mention of “established artists” seeing the success of Maneskin and looking to compete, then mentioning rumours of Wild Youth and Cruachan… these are not famous acts here. The average person has no idea who these are and have never heard of them. That isn’t opening the door to more famous acts. It’s just getting rid of the policy of taking talent show rejects. Not a bad thing, but sounds like empty hype to me.

HarpyDarper
HarpyDarper
1 month ago

Really hope things improve for Ireland, was disappointed to see them miss out this year, but I want to see more effort, especially as Liverpool is a big Irish city! Geographically the closest it’s been in 25 years! Don’t like the final being on the Late Late Show, as that studio makes everything look and sound naff (expect for maybe Sinead O’Connor). I’ve said before they should break off and host it somewhere like the Helix, as it could have better production values and attract more interest. But someone on Reddit replied to me saying they would t bother doing… Read more »

Jofty
Jofty
1 month ago

I am sure the established acts are Irish and jumping on something called a bandwagon started by Maneskin, Rosa Linn and Ryder. And why not, can only be a good thing. Who are you expecting; Taylor Swift?

No name
No name
1 month ago

So many comments are getting downvoted lately, such a shame *certain* person uses bots to ruin the whole comment section

Stevia
Stevia
1 month ago

The fact there was only one song sent to the selection in Irish is sad : (

Sir Stevia
Sir Stevia
1 month ago

I hope this NF will be stronger than the previous. Ireland need to start send stronger entries.

Escfan
1 month ago

Frustrating when you write a comment and then you check back some time later to find its not there. Our hod seems to have changed his tune somewhat about pop songs given that he has called Eurovision a “pop” song contest several times in the past. In terms of the song in Irish, I wonder if its referring to a song completely in Irish because I watched an interview on a show recently where someone said they sent in a song with an Irish verse and tbh, I think having a song with one verse in Irish doesn’t necessarily qualify… Read more »

Jofty
Jofty
1 month ago
Reply to  Escfan

Patrick O’Sullivan was OK, wouldn’t mind seeing him back

Escfan
1 month ago

I mean I can be quite critical of Irish entries myself but I genuinely liked our entry for Turin. Brooke was committed to putting on a solid performance and I think she did a good job.

Escfan
1 month ago
Reply to  Escfan

Uggh are you one of these, “can’t have bops in the final” type of people? Must’ve not liked Romania qualifying so.

Escfan
1 month ago
Reply to  Escfan

I think many people would consider Fuego a bop, as they would with slo mo aswell. Like with any genre of music there can be several variations of a type of music including different types of bops (which ik isn’t a genre in itself but it is recognised by many ppl as a distinctive style of song). Personally, I like and dislike some bops, I think it mainly comes down to the breakdown, the choreography and overall performance of it if it is for a live event and especially professionalism, I love when a performance is well put together and… Read more »

MTD
MTD
1 month ago

Hah? Fan-fave?
Only in your minds Wiwi. No

Escfan
1 month ago
Reply to  MTD

Actually, last year, particularly during the rehearsals people started getting behind the Irish entry. Typically though, our entries are not fan favourites.

Dennis Kinghorn
Dennis Kinghorn
1 month ago
Reply to  MTD

Eurovision fans tend to like their girl bosses and Brooke fit that bill.

Liv
Liv
1 month ago

I wonder who these fast track entries are. Honestly at this moment that’s who I’m most curious about. I wager one is wild youth because they’ve been very vocal and are a current, successful act that would almost certainly be fast tracked to keep them in the competition. The other I’m not sure. Maybe Aimee?

Ron
Ron
1 month ago
Reply to  Liv

She dropped a tiny hint recently she might be involved, so you could well be right.

Im so fab
Im so fab
1 month ago

Oh yeah, Ireland participates in Eurovision. Almost forgot about it…

Lou
Lou
1 month ago

Lou here from the Éirevision podcast, thanks a million for listening! I suggest anyone in the comment section with questions or thoughts gives the episode a listen as we ask as much as we can and cover a lot of ground in it with Michael. Hoping a better 2023 for Ireland!

Ron
Ron
1 month ago
Reply to  Lou

Listened to it in full, Lou. It was very enjoyable!

BadWoolfGirl
BadWoolfGirl
1 month ago
Reply to  Lou

Great to see you, Lou. I discovered that Your podcast was on Spotify And I clicked on the follow button to subscribe to it.

Jonas
Jonas
1 month ago

This is worse. It’s not The X Factor.

Darren
Darren
1 month ago

Wild Youth are clearly fast tracked into the special. I mean…they just have to be.

But anyway, someone needs to tell Michael that the Late Late Show and good tv don’t belong in the same sentence.

But, glad the “judges” are able to be honest this time, last year EVERYONE was awesome.

I am also glad that acts such as Wild Youth are considering Eurovision though, that is a great step forward.

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
1 month ago
Reply to  Darren

Yeah, that’s a pretty good assessment. If there really are two fast-tracked entries to the show, one of them must be Wild Youth (I personally prefer Picture This, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s a current act willing to put itself forward, and we need that more than ever in Ireland, now). I have no idea who the other one could be. I’m glad that the so-called “expert panel” are not awarding points to the songs this time around. If they really thought Janet Grogan’s song would’ve done better than That’s Rich, they would’ve been very much mistaken, so… Read more »

Jonas
Jonas
1 month ago

I think the real reason for the judges is that they kill time and pad out the show.

BadWoolfGirl
BadWoolfGirl
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonas

Yeah, when you have only six songs to present competing to represent Ireland at Eurovision. Yeah, when you have only six songs to present competing to represent Ireland at Eurovision. I’ll be honest, I really can’t stand it when selections pad out their time when they have a small number of songs.

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonas

I know, but I dislike it because the public are well able to think for themselves and don’t need to be told what song they should be voting for, especially if they are clueless about Eurovision in 2023 and say stupid things like “this is so cheesy and sparkly that it belongs on Eurovision”, or “this is the type of song we should be sending because it’s what won us the contest 30 years ago”. The danger that the not-so-expert panel poses is that they completely and utterly mislead the viewers at home and then the wrong song gets chosen,… Read more »

Jofty
Jofty
1 month ago

This is exactly what happened at the UK selection in 2019

Escfan
1 month ago

Agree with you Deven, Rte have shown us over the years that they dont particularly care about Eurovision and theyre clueless as to the type of songs we should be sending. Also someone mentioned that the show is padded out by having a panel talking which could be the case, I dont really understand why our hod is so insistant on having only 6 entries for the selection. Like I think 10-12 is a nice number for any selection and if we had more entries, you could cut out some of the waffling from the panel as it really adds… Read more »

Thallo
Thallo
1 month ago

It’s simply not good enough, slight changes won’t work for a country at the bottom!

Michael Kealy is simply a man with a thousand excuses. I guarantee if another person (preferably someone who understands music, trends and pop culture) was HoD for Ireland they would have radical changes and ultimately begin a new era of Eurovision.

Michael is a lovely man but his time is done & I hope he makes the decision to move on.

BadWoolfGirl
BadWoolfGirl
1 month ago
Reply to  Thallo

I do think Ireland needs a new HOD, but what if there is nobody else who wants to take the position? That might explain why Michael Kealy is still HOD because who else wants it?

conortje
1 month ago
Reply to  BadWoolfGirl

If nobody would want it that is a result of years and years of neglect, incompetence and desperate taste by Kealy. In what other job could you get away with such terrible performance for over a decade? Sticking only with The Late Late show has alienated young fresher talent and given the whole thing a terrible reputation in Ireland.He has so much to answer for but seems to get away with it because Ireland is so small nobody EVER calls him out in interviews or in media.

Escfan
1 month ago
Reply to  conortje

Its sad because much like with the UK, in Ireland for the past few decades, a lot of people think negatively of Eurovision in Ireland or somewhat like a joke. That attitude that was prevalent with the UK for the last decade of, why do we send anything, x,y,z is going to win, its all a fix etc is unfortunately an attitude that a lot of Irish people have and although there are Eurovision fans in Ireland like myself, it very much feels like a lot of the population dont care and ig, because of that, Rte isn’t bothering to… Read more »

jnsfjd
jnsfjd
1 month ago
Reply to  conortje

the late late show isn’t the problem, it’s by far the most watched tv show in Ireland

Séamus Mór
Séamus Mór
1 month ago
Reply to  jnsfjd

But not by the same viewers who watch ESC.

Thallo
Thallo
1 month ago
Reply to  BadWoolfGirl

I’m sure there are plenty of young professionals working at RTE that want the HoD position. Michael just enjoys doing the Eurovision gig!

Michael just needs to step down for the greater good. He’s had an interesting run with some highlights and countless low points. Maybe if Ireland qualifies next year he’ll leave on a good note, but I’ve been thinking about that for years and it’s never happened. No amount of harsh critiques will make him leave either…

Colin
Colin
1 month ago

”The judging panel can give their honest opinion.”
Song 1: ”Masterpiece!”
Song 2: ”Better than Arcade!”
Song 3: ”The best Irish entry in decades!”

Fans:

  • ”5/10”
  • ”It was alright.”
  • ”Feels like a deja vu.”

Okay, to be fair, That’s Rich was good, and I really liked Brendan’s entry too, but the constructive criticism was nowhere to be found. It’s not like any of these songs would have qualified from that semi, yet the juries acted in esctasy all along. Before giving their low points, that is. What’s the point?

Thallo
Thallo
1 month ago
Reply to  Colin

These ”professional studio” juries were relatively unknown people to the Irish public, they were simply trying to be positive and get on the good side of RTE to book future work, ultimately it didn’t work out in their favour as the public saw right through them.

If Louis Walsh, Linda Martin or Eimear Quinn (or another established artist/judge) was on the panel, they would be brutally honest as RTE will rebook them no matter what they say.

Jonas
Jonas
1 month ago
Reply to  Thallo

One was a Corr, quite known.

Jofty
Jofty
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonas

As in the beer?

Jonas
Jonas
1 month ago
Reply to  Jofty

Corrs, not Coors.

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  Jofty

In the heat of summer sunshine, I’ll miss you…

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
1 month ago
Reply to  Thallo

If Louis Walsh is ever the answer, you have asked the wrong question.

Séamus Mór
Séamus Mór
1 month ago
Reply to  Briekimchi

You’re 100% correct, his protégé Brendan Murray is the perfect example of this.

Jonas
Jonas
1 month ago
Reply to  Colin

It seems the HoD agrees with you, which is why he will give instructions this year for them to speak their mind. Sugar-free.

BlueZone
BlueZone
1 month ago

Well done to Kealy for being real. Judges are there to judge, not engage in some toddler-type ‘you’re all special’ nonsense. If construstive criticism is needed, they should give it. Also good of him to address the Irish-language issue. Although an Irish song would be nice, quality needs to come first.

Jonas
Jonas
1 month ago
Reply to  BlueZone

Constructive criticism is not needed, at least not on the night of the final. A bit late then.

Skdkfl
Skdkfl
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonas

I mean it kind of is, one of those countries will represent their country so they tell them what to work on if they win and even if they don’t win what to do to get better

Jonas
Jonas
1 month ago
Reply to  Skdkfl

They don’t need to do that on camera.

Rall
Rall
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonas

So what’s the point in even having them there?

Jonas
Jonas
1 month ago
Reply to  Rall

“good television”