Ailsha is one of the six acts to compete in Eurosong 2024 — Ireland’s selection show for Eurovision 2024 in Malmö. Her song “Go Tobann” is a social commentary on Irish language education in her native country.Scroll to read the “Go Tobann” lyrics down below!

Ailsha at Eurosong 2024

With two musicians as parents, music is in Ailsha’s DNA. Despite that the Wicklow singer whose name is pronounced “El-sha” started out her career as a make-up artist and cruelty-free beauty blogger as a way to have a steady income.

She then graduated from a course in video games music composition at Griffith College in Dublin. Among her video game music credits is the soundtrack to the Big Brother video game.  

But most of all, Ailsha is now active as a solo singer, performing a mix of rock, metal and traditional Celtic sounds. Keeping her career going for several years already, she has recently been able to make her music heard on BBC Radio 1 and on stage during one of Ireland’s biggest festivals — Electric Picnic.

What do the “Go Tobann” lyrics mean? 

“Go Tobann” can best be described as a commentary on the Irish education system. Most people on the island only speak English and Ireland is regarded as one of the most monolingual countries in the European Union. 

Although Irish was the most spoken language in Ireland until the eighteenth century, only around 80,000 people were using Irish in their daily lives by 2022. Most of these Irish speakers live far away from the city in protected Irish-speaking communities called Gaeltacht — most of them on the West Coast of Ireland. 

Despite this, Ireland is a billingual state. All public services are provided in both Irish and English, stretching from billingual street signs to train announcements. Irish is taught in schools, starting from kindergarten up to the end of secondary school. In Dublin, a good number of schools teach through the medium of Irish. 

However, as soon young people graduate school, Irish becomes obsolete. Both working and student life are in English. On top of that, much can be said about Irish education language in general. Although many students spent over a decade in Irish language classes, most will not be able to hold a conversation. The final exam sees eighteen-year-olds still working with picture books to describe scenes in simple language. In that, they are often using the words “go tobann” to describe a change in the storyline.

“Go Tobann” describes this situation, which is especially relevant to young people who in many cases would love to speak good Irish. In the first verse, she sings: “Mirror, mirror on the wall / Tell me the truth, have I lost it all? / There’s a couple of things that I wanted to say/ But I’ve lost my vocabulary”. 

She continues in her chorus with phrases that all Irish students would remember from their Irish classes. Starting from counting from one to ten to the famous sentence: “An bhfuil cead agam dul go dtí an leithreas”, which means “Can I go to the toilet, please?”. 

Ailsha told the Irish public broadcaster RTÉ about the song: 

“As a child my family did some occasional work in Dingle, where I learned conversational Irish by visiting a neighbour for tea every day after school while we were there. I learned to love the language and was awarded a Fáinne in secondary school.”

“However, as I grew older I gradually felt my Irish fade away only to remember a few phrases. In Ireland I feel we don’t use our native language enough and it’s a shame because it’s awesome.”

Ailsha – “Go Tobann” (lyrics + translation)

Written by: Ailsha and Peadar Connolly Davey

Original lyrics

Mirror, mirror on the wall
Tell me the truth, have I lost it all?
There’s a couple of things that I wanted to say
But I’ve lost my vocabulary
 
Haon, dó, trí, ceathair, cúig, sé, seacht, ocht
Níl Gaeilge agam níos mó, níos mó
Haon, dó, trí, ceathair, cúig, sé, seacht, ocht
Níl Gaeilge agam níos mó
 
Go tobann
 
Oh, no, I don’t know this part
(Gabh mó leithscéal! Gabh mó leithscéal!)
Do you wanna be a star?
(Is fearr Gaeilge briste ná Béarla cliste)
 
Haon, dó, trí, ceathair, cúig, sé, seacht, ocht
Níl Gaeilge agam níos mó, níos mó
Haon, dó, trí, ceathair, cúig, sé, seacht, ocht
Níl Gaeilge agam níos mó
 
Go tobann
 
An bhfuil cead agam dul
An bhfuil cead agam dul
An bhfuil cead agam dul
Go dtí an leithreas
An bhfuil cead agam dul
An bhfuil cead agam dul
An bhfuil cead agam dul
Go dtí an lеithreas
An bhfuil cead agam dul
An bhfuil cead agam dul
An bhfuil cеad agam dul
Go dtí an leithreas
An bhfuil cead agam dul
An bhfuil cead agam dul
An bhfuil cead agam dul
Go dtí an leithreas
Go tobann!
 
Níl aon Gaeilge agam níos mó
Go tobann
Haon, dó, trí, ceathair, cúig, sé, seacht, ocht
Níl Gaeilge agam níos mó, níos mó
Haon, dó, trí, ceathair, cúig, sé, seacht, ocht
Níl Gaeilge agam níos mó
Go tobann

English translation

Mirror, mirror on the wall
Tell me the truth, have I lost it all?
There’s a couple of things that I wanted to say
But I’ve lost my vocabulary
 
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight
I can’t speak Irish no more, no more
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight
I can’t speak Irish no more
 
Suddenly
 
Oh, no, I don’t know this part
{Excuse me! Excuse me!)
Do you wanna be a star?
(I prefer broken Irish to fluent English)
 
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight
I can’t speak Irish no more, no more
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight
I can’t speak Irish no more, 
 
Suddenly
 
Am I allowed to go
Am I allowed to go
Am I allowed to go
To the toilet
Am I allowed to go
Am I allowed to go
Am I allowed to go
To the toilet
Am I allowed to go
Am I allowed to go
Am I allowed to go
To the toilet
Am I allowed to go
Am I allowed to go
Am I allowed to go
To the toilet
Suddenly!
 
I don’t speak Irish no more
Suddenly
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight
I can’t speak Irish anymore, anymore
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight
I can’ t speak Irish anymore
Suddenly

Translation and additional reporting by Deven O’Kearney

What do you think about Ailsha’s song? Do you think she will win Eurosong 2024? Are you streaming “Go Tobann”? Let us know in the comments down below!

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Zhenia
Zhenia
2 months ago

It’s nice to see the Irish send something with a more political and original edge, lyrics-wise, rather than a generic love song.

Yuarith
Yuarith
2 months ago

I hate that The Late Late Show has this outdated and unfit format for a song selection. Also, it feels rigged towards “safe” or “familiar” acts and performances, which doesn’t help its case.
Anyways, I hope THE miracle happens and Ailsha wins against all odds, Erica Cody would be Wild Youth 2.0

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
2 months ago

Erica Cody could easily win according to the sudden change in odds recently. I wonder why? Out of all the NF, this is the one that I’m most fearful the most about not winning despite the hype and the fact that it would be indeed the song for Ireland that has the most chance of doing well! Come on Ireland! If you can watch the show on Friday please vote for Ailsha!

Tipi Tii
Tipi Tii
2 months ago

Ailsha should record a celtic ballad version of this.

Tipi Tii
Tipi Tii
2 months ago

I can’t listen to this from start to finish. The lyrics are good but the rest…

Skirmy
Skirmy
2 months ago

Praying that the live performances this Friday will match the vibe and Ireland will send this to Malmo!!!!!!

clothespin
clothespin
2 months ago

I feel like most people are deciding between Doomsday Blue and Go Tobban
Personally, I prefer Doomsday Blue, HOWEVER, I really hope Alisha wins. I’m just unsure Doomsday Blue is as accessible and able to qualify. I just hope people keep that in mind when voting. They both have a similar voting base and I’m scared they will accidentally split it. IMO, fans should unite behind Alisha, but I’m happy if either wins. That’s just what I think

Jake Dallas
Jake Dallas
2 months ago
Reply to  clothespin

I’ve seen this been considered as a possibility. But one vote in Ireland is only 69 cent, which might seem like much, but isn’t so bad compared to €1.70 in Estonia. I feel like if people think that Go Tobann and Doomsday Blue are the best choices to do well at ESC (let’s face it, they are), I see no reason why they can’t vote for both and have them dominate the televote. The way I see it, the main battle in this selection is between the safe songs that the Irish public and jury might like (Love Me Like… Read more »

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
2 months ago
Reply to  clothespin

I wonder if it will cause a split on the votes due to how they are both the ‘weird’ entries causing Erica Cody or one of the others to win? Maybe Doosmday Blue fans should unite under Ailsha?

Zisk
Zisk
2 months ago

I like the meaning behind it and we need more people to preserve the language but also as somebody with enough Irish to be able to make out the lyrics without a translation, it’s uhhhh honestly a little cringeworthy. An 8 year old could have written these lyrics in a classroom.

Jonas
Jonas
2 months ago
Reply to  Zisk

Isn’t that deliberate? Seems to be the point Ailsha is making, in a humourous way.

Zisk
Zisk
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

Hence why I agree with the message but not the execution. It doesn’t really come across as humorous, it’s not even a particularly original joke. I can think of multiple other songs that humorously try to mention the toilet phrase. That or a leigh anois go curamach.

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
2 months ago

I so hope this is good live, but I worry because the NF is on our main talk show (and unfit to host a national final) and because the song is full of vocal wizardry that would even be hard to pull off at Eurovision. Still, this is good and deserves to be one of the contenders on Friday night.

Tobann, go
Tobann, go
2 months ago

I don’t know how Erica Jane is number 1 in the odds now and Ailsha is not even close

Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Tobann, go

Erica is well known to RTE viewers she came 2nd in dancing with the stars, she has a generic song that will be very national jury friendly. I’d expect a similar result as last year…. the jury might kills Alisha’s chance’s the the public already know Erica…. Seems like the same situation as last year…

Escfan
2 months ago
Reply to  Tobann, go

Erica is basically the Wild Youth of this years selection. She was runner up on Dancing with the stars, she hosted a show on RTÉ last year showcasing Irish artists (one being wild youth, where they announced there interest in going to esc) and is definitely the most known name in the selection. I’m just hoping enough Irish ESC fans (and I’ll be voting too) can get behind Ailsha and Bambi’s song and push them near the top of the public vote because the typical late late show viewer will prob have Erica and the boy band near the top… Read more »

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
2 months ago

A really great song and THIS IS THE ONE for Ireland! However, I know the odds dont matter much but I recently looked at Eurovisionworld and it’s now saying Erica Cody has a large chance to win! Originally, Ailsha was 1st in the odds by a large amount but she’s dropped! Checking the odds again today, Erica Cody now has a 44% chance to win and Ailsha’s song has dropped to the level of Bambie Thug’s song at 21%! I am SUPER worried now Go Tobann won’t be able to go to Malmo. Looking at the streams and views, it… Read more »

Dr Fergal Sherlock
Dr Fergal Sherlock
2 months ago

ADGY was my favourite last year too… Amazing track. BUT he and the other fan favourites were terrible live… I was fuming!

For me… Bambi, Alisha, Erica… Let’s see how they do live. I can’t see how Ailsha can showcase that highly processed track ‘live’… But guess we’ll see.

Jofty
Jofty
2 months ago

That Adgy track could have been a chart and radio hit in the right hands. And he was easy on the eye. But I doubt he would have qualified.

Serenade
Serenade
2 months ago

Erica is heavily promoted in Ireland and has connections to the broadcaster. That explains why she is the favorite.

Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Serenade

Yup so true, Irish jury top pick will be Erica… International vote will go to Go Tobann, and the public know Erica already from RTE dancing with the stars… That’s why she’s favourite in the odds

Lauren MIA
Lauren MIA
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

So does that mean someone ending up second with both could sneak up and win instead of these two? Who would that be, I wonder. Bambie Thug? Next in Line?

Yuarith
Yuarith
2 months ago

I hate The Late Late Show’s outdated format and that it seems rigged towards “safe” performances

Ria NL
Ria NL
2 months ago

I don’t like the song

Henning
Henning
2 months ago
Reply to  Ria NL

Ok

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
2 months ago

I have since listened to a “cleaned up” recording of this song and I have a bit more respect for it now. Its music mix is rather unique. It’s certainly not an average protest song. It’s perfect for a song contest, because it really stands out as a fresh sound. Plus, it has real meaning as a protest song, even if the lyrics are rather silly.

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
2 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

The lyrics are intentional. It’s not a typical ‘protest’ song. Instead it’s about finding an awakening and a new love for Irish amongst the Irish.

Shush
Shush
2 months ago

I really think that this message needs to be conveyed in the performance for it to do well.

Jonas
Jonas
2 months ago

Hm, I think it is worth mentioning just WHY the language died off. Colonialism/imperialism. In 1801, Ireland was forcibly made part of the newly formed United Kingdom. British soldiers moved in to literally beat the language out of the people. It was made illegal. All education was to be conducted in English, all placenames Anglicized. Irish citizens treated like apes, natives, savages. Then of course came famine, in the 1840s. If Queen Victoria and the British parliament truly regarded Ireland as part of the UK, they might have maybe shared some food… but no. Instead, they let millions die. What… Read more »

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

Go raibh míle maith agat. Foghlaimítear an stair.

Jonas
Jonas
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

P.S. Also worth reflecting on the parallels between Ireland/UK, and Ukraine/Russia!

Some homework for you, you’re welcome.

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

Also, the Irish governments STILL aren’t doing enough to teach and allow young Irish people to be invested in the language. It’s like the song – you learn certain phrases, like ‘May I go to the toilet’ and you remember that all your life but nothing truely meaningful.

Jofty
Jofty
2 months ago

Or pog mo thoin

Serenade
Serenade
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

It’s really sad that Irish, just like Belarusian for example, is definitely an endangered language. Thanks for the history lesson also! Always a good reminder.