Help us celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Eurovision Ireland by sharing YOUR favorite Irish Eurovision Winner of all time! Hell, Why not tell us Your favorite Irish NON WINNER too.This is the one time of the year when we can take a walk down the memory lane of Eurovision and ask ourselves “What’s Another Year” without Eurovision to look forward to.
Ireland holds the record for the most wins at Eurovision – 7 in total! It also holds the record for the most consecutive number of wins in a row – 3 in total 1992, 1993 and 1994. We also hold the record for the only broadcaster to host the contest 4 years out of 5 at any given period – so we and RTE are very proud of that record.So where do we start?
Lets’s take a look at our first Winner and the start of Your Favorite Irish Winning Eurovision Entry.
Dana – “All Kinds Of Everything” – 1970
The year was 1970. It was Amsterdam. The only news coming out of Ireland was the political unrest and violence that had erupted in Northern Ireland. These were sad scenes of our past and it is strange to think that a young girl from Derry would be representing Ireland at Eurovision that year. However on that night in 1970 Dana won the Juries of Europe and managed to unite the Island of Ireland in celebration for a brief moment.
Upon her return to Ireland she was greeted by thousands of people at Dublin Airport. AerLingus had specially painted the airplane that brought Dana back “Operation Dana”. Once her celebrations in Dublin were complete, the plane took Dana into Northern Ireland. What is very important to remember that this was the first time an aircraft had flown from The Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland. This was a truly historic event in Irish Social, Cultural and Political History.
Dana went on to massive commercial success with many hits and tv shows before deciding to move into politics where she has been a European Minister of Parliament and an Irish Presidential Candidate twice.
Johnny Logan – “What’s Another Year” – 1980
Ireland would place in the Top 5 several times at the Eurovision Song Contest during the 1970’s but a change in decade made all the difference. A young 24 year old man emerged who is now known simply as “Mr Eurovision”. 1980 and we were back in The Netherlands (The Hague this time). On the scene came a handsome young Irish man – Johnny Logan. He had been playing the dance halls around Ireland and had sung on stage with his father who was a successful tenor in his own right, Patrick O’Hagan.
Johnny Logan took to the stage in his famous “White Suit” and managed to win the contest over Germany (remember that fact). “What’s Another Year” went on to be a huge European Hit for Johnny and composer Shay Healy – even reaching #1 in the Uk.
Some people don’t know but the song was arranged by Bill Whelan – who went on to create “Riverdance” which is the most successful Eurovision Interval Acts to date and has toured the word to global success.
Johnny Logan – “Hold Me Now” – 1987
Following his success in 1980 – Johnny Logan was not able to fully capitalize on his Eurovision win. He released several songs like “Save Me”, “In London” and “Give A Little Bit More” and for varying reasons they never helped Johnny sustain a recording and musical career. However roll on 1987 and Johnny Logan penned the song “Hold Me Now”.
This time we are in Brussels and Johnny Logan is in a revised “White Suit” for this self penned song. “Hold Me Now” is a ballad sung from the point of view of a man whose love interest is leaving him for someone else (“from now on you’ll be with someone else instead of me”).
As the votes came through from the Juries it became clear that Johnny Logan was going to be the first artist to win the Eurovision Song Contest twice. Again Johnny had come first at Eurovision at the expense of Germany. Remember the German Fact I asked you to recall? Well Johnny Logan’s 2 singing Eurovision Wins denied Germany 2 victories and more importantly the same 2 German Composers – Ralph Siegel and Bernd Meinunger who composed Wind’s – “Lass die Sonne in dein Herz” in 1987 (2nd Place) and Katja Ebstein – “Theater (2nd place).
So if it wasn’t for Johnny Logan Germany would now have 4 Eurovision Wins instead of 2!
Linda Martin – “Why Me” – 1992
1990 saw Ireland narrowly miss out to Italy with the Liam Reilly Song “Somewhere In Europe Tonight” but this was to be the Golden Decade of Irish Eurovision Winners. Roll on Malmo in 1992 and we had the second attempt for Linda Martin to win Eurovision for Ireland. Linda had been narrowly beaten into second place by gold booted Herrey’s with their song “Diggiloo Diggiley” in Luxembourg in 1984. Linda back then had performed the Johnny Logan composition of “Terminal 3”. Linda and Johnny were close colleagues and friends in Ireland and Johnny again wrote another song for Linda to perform – “Why Me?”.Johnny Logan wrote this song while looking at his wife gardening and thought to himself how luck he was to be in love – hence “Why Me?”.
In a close contest Linda beat West End star Michael Ball from the UK with his song “One Step Out of Time” into second place and in doing so achieved her life long ambition of winning the Eurovision Song Contest.
For Johnny Logan this was to ensure his place in the history books as he had composed the song and thus became the only artist to ever win the Eurovision on 3 occasions. Next to Johnny Logan is Norwegian Composer Rolf Lovland who composed Norway’s winners in 1985 – Bobbysocks with “Let it Swing” and then again in 1995 with “Nocturne” for Secret Garden with Petter Skavlan, and Irish Composer Brendan Graham who composed Ireland’s winners “Rock n Roll Kids” in 1994 and “The Voice” in 1996.
Niamh Kavanagh – “In Your Eyes” – 1993
This Eurovision was a first for many reasons. When Linda Martin won the contest in Malmo it was expected that the show in 1993 would come from Dublin the following year. Null points for that guess. The tiny village of Millstreet in Cork was the venue and to this day is the smallest town to host Europe’s biggest contest ever. The town has a population of just 1,500 people but in the Green Glens Arena the world tuned in to see the Eurovision Song Contest 1993. This was to be a dramatic year at the contest where the result came down to the very last vote of the night and the results from Malta.
In a re-run of the 1992 contest – Ireland and the United Kingdom were the 2 countries neck and neck in the voting.
RTE had lost communication with the Maltese jury earlier in the voting sequence and had to call them back at the end of the broadcast. With Ireland leading by 11 points – and the Maltese voting throwing up many surprises, the final 3 sets of points were awarded. “Spain 8 points” – gasps from the crowd. “Luxembourg 10 points” – gasps turned to shrieks as Luxembourg had only 1 point until that moment after all the countries had voted. So whom ever received the 12 points between Ireland and The United Kingdom would win the Eurovision Song Contest 1993.
Once “Ireland” was called the celebrations that ensued have become part of Eurovision folklore. The audience erupted into song with the Irish football chant “Ole Ole Ole” to which the RTE National Orchestra joined in.
Niamh Kavanagh – who was working in a bank at the time and singing in bands at night – had performed on the soundtrack to the highly successful Alan Parker movie “The Commitments”. “In Your Eyes” was the biggest selling song in Ireland in 1993 and even charted in the Uk peaking at #24. Her first A&R Manager after winning Eurovision was none other than X-Factor Mogul Simon Cowell. Niamh tells the story that she pleaded with Cowell to allow her to cover the song “Without You” by Badfiner and later Harry Nilsson, to which he replied “Nobody wants to hear that song”.
Well in 1994 Mariah Carey took the song to #1 globally and remains her biggest selling single outside of the USA to date. Niamh returned to Eurovision in 2010 with the song “It’s For You” and took Ireland back to the Eurovision finals after a 3 year hiatus. Despite receiving one of the biggest applause on the night, Niamh came 23rd in the final. However the song is a fan favorite but back to her crowning glory in 1993.
Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan – “Rock n Roll Kids” – 1994
1994 saw Eurovision stay in Ireland but move back to the capital city of Dublin. We were now in The Point Depot (now called the O2). Ireland were being represented by the male duo of Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan with the song “Rock n Roll Kids”composed by Brendan Graham. Brendan had composed the Irish entry to Eurovision in 1985 “Wait Until The Weekend Comes” performed by Maria Christian which placed 6th in the contest.
This was the first time that a male duo had ever won the Eurovision Song Contest and it also was the first Eurovision Winning song where the orchestra was not used in the performance. Furthermore at the time it was the highest scoring Eurovision winning song with 226 points. Out of the 24 countries that could vote for the song – 20 of them had it in their Top 3, 8 countries awarding it 12 points, a further 8 countries awarding it 10 points and 4 countries awarding it 8 points. Only one country did not vote for Ireland that night – Greece.
The song is a gentle ballad lamenting the singers lost youth. They recall listening to the popular music of the time like Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley. Like life itself the song tells of the woes where we are “too busy running to a different beat” and people forget to call their old friends while their children “don’t wanna be around us no more”. Although it was eclipsed in the Irish charts by the success of the interval act of “Riverdance” – this song has been recorded by many artists over the years and has gained a new audience as time has gone by.
“Rock n Roll Kids” gave Ireland their 3rd consecutive Eurovision win that has never been equaled at the contest. This meant that RTE would host the contest for a unprecedented 3rd time in a row.
Eimear Quinn – “The Voice” – 1996
Eimear was no stranger to the Eurovision Stage as she had taken part in the Riverdance Interval Act at the Contest in Dublin on 1994. She was a singer with the Celtic Musical Group An Una who sang the opening sequence to Riverdance itself.
What is also very interesting about the contest in 1996 was that 29 countries had selected songs to enter the Eurovision Final. However 29 songs was too many to facilitate in the live show so a unbroadcasted semi final was scored on – via videos of the songs at their national selections. The 29 songs were reduced to 23 songs on the night of the Eurovision itself.
What is very interesting to note is that in the semi final Sweden won the vote with the song “Den Vilda” performed by One More Time. They had scored 227 points. Ireland had come second with 198 points and third was the United Kingdom with “Ooh Aah Just A Little Bit” performed by Gina G – scoring 153 points. However on the night of the song contest the results changed dramatically with countries like Croatia jumping from 19th in the Semi Final to 4th in the final!
Eimear scored a hit with “The Voice” in Ireland and gave composer Brendan Graham his second Eurovision Winning song. It also meant that the Eurovision Song Contest was returning to Ireland for a 4th time in 5 years and 1997 was the least time that we were to see the contest on Irish Shores. Eimear is still composing and performing her music across Ireland and still enjoys singing “The Voice” at her concerts.
So What Is Your Favorite Irish Eurovision Winning Entry?
Vote in our on-line poll and we will release the winners on St Patrick’s Day. A lot of memories there for you to digest and a hard decision to make. This time around there are no restrictions on how many times you can vote. So have some fun and enjoy the Eurovision Memories.
But hold on one minute! We are not yet finished. Not only has Ireland had some wonderful Eurovision Winning songs but we have had some great entries too. So we have decided to give you 2 polls : the second one for your favorite Irish Entry not to have won the Eurovision Song Contest.
Stay tuned for that one…..coming NEXT…
HAPPY ST PATRICK’S DAY EVERYONE
Author/Web-Site Co-Founder and Editor in Chief – Garrett Mulhall
(Photograph Courtesy of escireland.com)
(YouTube Videos courtesy of Embedded Ownerd)