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  • Writer's pictureAlyce Collett

Where next for Ireland at Eurovision?

Irish representative Lesley Roy (Credit: Luca Truffarelli)

In the 20th century Ireland was the king of Eurovision.

They won the most Eurovision titles and are the only country to have won the contest three years in a row.

But since the turn of the century, the Irish fortunes at the contest have taken quite the nosedive.

Not that Irish fans need reminding, but in the last seven contests alone, Ireland have qualified for the Grand Final only once. That’s less than San Marino.

In 2021 they finished last place in the semi-final for the second contest in a row.

Something must drastically change in order to stop Ireland getting such bad results, so let’s take a look at what Ireland can do to reverse their fortunes.

Change the style of music

Firstly, completely change the type of song you send, and potentially even the language of said song.

Although they have plenty of popular Irish artists to choose from such as Dermot Kennedy, Hozier and Niall Horan, their music may not stand out enough at Eurovision.

With a few exemptions, pop songs just haven’t worked for Ireland, so that’s why they need to go traditional.

Traditional Irish music is unique, beautiful and also popular around the world. It has also a winning formula for Ireland at the contest.

Yes it didn’t exactly work in 2007, but as Eurovision in recent years is rewarded authenticity, perhaps time for Ireland to return to this path.

Bring in language

If they don’t go down the traditional Irish music path, Ireland should at least consider sending a song in, or partly in, Gaelic.

In a line-up that is becoming increasingly filled with English language songs, a non English song is a nice way to stand out from the rest.

Sending a song in native language has worked for Serbia, Slovenia and Albania in the past few years, so why not Ireland too?

Yes Gaelic is not as wildly spoken across Europe and Australia as Serbian or Albanian, but the right song and staging could counter that barrier.

Who could do this?

One artist that ticks both of those boxes is Celtic Woman. Celtic Woman are a group that have been around for a while, and are a group that sing traditionally Irish songs with a hint of Gaelic in their lyrics.

Although many of their songs are covers (they’ve even covered the 1996 Eurovision winner ‘The Voice’), that doesn’t mean they can't write something themselves or work with others on a composition.

Bring back a National Final

The other thing RTE could change to try and improve their Eurovision record is bring back a National Final.

The last few years have proven that songs selected through some sort of National Final have a better track record of success, whereas Ireland have sent internal selections and haven't done as well.

Funding can be an issue at RTE, but they don’t need to aim for the Melfest scale National Final straight away.

They can aim for something like the Czech online National Final or something like the Australia Decides model first up, and then build it up.

The fact that the Irish Head of Delegation has already hinted at the potential of the return of a National Final is very promising to hear, and I hope they act on that and actually make a National Final happen.

More promotion

If they don’t bring back a National Final next year, at least give the 2022 artist more chances to perform the song live

They need to drum up support around Europe for the song, and one performance on 'The Late Late Show' is just not enough anymore.

In the end, it’s sad to see Ireland so far down the Eurovision ladder, and it would be good to see them back up the top of the tree again.

Níl aon rud níos mó uaim ná Éire a fheiceáil ar bharr clár ceann riain Eurovision, agus sílim fós gur féidir libh é a dhéanamh lá amháin go luath.


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