From Linda and Johnny to Dustin and Jedward – top 12 best and worst of Ireland's Eurovision entries

We may have more Eurovision wins (seven, in case you’re wondering) under our belt than any other country, but over the course of the contest’s 63 year history we’ve had quite a few turkeys amongst our entries too (aside from the obvious). Here’s a rundown of the some of the more memorable performances from Ireland over the years, both good and bad. You can’t appreciate the former fully without remembering the latter so let’s kick off with the bad…

1977 The Swarbriggs Plus Two – It’s Nice to Be In Love Again

Tommy and Jimmy Swarbrigg represented Ireland in 1975 with That’s What Friends are For (the song parodied by Father Ted with My Lovely Horse), and returned two years later with two ladies – Nicola Kerr and Alma Carroll – in tow (the plus two of the imaginative title), like an Irish ABBA (the Swedes had won with Waterloo in 1974).  The Swarbriggs were less successful, however, coming ninth (the same position they had achieved in 1975).


1995 Eddie Friel – Dreamin’

Eddie was our entry in 1995, sandwiched between winners Niamh Kavanagh (1993) and Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan (1994) and Eimear Quinn (1996).  He didn’t fare quite so well.


2000 Millennium of Love – Eamonn Toal

The lads in the band sported some rather distracting mullets but aside from those, not even Eamonn’s decent vocals could save this one.  In fairness, he had to contend with lyrics including, “Celebrate the new millennium of love/Where our footprints leave a harvest for the children”.  Twas bad lads, twas very bad.


2007 – Dervish – They Can’t Stop the Spring

Dervish have had a phenomenal career spanning three decades.  They were let down by the styling on this one and lyrics like, ‘The curtain has been raised, the wall no longer stands / And from Lisadell to Latvia we’re singing as one clan’.  It was twee, when it didn’t need to be.  But you may have tapped your feet despite yourself at the same time.


2008 – Dustin the Turkey – Irlande Douze Point

Bertie Ahern had jsut resigned as Taoiseach, replaced by Brian Cowen, and we were being plunged into economic crisis.  It’s a good job we sent a turkey who, as expected, failed to qualify past the first semi-final.  “Where did it all go wrong?” he sang.  Indeed.


2012 – Jedward – Waterline

The lads were a surprise hit in 2011 with Lipstick, managing to finish eighth in the competition.  We sent them back the following year but Waterline didn’t quite reach those dizzying heights.  They made it to the final but finished 19th.


But sometimes we got it right…

Ireland has won Eurovision seven times, no less, and deservedly so when you consider these spine-tingling gems (we’ve left out Dana’s All Kinds of Everything purely for its lack of that spine-tingling quality).


1980 – Johnny Logan, What’s Another Year

One of the few genuine heartthrobs this country has ever produced, Johnny won the hearts of viewers across Europe… He won the competition purely on the merits of the song, however.  And what a song it was, full of longing and melancholy and the pain of lost love…


1987 – Johnny Logan, Hold Me Now

Seven years later he was back with a funkier hairdo and THAT white suit, singing, “Touch, touch me the way you used to do, I know tonight could be all I’ll have with you”.  I mean, he had his work cut out for him out-swooning 1980 but he managed it.

“For the last time….”


1992 – Linda Martin, Why Me

Linda Martin, who came second in 1984 with the Johnny (there he is again) Logan-penned Terminal 3, was back, this time with another song penned by Logan.  The perfect power ballad with perfect power styling for an early 90s win.  This song has fuelled Linda’s career which is still thriving today.  Europe still cannot get enough of it.  The power of music, eh?


1993 – Niamh Kavanagh, In Your Eyes

Linda won in 1992 with flaming red hair and a power ballad. The following year, a flame-haired Niamh Kavanagh won once again with another power ballad, this time written by Jimmy Walsh.  Hey, if it ain’t broke…


1994 – Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan, Rock n Roll kids

Forget all the bells and whistles and elaborate staging, this win was proof that all you need is a damn good song.  It would still bring a tear to your eye.  Oh, the nostalgia.


1996 – Eimear Quinn, The Voice

The Voice was written and composed by Brendan Graham, the man who had also written and composed Rock n Roll Kids, our 1994 winner.  Again, minimal staging, a great song, a beautiful voice = winner.  Graham had originally intended it to be performed by Dervish but saw Eimear singing with Anuna and you can see why he was enraptured…

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