Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest

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Member station RTÉ
National selection events National Song Contest
(1987–2001, 2008)
You're a Star
The Late Late Show
(2006–2007, 2009–present)
Appearances 47 (44 finals)
First appearance 1965
Best result 1st: 1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996
Worst result Last: 2007, 2013
External links
RTÉ website four
Ireland's page at

Ireland is the most successful country in the Eurovision Song Contest. They first took part in the 1965 Contest in Naples, participating in every subsequent Contest but two: the 1983 Contest in Munich and the 2002 Contest in Tallinn. Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) is Ireland's representative broadcaster at the Contest, and broadcasts the Contest annually; the semi-finals are broadcast on RTÉ Two and the final on RTÉ One.[1] All of the Irish entries have been performed in English with the exception of the 1972 entry, "Ceol an Ghrá", which was sung in Irish.

On seven occasions the Contest has been hosted by Ireland, all but one of these in the capital Dublin, while the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest was staged in Millstreet, a town in north-west County Cork with a population of 1,500 people[2] following Linda Martin's victory in 1992.

Ireland won the Contest for the first time in 1970 with Dana performing "All Kinds of Everything". In total, Ireland has won the Contest seven times, more than any other country, including an unequaled three consecutive victories in the 1990s (1992, 1993 and 1994 - the most consecutive wins accumulated by a country to date). The decade also saw yet another victory in 1996 and two second place finishes (in 1990, 1997) which gives Ireland the best overall performance by any country in the history of the Contest.


Ireland has competed in the Contest almost continuously since the country's debut in 1965 (absent in 1983 and 2002). In 1983 a strike at the country's national broadcaster RTÉ meant that the station lacked the resources to send a participant so RTÉ broadcast the Contest with the BBC commentary feed. In 2002 Ireland was relegated from the Contest. In keeping with the EBU rules, RTÉ broadcast that year's event as they intended to return in 2003, and a TV commentator was sent to the host city, Tallinn.

Ireland has sent 45 entries to the Eurovision Song Contest; of these seven have won and eighteen have finished in the top five. Ireland has been relegated once: in 2001 Gary O'Shaughnessy finished twenty-first with "Without Your Love,". In addition, six Irish entries have featured in the semi-final of the Contest. In 2005, Donna & Joe finished fourteenth in the pre-qualifier, failing to qualify for the final. In 2006, Brian Kennedy finished ninth in the semi-final, ensuring an Irish presence in the Athens final. Kennedy finished tenth in the final. Ireland also featured in the first semi-final in 2008 and in the second semi-final in 2009, however the representatives failed to qualify for the final in both years.

Ireland's recent results in the Contest have been poor in comparison to the 1990s, coming last in 2007 and 2013. At the Contest in 2007, Ireland's representatives were traditional Irish music group Dervish performing "They Can't Stop The Spring". The group, having automatically qualified for the final, finished last with five points, all from Albania. In 2008, Dustin the Turkey failed to qualify for the final with his song "Irelande Douze Pointe", losing out in the semi-final on May 20. The same fate befell Sinéad Mulvey and Black Daisy in the 2009 semi-final on May 14.[3] In 2011 however, Ireland's luck changed as they sent X Factor finalists Jedward. The duo finished in eighth place, with 119 points, thus making them Ireland's most successful entry in 10 years. Their single Lipstick topped the iTunes charts in Austria, Germany, Ireland and Sweden. Jedward represented Ireland again in 2012 with their song Waterline, but after making it through the first semi-final, were only awarded 46 points, finishing in 19th place.

Seven singers have represented Ireland more than once at the Contest: Johnny Logan (1980, 1987), Linda Martin (1984, 1992), Niamh Kavanagh (1993, 2010), Tommy and Jimmy Swarbrigg (as "The Swarbriggs" in 1975 and part of "The Swarbriggs Plus Two" in 1977), Maxi (as a soloist in 1973 and as part of Sheeba in 1981) and Jedward in 2011 and 2012.

Eight people have written and composed more than one Irish entry: Brendan Graham (1976, 1985, 1994, 1996), Johnny Logan (1984, 1987, 1992), Tommy and Jimmy Swarbrigg (1975, 1977), Liam Reilly (1990, 1991), Joe Burkett (composer 1972, lyricist 1981), and Niall Mooney & Jonas Gladnikoff (2009, 2010).[4]

Almost all of Ireland's Eurovision entries prior to 1998 were conducted by Noel Kelehan. The exceptions were 1965 (Gianni Ferrio), 1970 (Dolf van der Linden), from 1972 to 1975 (Colman Pearce), 1979 (Proinnsias Ó Duinn), 1994 (no conductor, although Kelehan conducted other entries) and 1997 (Frank McNamara).

Ronan Keating (who also presented the 1997 contest) had collaborated on the 2009 entry for Denmark.[5]

RTÉ presenter Marty Whelan has been the national commentator since 2000.[6]


Ireland holds the record for the greatest number of victories: seven wins including three consecutive wins. The country has also achieved second place four times and third once.

Ireland is one of the few countries to have achieved consecutive wins (along with Spain, Luxembourg and Israel) and the only country to win consecutively three times, and the nation won again in 1996, so now four victories were achieved in five years.

Ireland ranks fourth in cumulative points with 18 top 5 placings.

Ireland is the only country to host the Contest consecutively and is one of eight countries never to turn down the chance to host the Eurovision Song Contest.

Out of 47 appearances, Ireland has placed outside the top ten only 14 times (counting only the Finals).

Ireland holds the record for most points from one country in a year in the 'one point per juror' voting system, achieving nine votes out of a possible ten from Belgium.

Ireland has an average of 74 points per contest, the highest average 2 points above the United Kingdom.


Table key

     Second place
     Third place
     Last place
     Automatically qualified to the final
     Did not qualify for the final
     Did not compete or was relegated
Year Artist Title Final Points Semi Points
1965 Butch Moore "Walking the Streets in the Rain" 6 11
No Semi-Finals
1966 Dickie Rock "Come Back to Stay" 4 14
1967 Sean Dunphy "If I Could Choose" 2 22
1968 Pat McGeegan "Chance of a Lifetime" 4 18
1969 Muriel Day "The Wages of Love" 7 10
1970 Dana "All Kinds of Everything" 1 32
1971 Angela Farrell "One Day Love" 11 79
1972 Sandie Jones "Ceol an Ghrá" 15 72
1973 Maxi "Do I Dream" 10 80
1974 Tina Reynolds "Cross Your Heart" 7 11
1975 The Swarbriggs "That's What Friends Are For" 9 68
1976 Red Hurley "When" 10 54
1977 The Swarbriggs Plus Two "It's Nice To Be In Love Again" 3 119
1978 Colm 'C.T.' Wilkinson "Born to Sing" 5 86
1979 Cathal Dunne "Happy Man" 5 80
1980 Johnny Logan "What's Another Year?" 1 143
1981 Sheeba "Horoscopes" 5 105
1982 The Duskeys "Here Today Gone Tomorrow" 11 49
Did Not Compete
1984 Linda Martin "Terminal 3" 2 137
1985 Maria Christian "Wait Until the Weekend Comes" 6 91
1986 Luv Bug "You Can Count On Me" 4 96
1987 Johnny Logan "Hold Me Now" 1 172
1988 Jump The Gun "Take Him Home" 8 79
1989 Kiev Connolly & The Missing Passengers "The Real Me" 18 21
1990 Liam Reilly "Somewhere In Europe" 2 132
1991 Kim Jackson "Could It Be That I'm In Love" 10 47
1992 Linda Martin "Why Me?" 1 155
1993 Niamh Kavanagh "In Your Eyes" 1 187
Reigning Champion
1994 Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan "Rock 'n' Roll Kids" 1 226
No Semi-Finals
1995 Eddie Friel "Dreamin'" 14 44
1996 Eimear Quinn "The Voice" 1 162 2 198
1997 Marc Roberts "Mysterious Woman" 2 157
No Semi-Finals
1998 Dawn Martin "Is Always Over Now?" 9 64
1999 The Mullans "When You Need Me" 17 18
2000 Eamonn Toal "Millennium of Love" 6 92
2001 Gary O'Shaughnessy "Without Your Love" 21 6
Relegation from Participating
2003 Mickey Harte "We've Got the World" 11 53
2004 Chris Doran "If My World Stopped Turning" 23 7
Top 11 Previous Year
2005 Donna and Joe "Love?"
Failed to qualify
14 53
2006 Brian Kennedy "Every Song Is a Cry for Love" 10 93 9 76
2007 Dervish "They Can't Stop the Spring" 24 5
Top 10 Previous Year
2008 Dustin the Turkey "Irelande Douze Pointe"
Failed to qualify
15 22
2009 Sinéad Mulvey & Black Daisy "Et Cetera"
Failed to qualify
11 52
2010 Niamh Kavanagh "It's for You" 23 25 9 67
2011 Jedward "Lipstick" 8 119 8 68
2012 Jedward "Waterline" 19 46 6 92
2013 Ryan Dolan "Only Love Survives" 26 5 8 54
2014 Can-Linn feat. Kasey Smith "Heartbeat"
  • NOTE: If a country had won the previous year, they did not have to compete in the semi-finals the following year. In addition from 2004-2007, the top ten countries who were not members of the big four did not have to compete in the semi-finals the following year. If, for example, Germany and France placed inside the top ten, the countries who placed 11th and 12th were advanced to the following year's grand final along with the rest of the top ten countries.

Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest[edit]

Ireland was one of two countries to have two entries entered into Congratulations (Eurovision) with Johnny Logan's 1980 "What's Another Year?" and 1987 "Hold Me Now" winning songs. Ireland's 1997 host Ronan Keating appeared. Johnny Logan performed his new single "When a Woman Loved a Man". Irish winners Eimear Quinn, Charlie McGettigan and Linda Martin performed as backing singers to most of the songs with Jakob Sveistrup who represented Denmark in 2005. It was finally revealed after the show the Johnny Logan's "Hold Me Now" was voted the third most favourite song in the first fifty years of Eurovision. Marty Whelan provided commentary of the contest for Ireland on RTÉ.

Artist Title 1st Round Place 2nd Round Place
Johnny Logan "Hold Me Now" 182 3 262 3
Johnny Logan "What's Another Year?" 74 12
Did Not Advance

Voting history[edit]

Ireland benefits from "neighbourly" voting from the United Kingdom. Before the introduction of televoting Irish juries tended to award the United Kingdom more or less the same number of points as other countries did. Since the advent of televoting both countries have given above average points to each other; usually 8 points. In recent years Ireland has also voted for countries where a large diaspora now live in Ireland, such as Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.[citation needed] In 2008, before the return of the national juries to lessen the impact of diaspora voting, Ireland gave 8 points to the UK, 10 to Poland and 12 to Latvia.

Statistically, Ireland is the fourteenth best country at predicting a winner, giving an average of 8.41 points to the winning country every year over its 25 appearances since the current voting methods were implemented. Only twice (Turkey in 2003 and Azerbaijan in 2011) did Ireland fail to give any votes to the winning country.[7]

As of 2013, Ireland's voting history is as follows:

Statistically, Ireland is the 11th-best country at predicting the winner of the contest. Out of 31 occasions since the current voting system was adopted in 1975 (and excluding the years in which Ireland itself was the winner, since countries cannot vote for themselves), Ireland has awarded an average of 8.4 points to the winning song. Ireland has given its "12 points" to the winning song 11 times (1979, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1997, 2000, 2012 and 2013). Only twice, in 2003 and 2011, did Ireland fail to award any points to the winning song.

12 Points[edit]

Table key

     Winner – Ireland gave 12 points to a winning song / Ireland won the contest in that year.
     Second place – Ireland gave 12 points to a runner-up song / Ireland was the runner-up in the contest in that year.
     Third place – Ireland gave 12 points to a third place song / Ireland came third in the contest that year.
     Qualified – Ireland gave 12 points to a song that qualified to the Grand Finals / Ireland qualified to the Grand Finals that year.
     Non-qualified – Ireland gave 12 points to a song that did not qualify to the Grand Finals / Ireland did not qualify for the Grand Finals that year.
Year Given Received
Final Semi Final Semi
1975  France No semi-finals  Belgium No semi-finals
1976  Italy  Italy
1977  Finland  Israel
 United Kingdom
1978  Belgium  Norway
1979  Israel
1980   Switzerland  Belgium
 United Kingdom
1981   Switzerland  Cyprus
1982  Germany
1983 Did not Participate Did not Participate
1984  Sweden  Belgium
1985  Norway  Italy
1986  Belgium  Austria
1987  Italy  Austria
 United Kingdom
1988  Luxembourg  Spain
1989  Yugoslavia
1990  Italy  Austria
1991  Malta
1992  Austria  Greece
1993  Netherlands None1  Italy
 United Kingdom
Did not Participate
1994  Hungary No semi-finals  Croatia
No semi-finals
1995  Sweden
1996  Sweden Unknown2  Bosnia and Herzegovina
1997  United Kingdom No semi-finals  United Kingdom No semi-finals
1998  Malta  Lithuania
1999  Slovenia
2000  Denmark
2001  Denmark
2002 Regelated Regelated
2003  Norway  United Kingdom
2004  Sweden  Netherlands
Did not Participate
2005  Latvia  Denmark Did not Qualify  United Kingdom
2006  Lithuania  Lithuania
2007  Lithuania  Latvia
Did not Participate
2008  Latvia  Poland Did not Qualify
2009  Iceland  Lithuania Did not Qualify
2010  Denmark  Lithuania
2011  Denmark  Denmark  Denmark
 United Kingdom
2012  Sweden  Romania
 San Marino
2013  Denmark  Denmark

1 Ireland was illegible to vote at the 1993 pre-qualifying round, as voting was restricted to countries taking part in the pre-qualifying round.

2 The voting for the 1996 pre-qualifying round is unknown to date.


Ireland is the only country to have hosted multiple Contests in succession; three in a row between 1993 and 1995. Six of the seven Contests held in Ireland have been held in Dublin; three at the Point Depot, two at the RDS and one at the Gaiety Theatre. In addition, the 1993 Contest was held in Millstreet, County Cork. During the 1994 contest, the dancing group Riverdance made their debut as an interval act.

Year Location Venue Presenters
1971 Republic of Ireland Dublin Gaiety Theatre Bernadette Ní Ghallchóir
1981 RDS Simmonscourt Doireann Ní Bhriain
1988 Michelle Rocca and Pat Kenny
1993 Republic of Ireland Millstreet Green Glens Arena Fionnuala Sweeney
1994 Republic of Ireland Dublin Point Depot Cynthia Ní Mhurchú and Gerry Ryan
1995 Mary Kennedy
1997 Carrie Crowley and Ronan Keating

Marcel Bezençon Awards[edit]

Artistic Award (Voted by commentators)

Year Performer Song Final Result Points Host city
2011 Jedward "Lipstick" 8th 119 Düsseldorf

Commentators and spokespersons[edit]

Over the years RTÉ commentary has been provided by several experienced radio and television presenters, including Larry Gogan, Jimmy Greeley, Gay Byrne, Ronan Collins, Pat Kenny and Mike Murphy. However Marty Whelan has provided the RTÉ Television commentary since 2000 although Whelan himself had previously commentated for the 1987 event. Ireland did not participate in the 1983 edition in Germany, nor did they send a commentator to Munich that year, but instead broadcast the BBC feed of the contest with Terry Wogan as commentator, who welcomed viewers in Ireland during his introduction. RTÉ Radio, however, did provide commentary by Brendan Balfe.

Year(s) Television commentator Radio commentator Spokesperson
1965 Bunny Carr Kevin Roche Frank Hall
1966 Brendan O'Reilly
1967 Gay Byrne
1969 Gay Byrne John Skehan
1970 Valerie McGovern
1971 Noel Andrews N/A
1972 Mike Murphy Kevin Roche & Liam Devally
1973 Liam Devally
1974 Brendan Balfe
1978 Larry Gogan John Skehan
1979 Mike Murphy David Heffernan
1980 Larry Gogan Pat Kenny
1981 John Skehan
1983 Terry Wogan (via BBC) Brendan Balfe Ireland did not participate
1984 Gay Byrne Larry Gogan John Skehan
1985 Linda Martin
1986 Brendan Balfe
1987 Marty Whelan
1988 Mike Murphy
1989 Ronan Collins & Michelle Rocca Eileen Dunne
1990 Jimmy Greeley & Clíona Ní Bhuachalla
1991 Pat Kenny
1999 Clare McNamara
2000 Marty Whelan Derek Mooney
2001 Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh
2002 No radio commentary Ireland did not participate
2003 Marty Whelan & Phil Coulter Pamela Flood
2004 Marty Whelan Johnny Logan
2005 Dana
2006 Eimear Quinn
2007 Linda Martin
2008 Larry Gogan Niamh Kavanagh
2009 Maxi Derek Mooney
2011 Shay Byrne and Zbyszek Zalinski
2012 Gráinne Seoige
2013 Nicky Byrne



  1. ^ RTÉ:Eurovision. RTÉ.ie. Retrieved on 5 September 2007.
  2. ^ Millstreet. Retrieved on 5 September 2007.
  3. ^ "Ireland dumped out of Eurovision". BBC. 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  4. ^ Diggiloo Thrush - Ireland
  5. ^ #2 BBC
  6. ^ "Marty and the 'cool' Irish". Irish Independent. 2006-05-23. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  7. ^ Statistics compiled and available here (scroll approximately halfway down the page).

External links[edit]