Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest

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Republic of Ireland
Member stationRTÉ
National selection events
National Final
  • National Song Contest
  • 1965–1982
  • 1984–1986
  • Eurosong
  • 1987–2001
  • 2006–2007 (song, as part of The Late Late Show)
  • 2008
  • 2009–2015 (as part of The Late Late Show)
  • You're a Star
  • 2003–2005
  • The Late Late Show
  • 2022
Internal Selection
  • 2006–2007 (artist)
  • 2016–2021
Participation summary
Appearances54 (45 finals)
First appearance1965
Best result1st: 1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996
External links
RTÉ page
Ireland's page at
Song contest current event.png For the most recent participation see
Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2021

Ireland has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 54 times since making its debut at the 1965 contest in Naples, missing only two contests since then (1983 and 2002). The contest final is broadcast in Ireland on RTÉ One. Ireland has a record total of seven wins, and is the only country to have won three times consecutively.

Ireland's seven wins were achieved by Dana with "All Kinds of Everything" (1970), Johnny Logan with "What's Another Year" (1980) and "Hold Me Now" (1987), Linda Martin with "Why Me" (1992), Niamh Kavanagh with "In Your Eyes" (1993), Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan with "Rock 'n' Roll Kids" (1994) and Eimear Quinn with "The Voice" (1996). Johnny Logan is the only performer to have won twice and also wrote the 1992 winning entry. Ireland, who also finished second with Sean Dunphy (1967), Linda Martin (1984), Liam Reilly (1990) and Marc Roberts (1997), has a total of 18 top five results.

Since the introduction of the semi-final round in 2004, Ireland has failed to reach the final nine times, and has twice finished last in the final, in 2007 and 2013. Ireland's only top 10 result in the last 14 contests (2007–21) is Jedward's eighth-place in 2011.


Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) is Ireland's representative broadcaster at the contest. The semi-finals are broadcast on RTÉ2, with the final on RTÉ One.[1]

Ireland has sent 50 entries to the Eurovision Song Contest; of these, seven have won and eighteen have finished in the top five, making Ireland the most successful country in the contest overall as of 2021. Since its debut in 1965, the country has missed only two contests: the 1983 contest in Munich and the 2002 contest in Tallinn. A strike at RTÉ in 1983 meant that the station lacked the resources to send a participant, so RTÉ broadcast the contest with the BBC commentary feed. Ireland was relegated in 2002, but in keeping with EBU rules since they intended to return in 2003, RTÉ broadcast that year's event and a TV commentator was sent to the contest in Tallinn. Ireland have hosted the contest on seven occasions; all were held in the Irish capital Dublin except for the 1993 contest, which was staged in Millstreet, a town in north-west County Cork with a population of 1,500 people.[2] All of Ireland's entries have been performed in English with the exception of the 1972 entry, "Ceol an Ghrá", which was sung in Irish.

Seán Dunphy finished second at the 1967 contest, behind Sandie Shaw, followed by Pat McGeegan finishing fourth in 1968, before Dana gave Ireland its first victory in 1970 with "All Kinds of Everything". The country's next best result of the 1970s was in 1977, when The Swarbriggs Plus Two finished third. This was followed by fifth-place finishes for both Colm C.T. Wilkinson (1978) and Cathal Dunne (1979).

Johnny Logan won Eurovision for Ireland as a solo singer on two occasions – in 1980 and 1987 – and composed the winning entry for Linda Martin in 1992.

Johnny Logan brought Ireland its second victory in 1980 with "What's Another Year". Girl Group Sheeba then finished fifth in 1981. Logan went on to write the 1984 entry "Terminal 3", performed by Linda Martin, which finished second. In 1987, Logan returned to the context as a performer, and became the first and (to date) only entrant to win the contest twice, achieving his second victory with the self-penned "Hold Me Now".

Ireland's most successful decade to date in the contest is the 1990s, beginning with Liam Reilly finishing joint second in 1990. Ireland subsequently achieved an unequalled three consecutive victories in the contest: in 1992, the 1984 runner-up Linda Martin returned to win with "Why Me?" – penned once again by Johnny Logan, giving him a total of three victories as either a performer or writer; in 1993, Niamh Kavanagh was victorious over the United Kingdom's Sonia with "In Your Eyes"; and in 1994, Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan won with "Rock 'n' Roll Kids". The decade would see yet another victory in 1996 when Eimear Quinn won with "The Voice"; Marc Roberts would also finish second for Ireland in 1997.

In the 21st century, Ireland has fared less well, achieving considerably poorer results in comparison to the 1990s. The country's only top 10 placement of the 2000s came when Brian Kennedy finished tenth in 2006. At the 2007 contest, Ireland's representatives were Irish folk group Dervish performing "They Can't Stop The Spring"; having automatically qualified for the final, the group finished last with five points (all from Albania), becoming the first Irish entrants to come last in a final. In 2008, Dustin the Turkey failed to qualify for the final with his song "Irelande Douze Pointe"; the same fate befell Sinéad Mulvey and Black Daisy in 2009.[3]

In 2011, Ireland's luck changed when X Factor finalists Jedward finished in eighth place with 119 points, thus making them Ireland's most successful entry in 10 years. Their song "Lipstick" topped the iTunes charts in Austria, Germany, Ireland and Sweden. Jedward represented Ireland again in 2012 with "Waterline", but after making it through to the final, they were awarded only 46 points, finishing in 19th place. In 2013, Ireland came last in the final for the second time.

In 2018, Ireland qualified for the final for the first time since 2013 with Ryan O'Shaughnessy and "Together", but in 2019, Sarah McTernan finished last in the second semi-final with "22". Since her song received fewer points than the worst-scoring song of the first semi-final, it therefore came last overall, making it the worst Eurovision placing for Ireland to date.

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]

In the years when the live orchestra was present in the contest, almost all of Ireland's Eurovision entries were conducted by Noel Kelehan. The exceptions were 1965 (Italian host conductor Gianni Ferrio), 1970 (Dutch host conductor Dolf van der Linden), from 1972 to 1975 (Colman Pearce), 1979 (Proinnsias Ó Duinn), 1994 (no conductor, although Kelehan conducted three other entries from Romania, Greece and Poland) and in 1997 (Frank McNamara was the musical director for the contest staged in Dublin, but the Irish entry was played with a backing track with no orchestra).

Ronan Keating (who presented the 1997 contest) 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, meaning four victories were achieved in five years.

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 52 appearances and 45 finals, Ireland has reached the top ten 31 times and the top five 18 times. As of 2019, Ireland has not reached the top five since 1997.

Ireland holds the record for most points from one country in a year (alongside France) in the 'one point per juror' voting system, achieving nine votes out of a possible ten from Belgium (in 1970). France had achieved this same feat in 1958.

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

During the first semi-final of the 2014 contest, it was revealed that the duo, Jedward, hold two Eurovision records: the highest hair (18.9 cm) and the biggest shoulder pads.

Participation overview[edit]

Table key
Second place
Third place
Last place
Entry selected but did not compete
Year Entrant Song Language Final Points Semi Points
Butch Moore "Walking the Streets in the Rain" English 6 11 No semi-finals
Dickie Rock "Come Back to Stay" English 4 14
Sean Dunphy "If I Could Choose" English 2 22
Pat McGeegan "Chance of a Lifetime" English 4 18
Muriel Day "The Wages of Love" English 7 10
Dana "All Kinds of Everything" English 1 32
Angela Farrell "One Day Love" English 11 79
Sandie Jones "Ceol an Ghrá" Irish 15 72
Maxi "Do I Dream" English 10 80
Tina Reynolds "Cross Your Heart" English 7 11
The Swarbriggs "That's What Friends Are For" English 9 68
Red Hurley "When" English 10 54
The Swarbriggs Plus Two "It's Nice To Be In Love Again" English 3 119
Colm C.T. Wilkinson "Born to Sing" English 5 86
Cathal Dunne "Happy Man" English 5 80
Johnny Logan "What's Another Year?" English 1 143
Sheeba "Horoscopes" English 5 105
The Duskeys "Here Today Gone Tomorrow" English 11 49
Linda Martin "Terminal 3" English 2 137
Maria Christian "Wait Until the Weekend Comes" English 6 91
Luv Bug "You Can Count On Me" English 4 96
Johnny Logan "Hold Me Now" English 1 172
Jump the Gun "Take Him Home" English 8 79
Kiev Connolly & The Missing Passengers "The Real Me" English 18 21
Liam Reilly "Somewhere in Europe" English 2 132
Kim Jackson "Could It Be That I'm In Love" English 10 47
Linda Martin "Why Me?" English 1 155
Niamh Kavanagh "In Your Eyes" English 1 187 Kvalifikacija za Millstreet
Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan "Rock 'n' Roll Kids" English 1 226 No semi-finals
Eddie Friel "Dreamin'" English 14 44
Eimear Quinn "The Voice" English 1 162 2 198
Marc Roberts "Mysterious Woman" English 2 157 No semi-finals
Dawn Martin "Is Always Over Now?" English 9 64
The Mullans "When You Need Me" English 17 18
Eamonn Toal "Millennium of Love" English 6 92
Gary O'Shaughnessy "Without Your Love" English 21 6
Mickey Harte "We've Got the World" English 11 53
Chris Doran "If My World Stopped Turning" English 22 7 Top 11 previous year[a]
Donna and Joe "Love?" English Failed to qualify 14 53
Brian Kennedy "Every Song Is a Cry for Love" English 10 93 9 79
Dervish "They Can't Stop the Spring" English 24 ◁ 5 Top 10 previous year[a]
Dustin the Turkey "Irelande Douze Pointe" English Failed to qualify 15 22
Sinéad Mulvey & Black Daisy "Et Cetera" English 11 52
Niamh Kavanagh "It's for You" English 23 25 9 67
Jedward "Lipstick" English 8 119 8 68
Jedward "Waterline" English 19 46 6 92
Ryan Dolan "Only Love Survives" English 26 ◁ 5 8 54
Can-Linn feat. Kasey Smith "Heartbeat" English Failed to qualify 12 35
Molly Sterling "Playing with Numbers" English 12 35
Nicky Byrne "Sunlight" English 15 46
Brendan Murray "Dying to Try" English 13 86
Ryan O'Shaughnessy "Together" English 16 136 6 179
Sarah McTernan "22" English Failed to qualify 18 ◁ 16
Lesley Roy "Story of My Life" English Contest cancelled[b] X
Lesley Roy "Maps" English Failed to qualify 16 ◁ 20
Confirmed intention to participate [7]

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

Ireland was one of two countries to have two entries entered into Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest, with the 1980 entry "What's Another Year?" and the 1987 "Hold Me Now". Co-host of the 1997 contest Ronan Keating appeared. Johnny Logan performed his 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. Marty Whelan provided commentary of the contest for Ireland on RTÉ.

Entrant Language Song At Congratulations At Eurovision
Final Points Semi Points Year Place Points
Johnny Logan English "What's Another Year?" Failed to qualify 12 74 1980 1 143
Johnny Logan English "Hold Me Now" 3 262 3 182 1987 1 172


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 Theatre, 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. Dublin holds the record for hosting the most Contests.

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


Marcel Bezençon Awards[edit]

Year Category Performer Song Final Points Host city Ref.
2011 Artistic Award[c] Jedward "Lipstick" 8 119 Germany Düsseldorf

Related involvement[edit]


Year Conductor[d] Musical Director Notes Ref.
1965 Italy Gianni Ferrio N/A Host conductor[e] [9]
1966 Noel Kelehan
1970 Netherlands Dolf van der Linden Host conductor[f] [10]
1971 Noel Kelehan Colman Pearce
1972 Colman Pearce N/A
1976 Noel Kelehan
1979 Pronnsías Ó Duinn [g]
1980 Noel Kelehan [11]
1981 Noel Kelehan
1982 Noel Kelehan N/A
1988 Noel Kelehan
1989 Noel Kelehan N/A
1993 Noel Kelehan [h]
1994 No conductor Noel Kelehan [i]
1995 Noel Kelehan [j]
1996 Noel Kelehan N/A
1997 No conductor Frank McNamara [k]
1998 Noel Kelehan N/A [l]

Heads of delegation[edit]

Year Head of delegation Refs.
2008 Michael Kealy
2009–2012 Julian Vignoles
2013–present Michael Kealy

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 Television commentator Radio commentator Spokesperson Ref.
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 No spokesperson
1972 Mike Murphy Kevin Roche and 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 Did not participate
1984 Gay Byrne Larry Gogan John Skehan
1985 Linda Martin
1986 Brendan Balfe[16]
1987 Marty Whelan Brendan Balfe
1988 Mike Murphy John Skehan
1989 Ronan Collins and Michelle Rocca Eileen Dunne
1990 Jimmy Greeley and Clíona Ní Bhuachalla
1991 Pat Kenny
1999 Clare McNamara
2000 Marty Whelan Derek Mooney
2001 Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh
2002 No radio commentary Did not participate
2003 Marty Whelan and 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
2016 Neil Doherty and Zbyszek Zalinski Sinéad Kennedy
2017 Nicky Byrne
2019 Sinéad Kennedy
2021 Ryan O'Shaughnessy [17]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b According to the then-Eurovision rules, the top ten non-Big Four countries from the previous year along with the Big Four automatically qualified for the Grand Final without having to compete in semi-finals. For example, if Germany and France placed inside the top ten, the 11th and 12th spots were advanced to next year's Grand Final along with all countries ranked in the top ten.
  2. ^ The 2020 contest was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. ^ Voted by commentators.
  4. ^ All conductors are of Irish nationality unless otherwise noted.
  5. ^ Conducted by Noel Kelehan at the national final.
  6. ^ Conducted by Noel Kelehan at the national final.
  7. ^ Conducted by Noel Kelehan at the national final.
  8. ^ Kelehan also conducted the Bosnian entry.
  9. ^ Irish commentator Pat Kenny and British commentator Terry Wogan both erroneously credit Kelehan as the conductor of the Irish entry. The song was performed without orchestral accompaniment. Kelehan did, however, conduct the Greek, Polish, and Romanian entries.
  10. ^ Kelehan also conducted the Polish entry. The interval act, "Lumen," was conducted by Proinnsías Ó Duinn.
  11. ^ That year's Irish national final was presented with a smaller band.
  12. ^ That year's Irish national final was presented without an orchestra.


  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. ^ Farren, Neil (2021-11-18). "🇮🇪 Ireland: Eurovision 2022 Selection on January 21?". Eurovoix. Retrieved 2021-11-18.
  8. ^ "Winners of the Marcel Bezençon Awards". 16 May 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  9. ^ Roxburgh, Gordon (2012). Songs for Europe: The United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest. Volume One: The 1950s and 1960s. Prestatyn: Telos Publishing. pp. 93–101. ISBN 978-1-84583-065-6. |volume= has extra text (help)
  10. ^ Roxburgh, Gordon (2014). Songs for Europe: The United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest. Volume Two: The 1970s. Prestatyn: Telos Publishing. pp. 142–168. ISBN 978-1-84583-093-9. |volume= has extra text (help)
  11. ^ Roxburgh, Gordon (2016). Songs for Europe: The United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest. Volume Three: The 1980s. Prestatyn: Telos Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84583-118-9. |volume= has extra text (help)
  12. ^ a b Lucas, John (2016-04-12). "The HoD Spotlight: In Conversation with Ireland's Michael Kealy". ESCInsight. Retrieved 2021-11-16.
  13. ^ a b Padraig, Mulligan (2018-03-19). "Interview: Ireland's Head of Delegation hopes to keep new selection process and has no plans to quit". Wiwibloggs. Retrieved 2021-11-16.
  14. ^ "Et Cetera - new key to success for Ireland?". EBU. 2009-05-05. Retrieved 2021-11-16.
  15. ^ "Eurovision Ireland Meets Julian Vignoles (Head of Delegation) – We Talk Eurovision and Jedward". Eurovision Ireland. 2012-05-03. Retrieved 2021-11-16.
  16. ^ "RTÉ Archives". Stills Library. Retrieved 2021-06-05.
  17. ^ "Lesley Roy in flag-flying form ahead of Eurovision semi-final tonight". 2021-05-18. Retrieved 2021-05-18.

External links[edit]