Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest

Ireland has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 53 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 is the most successful country in the contest, with a record total of seven wins, and is the only country to have won three times consecutively.

Member stationRTÉ
National selection events
Participation summary
Appearances53 (45 finals)
First appearance1965
Best result1st: 1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996
Worst resultLast: 2007, 2013, 2019 SF
External links
RTÉ page
Ireland's page at
For the most recent participation see
Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2020

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 semifinal round in 2004, Ireland has failed to reach the final seven times, and has twice finished last in the final, in 2007 and 2013. Ireland's only top 10 result in the last 13 contests (2007–19) is Jedward's eighth-place in 2011.


Since its debut in 1965, Ireland has missed only two contests, in 1983 in Munich and 2002 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. In keeping with EBU rules, RTÉ broadcast that years event as they intended to return in 2003, and a TV commentator was sent to the contest in Tallinn. Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) is Ireland's representative broadcaster at the contest, the semi-finals are broadcast on RTÉ2 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. Ireland have hosted the contest on seven occasions, 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]

Seán Dunphy finished second at the 1967 contest, behind Sandie Shaw, and Pat McGeegan finished fourth in 1968, before Dana gave Ireland its first victory in 1970, performing "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 gave Ireland a second victory in 1980, with "What's Another Year". Girl Group Sheeba finished fifth in 1981. Logan then wrote the 1984 entry "Terminal 3", which finished second, performed by Linda Martin. In 1987, Logan became the first and (as of the present day) only performer to win the contest twice, when he won with the self-penned "Hold Me Now". Ireland's most successful decade to date in the contest is the 1990s, which began with Liam Reilly finishing joint second in 1990. Ireland then achieved an unequalled three consecutive victories in the contest. In 1992, 1984 runner-up Linda Martin returned to win with another Johnny Logan composition, "Why Me?". This was followed up by Niamh Kavanagh's victory over Sonia in 1993 with "In Your Eyes" and Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan winning in 1994 with "Rock 'n' Roll Kids". The decade saw yet another victory in 1996 when Eimear Quinn won with "The Voice". Ireland also finished second in 1997 with Marc Roberts.

In the 21st century, Ireland has fared less well, only reaching the top 10 on two occasions, with Brian Kennedy tenth in 2006 and Jedward eighth in 2011. Ireland finished last in the final for the first time in 2007, which happened again in 2013. Since the introduction of the semi-final round in 2004, Ireland has failed to reach the final eight times, in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019. In 2018, Ireland qualified for the first time since 2013 with Ryan O'Shaughnessy and "Together".

Ireland has sent 50 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. In 2019 Sarah McTernan finished last in the second semi final with the song 22. Since her song received fewer points than the last place finisher of the first semi final, her song came in last place over all, making it the worst Eurovision performance 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 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, 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 Eurovision Song Contest, it was revealed that the duo, Jedward, hold two Eurovision records: the highest hair (18.9 cm) and the biggest shoulder pads.


Table key
Second place
Third place
Last place
Year Artist Language Title Final Points Semi Points
1965 Butch Moore English "Walking the Streets in the Rain" 6 11 No semi-finals
1966 Dickie Rock English "Come Back to Stay" 4 14
1967 Sean Dunphy English "If I Could Choose" 2 22
1968 Pat McGeegan English "Chance of a Lifetime" 4 18
1969 Muriel Day English "The Wages of Love" 7 10
1970 Dana English "All Kinds of Everything" 1 32
1971 Angela Farrell English "One Day Love" 11 79
1972 Sandie Jones Irish "Ceol an Ghrá" 15 72
1973 Maxi English "Do I Dream" 10 80
1974 Tina Reynolds English "Cross Your Heart" 7 11
1975 The Swarbriggs English "That's What Friends Are For" 9 68
1976 Red Hurley English "When" 10 54
1977 The Swarbriggs Plus Two English "It's Nice To Be In Love Again" 3 119
1978 Colm C.T. Wilkinson English "Born to Sing" 5 86
1979 Cathal Dunne English "Happy Man" 5 80
1980 Johnny Logan English "What's Another Year?" 1 143
1981 Sheeba English "Horoscopes" 5 105
1982 The Duskeys English "Here Today Gone Tomorrow" 11 49
1983 Did not participate
1984 Linda Martin English "Terminal 3" 2 137 No semi-finals
1985 Maria Christian English "Wait Until the Weekend Comes" 6 91
1986 Luv Bug English "You Can Count On Me" 4 96
1987 Johnny Logan English "Hold Me Now" 1 172
1988 Jump the Gun English "Take Him Home" 8 79
1989 Kiev Connolly & The Missing Passengers English "The Real Me" 18 21
1990 Liam Reilly English "Somewhere in Europe" 2 132
1991 Kim Jackson English "Could It Be That I'm In Love" 10 47
1992 Linda Martin English "Why Me?" 1 155
1993 Niamh Kavanagh English "In Your Eyes" 1 187
1994 Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan English "Rock 'n' Roll Kids" 1 226
1995 Eddie Friel English "Dreamin'" 14 44
1996 Eimear Quinn English "The Voice" 1 162 2 198
1997 Marc Roberts English "Mysterious Woman" 2 157 No semi-finals
1998 Dawn Martin English "Is Always Over Now?" 9 64
1999 The Mullans English "When You Need Me" 17 18
2000 Eamonn Toal English "Millennium of Love" 6 92
2001 Gary O'Shaughnessy English "Without Your Love" 21 6
2002 Did not participate
2003 Mickey Harte English "We've Got the World" 11 53 No semi-finals
2004 Chris Doran English "If My World Stopped Turning" 22 7 Top 11 Previous Year[lower-alpha 1]
2005 Donna and Joe English "Love?" Failed to qualify 14 53
2006 Brian Kennedy English "Every Song Is a Cry for Love" 10 93 9 79
2007 Dervish English "They Can't Stop the Spring" 24 5 Top 10 Previous Year[lower-alpha 1]
2008 Dustin the Turkey English "Irelande Douze Pointe" Failed to qualify 15 22
2009 Sinéad Mulvey & Black Daisy English "Et Cetera" 11 52
2010 Niamh Kavanagh English "It's for You" 23 25 9 67
2011 Jedward English "Lipstick" 8 119 8 68
2012 Jedward English "Waterline" 19 46 6 92
2013 Ryan Dolan English "Only Love Survives" 26 5 8 54
2014 Can-Linn feat. Kasey Smith English "Heartbeat" Failed to qualify 12 35
2015 Molly Sterling English "Playing with Numbers" 12 35
2016 Nicky Byrne English "Sunlight" 15 46
2017 Brendan Murray English "Dying to Try" 13 86
2018 Ryan O'Shaughnessy English "Together" 16 136 6 179
2019 Sarah McTernan English "22" Failed to qualify 18 16

Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest

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.

Artist Language Title 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.

Year Location Venue Presenters
1971 DublinGaiety TheatreBernadette Ní Ghallchóir
1981 RDS SimmonscourtDoireann Ní Bhriain
1988 Michelle Rocca and Pat Kenny
1993 MillstreetGreen Glens ArenaFionnuala Sweeney
1994 DublinPoint TheatreCynthia Ní Mhurchú and Gerry Ryan
1995 Mary Kennedy
1997 Carrie Crowley and Ronan Keating


Marcel Bezençon Awards

Year Category Performer Song Final Points Host city Ref.
2011 Artistic Award[lower-alpha 2] Jedward "Lipstick" 8 119 Düsseldorf

Commentators and spokespersons

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 Spokesperson Background
1965Bunny CarrKevin RocheFrank HallSpokesperson did not present visually until 1994
1966Brendan O'Reilly
1967Gay Byrne
1969Gay ByrneJohn Skehan
1970Valerie McGovern
1971Noel AndrewsN/A
1972Mike MurphyKevin Roche & Liam Devally
1973Liam Devally
1974Brendan Balfe
1978Larry GoganJohn Skehan
1979Mike MurphyDavid Heffernan
1980Larry GoganPat Kenny
1981John Skehan
1983Terry Wogan (via BBC)Brendan BalfeIreland did not participate
1984Gay ByrneLarry GoganJohn Skehan
1985Linda Martin
1986Brendan Balfe
1987Marty Whelan
1988Mike Murphy
1989Ronan Collins & Michelle RoccaEileen Dunne
1990Jimmy Greeley & Clíona Ní Bhuachalla
1991Pat Kenny
1994RTÉ Studios, Dublin
1995Dublin Skyline
1996RTÉ Studios, Dublin
1999Clare McNamara
2000Marty WhelanDerek MooneyThe Custom House, Dublin
2001Bláthnaid Ní ChofaighSmithfield Square, Dublin
2002No radio commentaryIreland did not participateIreland did not participate
2003Marty Whelan & Phil CoulterPamela FloodO'Connell Street, Dublin
2004Marty WhelanJohnny LoganThe Custom House, Dublin
2005DanaCollege Green, Dublin
2006Eimear QuinnLiffey, Dublin
2007Linda MartinThe Custom House, Dublin
2008Larry GoganNiamh KavanaghO'Connell Street, Dublin
2009MaxiDerek MooneyHa'penny Bridge, Dublin
2010Grand Canal Dock, Dublin
2011Shay Byrne and Zbyszek ZalinskiSouth Anne Street, Dublin
2012Gráinne SeoigeConvention Centre, Dublin
2013Nicky ByrneGrand Canal Dock, Dublin
2014Dublin Bay, Dublin
2016Neil Doherty and Zbyszek ZalinskiSinéad Kennedy
2017Nicky ByrneConvention Centre, Dublin
2019Sinéad Kennedy


All conductors are Irish except those with a flag.

The Irish entry was performed without orchestral accompaniment in 1994 and 1997.[8]


See also


  1. 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. Voted by commentators.


  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. "Winners of the Marcel Bezençon Awards". 16 May 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
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