Ireland fails to qualify for Eurovision final

Bearded Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst tipped to win Saturday’s final

Ireland faces a bearded lady, solo artists, duets and boy bands at the dress rehearsals ahead of the second Eurovision Song Contest semi-final to be held this evening. Video: Reuters


Ireland has failed to qualify for the Eurovison Song Contest for the first time since 2009. Kasey Smith and the Irish traditional group Can-Linn, performing “Heartbeat” was not one of the ten acts chosen from 15 competitors to advance to Saturday’s final.

“We were delighted we got to represent our country on a world stage,” Smith said after the results were announced. “Being in the final would have been a bonus but you can just never predict how these things are going to go. We put our heart and soul into it and gave it our all. It’s given me a real taste for being on the stage and as far as I’m concerned, this is only the beginning for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.”

Michael Kealy, head of RTÉ’s Eurovision delegation, said that the broadcaster was “devastated for them, considering all the work that went in. Eurovision is so unpredictable. Kasey is a real up and coming talent, as are the rest of the group, and I have no doubt they’ll do well. I’m so proud of them all. They couldn’t have given any more.”

Given poor results two years in a row - last year Ryan Dolan singing “Only Love Survives” made it to the final but ended up placing last - it seems clear that RTÉ needs to review its approach to the Eurovision competition.

Qualifiers included the hotly tipped bearded drag queen from Austria, Conchita Wurst, singing “Rise like a Phoenix”; the buxom butter-churning singers for Poland with “My Slowanie”; a buoyant rap number from Greece, “Rise Up”; Norway’s heartfelt ballad “Silent Storm”; and acts from Switzerland, Slovenia, Romania, Malta, Belarus, and Finland.

Ireland’s act was a contemporary pop number styled in a Celtic vein: Smith wore a gold encrusted dress and gold neckpiece evoking Game of Thrones, and the act also features fiddle and bodhrán playing and Irish dancing.

The much-talked about Austrian act received a huge ovation in the press centre when the results were announced, and was also a particular favourite in the hall, along with Greece and Poland.

Over 10,000 spectators enjoyed the spectacular production in the Eurovision arena. The interval act included a live montage of ordinary citizens from across Europe of various ages doing hip hop dance; the first to perform was eight-year-old Megan Geoghegan from Bray, Co Wicklow.

25 finalists will compete in Saturday night’s final.

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