Dolan's Travellers Rest service station in Strabane may be quieter than usual this week, because much of the extended family that owns and runs it will be here in Sweden to cheer on youngest son, Ryan Dolan, as he represents Ireland in this year's Eurovision Song Contest. Even the parish priest, Fr Declan Boland, is making the trip. "He's a good friend of the family. He married all my brothers and sisters," says Dolan (27).
Some friends and family are only coming over for Saturday’s final, which Dolan believes is “counting chickens a bit”; however, Eurovision pollsters, fans and journalists agree that Ireland is all but a shoo-in to qualify in tomorrow’s semi-final.
Dolan is from a musical family but he only sang for the first time in public four years ago. "Before then I only sang at home to the karaoke, when no one else was around," he says.
He made his first recording, a CD of cover songs, in the Donegal studio of writer/producer Wez Devine, a family friend, and promoted the recordings on YouTube and through social media.
Devine and Dolan started writing songs together two years ago; their Eurovision tune, Only Love Survives , was not originally intended for the contest.
“It was more of a hard dance number before,” says Dolan, “so we had to adapt it to make it more Eurovisiony.”
Dolan's first Eurovision memories are of Ireland's run of success in the 1990s, when the country won four times out of five contests.
“There was a massive buzz in the country,” he recalls. “Jedward helped get some of that buzz back, for the kids in Ireland.”
Dolan entertained journalists and fans last week at a press conference with an a cappella version of his favourite Eurovision song, Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan's 1994 winner Rock and Roll Kids . His favourites in this year's Eurovision are the songs by Sweden, Russia, Norway and Austria.
This weekend he visited a local GAA team with the Austrian singer, Natalia Kelly, did a meet-and-greet with the hotly tipped Danish performer, Emelie de Forest, and walked down the red carpet at the contest’s opening ceremonies at Malmö Opera.