Ireland’s Eurovision revealed: another twentysomething with a high-pitched voice

Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s song ‘Together’ will hope to break an abysmal run in the competition

Singer-songwriter Ryan O’Shaughnessy has been announced as Ireland’s entry at the Eurovision this May

Singer-songwriter Ryan O’Shaughnessy has been announced as Ireland’s entry at the Eurovision this May

 

Reality TV survivor Ryan O’Shaughnessy is the latest performer who will attempt to end Ireland’s miserable run at the Eurovision.

Singer-songwriter O’Shaughnessy (27) will perform Together, a song he wrote with collaborators Mark Caplice and Laura Elizabeth Hughes, at the Eurovision semi-final in Lisbon this May.

Ireland hasn’t won since 1996, but even qualifying for the final has been beyond entrants for the last four years.

O’Shaughnessy can hardly do worse than last year’s entry. Brendan Murray’s Dying to Try died a death and finished 13th out of 18 songs in the semi-final. O’Shaughnessy is not unlike Murray in being a twenty-something troubadour with a high pitched voice.

Will Together be the triumph of hope over experience? Expectations could hardly be lower for any Irish entrant.

He believes Together will be a song that buck the trend. “It’s an honour to represent Ireland, but it’s an even greater honour to be the writer of the song as well,” he said. “It’s a win-win for me. To have the opportunity to do this is colossal.”

He found out a month ago that the song had been chosen, but the performer had yet to be decided. Having co-written the song, he felt he was the person who could perform it best.

“There are usually a number of performers, but because I sang on the demo, it would be hard to listen to someone else performing it.”

The Nucleus

The song was one of 300 submitted to RTÉ for consideration before a November deadline. It was written in The Nucleus, based on South William Street, Dublin, a songwriting hub founded by Hamlet Sweeney that brings the international model of collaborative songwriting to Ireland.

“Our problem has been following trends in the past and getting on the gimmick train,” he said. “The Portuguese song that won last year is a beautiful song which is well performed and very simple.

“The Eurovision has come full circle. People are starting to actually listening to the song and judge the performance more than the theatrics.

He describes Together as a ballad about love and togetherness. “It’s got a bit of a gospel feel to it. It’s an uplifting song. It’s got a good structure to it. It is something that we haven’t done in the last couple of years.

“Rock and Roll Kids [which won the Eurovision in 1994], was an honest song. I feel the honesty in Together will be its best attribute.”

O’Shaughnessy, who grew up in Skerries, Co Dublin has been in showbusiness almost all his life, joining the Billie Barry stage school when he was four. From the age of eight to 17 he played Mark Halpin in RTÉ’s Fair City before switching to music.

He came to public attention in 2012 on Britain’s Got Talent when he sang his own song No Name, a song of unrequited love dedicated to a girl who went to his school at Portmarnock Community College.

He reached the final, finishing fifth, and for a while was a household name in Britain and Ireland as viewers were captivated by the story behind No Name.

“It was a mad time and a bit of a whirlwind,” he recalls. “As a 19-year-old, I was naive to the industry. It has put me on a platform that set me up for life.”

Since then his career has been much more low key. He released his debut album Back to Square One in 2016.

“I have been songwriting all over the world mainly North America and Europe, ” he said. “I am gigging but songwriting is my own passion. The Eurovision is a lovely platform. I’ve got a few more songs I’m working on and hopefully I will get them released after the Eurovision.”

Revitalise hopes

He hopes that being the country’s Eurovision entrant for 2018 will revitalise his career and at the same time revive Ireland’s flagging hopes in a competition in which we still (just about) hold the record number of wins (seven).

Together is in post-production and will be released in the coming weeks.