Nicky Byrne has expressed his disappointment having failed to make it through to the final of the Eurovision song contest with his song Sunlight.
"Obviously I'm disappointed," the former Westlife singer said. "I really would have loved to represent Ireland at the final on Saturday, but sometimes things just don't work out the way you want them to."
Earlier in the week he said, “no matter what happens I’ll remember this experience until the day I die.”
The Irish contingent will be downbeat. Earlier at the Liffey Pub fans gathered before going to the Globe Arena for the semi-final in a tricolour wielding show of force. They were elated after a week in Stockholm and hopeful for Byrne.
"I was at the dress rehearsals last night and he definitely got the greatest cheers," said Alan Clarke.
“I’m nervous every year,” said Michael McEllone a four-time Eurovision veteran who has a small tricolour painted on his cheek. “It’s national pride.”
"I'm sick with nerves," said Pat Kent, who was never at Eurovision before, "despite being born the year before the Eurovision started . . . Coming here was a bucket list thing."
“It’s kind of like the World Cup for gay people in a way,” said Clarke. “That’s how I explain it to the guys in work. They don’t watch it.”
“They do watch it,” said McEllone. “The people who let on they don’t watch secretly love it.”
A man called Johnny O’Mahony joined the group. “This guy always gets on the camera,” said McEllone.
“That’s why I recognise your face!” said Clarke, who’s never met O’Mahony before.
“It’s just one of those things,” said O’Mahony.
‘Nathan Carter land’
They discussed the other acts. Everyone has their own top 10 list. These vary hugely. Pat Kent thinks the Dutch country song would go down well in “Nathan Carter land back home”.
McEllone listed Eurovision cliches, “fireworks, a wind machine, a key change. There’s a drinking game.”
"There's less humour this year," observed Craig Thompson, a Scot who is nonetheless supporting Nicky.
“No novelty acts,” said Clarke.
"Justin Timberlake is kind of a novelty act," said McEllone (Timberlake is Saturday's guest act). "That's divided people."
“It’s brilliant,” said Kent. “It will bring new people to it.”
Clarke misses the days when countries used the interval acts to showcase their national character. "Though I did think 'Wouldn't be great if they got Madonna?' and then I thought 'would that be too gay?'" Everyone laughed.
We started moving towards the arena. As we got closer the crowd around us got thicker, people were draped in flags from 42 countries and everywhere people were singing snatches of songs.
"The news is depressing and Brexit is depressing," said smiling English woman Jude Habib. "Then you come here and it's just fun."
Habib’s friend went to her hotel to change but Habib wanted to stay out with her Irish friends “in case it’s the last time before they’re knocked out”.
“Ah now,” said a man wrapped in a tricolour. “Sorry,” she said. It was a little on the nose.