Aftermath 2016 (6): Dark future for Ireland at Eurovision

In this series of articles we are not only looking at the stories of succes at Eurovision 2016. We also focus on the disappointments. In today’s episode, we write about the reactions after Nikcy Byrne’s failure to reach the final for Ireland.

Ireland, still the record holder of seven victories at the contest, has lost their magic spell for quite a long time now. Since 2001, they have only made it to the top 10 of the final twice, and Ireland has failed to qualify through the semi finals six times since 2004. Nicky Byrne was the third act in a row to keep Ireland out of the grand final.

The iternal selection of the former singer from Westlife led to high expectations, since Ireland finally went for a relatively big name, in stead of young unexperienced talent. However, the first doubts started arrising on the internet after his presentation of ‘Sunlight’ at the Ray d’Arcy Show. His vocal skills were not what people expected.

In Stockholm, Nikcy did not even come close to qualifying for the final. At the end of the second semi final, Ireland was not announced among the top 10 entries and therefore failed to qualify to compete in the final. It was later revealed that Ireland placed fifteenth in the semi-final, receiving a total of 46 points: 31 points from the televoting and 15 points from the juries.

The Aftermath

Of course, disappointment was huge in the Irish camp. Together with Sergey Lazarev from Russia, Nicky Byrne was probably the most famous character before the contest took place to be on stage. At first, he could hide it a bit on Twitter.

On the day of the final however, Nicky was tweeting about dinner and “if there was something on tv that night,” seemingly being over the bad result already. But a couple of days later, the bitterness really struck him, apparantly stating “Obviously, it’d bring more audience from a Westlife point of view. But I don’t know… Listen, I think you could send U2 and I think it doesn’t really matter anymore.”

The biggest challenge for broadcaster RTÉ is to approach it differently, and stick to a long-term strategy. The fact that their gameplan of picking arrived artists did not work out this time, does not mean it has to be changed. A return to the old mentoring system with young unexperienced artists does not seem like the right thing to do. But if Ireland keeps changing its strategy completely every year, its future at the contest seems to be pretty dark, with an even longer streak of “Dutch results” possibly ahead of them.


  1. Couldn’t agree more, some things RTE really need to do:
    1. Lose the “we’ve won it most times” aren’t we the best attitude, last time was 1996 and the contest is different now.
    2. Stop now with the “bloc voting” is to blame for everything, poor us. Yes there is bloc voting, but a good song will qualify and do well.
    3. If holding a National Final, get it out of the RTE studios, sound is terrible.
    4. When presenting the song before the contest give more thought to the presentation, and for goodness sake don’t think, we’re Irish let’s stick some Irish dancers and drummers in! 2014 perfect example, but look at Slovenia the same year, that’s something Ireland could have done!
    5. Get rid of Marty Whelan, time for a fresh younger voice, do what the BBC is doing make it more an event, get people to tweet in about their Eurovision parties etc.
    6. when picking an Act, pick someone who has a strong vocal, stage presence, and if singing about “Sunlight” have a sun in the background with bright colours in the presentation.

  2. Nicky’s performance was really pitiful, and the song wasn’t any better either. What were they expecting? And dear Nicky, you may be a DILF, but no Bono…

  3. Ireland should look inside instead of pointing the finger to other causes then themselves.
    YThe song, the voice, the performance, the act, the lighting: really everything was weaker than weak. 15th placec is fully deserved. U2 could have won if they participated, even so the Cranberries, Corrs and other big names. Besides it’s wierd to expect that all other 41 countries don’t want to be in the top 10 and work for it. If you want to have a good result, work harder to beat the 1/42 or 10/42 statistics.

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