Irish Eurovision Contestants: All in the Family

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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we celebrate Ireland and raise a glass to this country that values close-knit families and good music. Put that mix together and you find the phenomenon of performing siblings and relatives who have represented Ireland at Eurovision. Ireland is a Eurovision powerhouse, and holds the record for the country with the most Eurovision wins – seven victories to date!

Here’s a look back at those family members who tried their Irish luck and brought the world a dose of their country’s charm and energy on the Eurovision stage.

Donna and Joseph McCaul

Donna and Joseph Mccaul
Donna and Joseph Mccaul [Credit: Eurovision.tv]

The only brother-sister Irish duo performed in 2005, when Joseph was just 16 and Donna was 21, making them the youngest act Ireland has ever sent to Eurovision. They performed an upbeat sung called “Love?” backed up by Irish step dancers. They are two of six children who grew up in the riverside town of Athlone in the center of Ireland. They continued their musical careers as “The McCauls” before starting to perform separately. They also spent some time as regulars on an Irish reality television show.

Gary and Ryan O’Shaughnessy

Gary and Ryan O'Shaughnessy
Gary and Ryan O’Shaughnessy [Credit eurovisionireland.net]

The musical O’Shaughnessy family, stocked with singers, guitarists, fiddlers, and pianists, has produced – so far – two Eurovision contestants. Gary represented Ireland in 2001 singing, “Without Your Love,” and his nephew Ryan followed in his footsteps with “Together” in 2018. Gary studied jazz guitar growing up and spent several years performing as a duo with his brother, Brian. Ryan, who began as a child actor, became a singer-songwriter. Like his uncle, he is a guitarist, but also plays piano and saxophone.

Bronagh and Karen Mullan

The Mullans Sisters
The Mullan Sisters [Credit: Eurosong-contest.fandom]

The Mullan Sisters are classically-trained musicians from Belfast who turned their hand to pop and cabaret singing, performing at Eurovision 1999. Bronagh was 21 and Karen was 18 at the time, and they appeared together in floor-skimming dresses of silver and white as they harmonized on “When You Need Me,” composed by Bronagh. In music school they studied piano, violin and clarinet.

Thomas and John Swarbrigg

Swarbriggs
The Swarbrigg brothers, 1976

Thomas and John Swarbrigg, are brothers who had a series of Top 10 hits in Ireland and represented their country twice in the 1970s. They have since gone on to careers as music promoters but, in 1975, they performed a song they wrote together, “That’s What Friends Are For.” In 1977, they again represented Ireland with another song they composed, “It’s Nice To Be In Love Again.” This time, however, they appeared under the name “The Swarbriggs Plus Two,” with two women singers, Nicola Kerr and Alma Carroll.

As the countdown to the Eurovision 2019 begins, keep an eye out for Sarah McTernan, 24, who will represent Ireland.

Sarah, a singer-songwriter, has a lot to live up to — not only has Ireland won the most first-place victories, they have a record number of consecutive wins (three) and 31 Top Ten wins to their credit as well. Sarah, the first in her family to appear at Eurovision, will be singing a love song, “22.” Send her a four-leaf clover.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Do you have a favorite Irish Eurovision Act? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Eugene Stuart


    March 16, 2019

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    March 17, 2019

    Did you forget twins Jedward?