The Netherlands and Ireland feels like a vintage tournament match-up from the word go. The Netherlands will feel satisfied to win a group that also contained Germany, Yugoslavia & Slovenia but would not have expected to face the Irish top seeds who were upset by a rampant Australian performance to end up settling for second place. Whoever goes home after this vote will feel extremely disappointed and the Irish will be feeling more confident as the three showcase years for this clash are also three years of Irish victories coming from The Hague, Brussels and Millstreet.
The Hague 1980 was a funny, little year for Eurovision. With Israel having won the previous year and declining to host the competition, there was a mini hot potato played with hosting duties against the backdrop of a continent-wide economic crisis until the Dutch broadcasters agreed to host on the condition that they could use parts of the opening sequence and stage design from the 1976 contest hosted in the same venue. It would also go down in history as the second time an Irish act had come to the Netherlands and brought back a victory as the Eurovision community was introduced to Johnny Logan. The Netherlands performed 15th on the night as Maggie MacNeal brought a true Dutch atmosphere to the room with ‘Amsterdam’, a song in praise of the nation’s capital that would eventually place 5th. Ireland performed 17th on the night as Johnny Logan sang the ballad that would go on to become more timeless than one would have expected, ‘What’s Another Year’ and romping to a comfortable victory in the process.
There was always going to be an air of excitement about Eurovision finally taking place in the de-facto capital of Europe, in 1987. The contest had a very ‘80s sound all over but in the end, it was won again by Johnny Logan singing the most classic ballad one could ever dream up and bringing the contest to Ireland for the third time. The Netherlands performed 12th on the night as Marcha sang ‘Rechtop in de wind’ a dramatic ballad about the end of a relationship with a lovely beat under it that would earn The Netherlands another 5th place finish. Ireland performed 20th on the night Ireland performed 20th on the night as Johnny Logan sang ‘Hold Me Now’, the dictionary definition of a sweet ballad with a key change in the middle that even managed to top Johnny’s previous Eurovision experience both on points and sheer timelessness as he celebrated his second contest victory.
The thought of Eurovision being hosted in a town with a population of 1,555 would seem utterly insane today and yet Millstreet managed it as recently as 1993. This was not only the year that Eurovision opened up to the young Balkan nations of Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina & Slovenia but also saw Ireland join the club that includes Spain, Luxembourg and Israel of countries who have secured back-to-back Eurovision victories. Ireland performed 14th of the night as Niamh Kavanagh belted out the romantic ballad ‘In Your Eyes’, cementing Ireland’s Eurovision identity of lyrical songs packed with heart and soul and winning the contest for Ireland yet again. The Netherlands performed 20th on the night with Ruth Jacott singing ‘Vrede’, an amazingly deep, complicated and beautiful song about technical advancements and their futility in the context of peace, a beautiful sentiment and an amazing performance that earned Ruth 6th place in the final scores.
Please vote no later than August 6th when we will finish off the first half of knockout stage clashes with Estonia and Ukraine going head to head.