Tuesday 25 October 2016

If we really want to win the Eurovision, we'll send Marty to sing his heart out

There were no titles by Cecelia Ahern, Michael Harding or any other Irish literary heavyweights among the books found by Navy SEAL members in Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. At least, that's what we're led to believe.

There was, however, a bunch of stuff about conspiracy theories. And lots of books about France. Not, however, an indispensable compendium of modern haute cuisine or a useful guide to the vineyards of the Dordogne. It was the French economy, modern warfare techniques and climate change that held particular fascination for the al-Qaeda supremo.


One particular publication on the list caught my attention.

On the morning after Ireland was dumped out of the Eurovision Song Contest, The Inevitability of the Clash of Civilisations is a title that resonates at the very core of the Irish psyche.

Instead of becoming bitter, I agree with RTE's Minister for Eurovision, Michael Kealy, who praised our gallant and talented 17-year old entrant Molly Sterling, saying: "I think I can speak for the whole country when I say how proud we are of Molly."

Sadly, the crafty eastern bloc countries saw through our attempt to pull in maximum votes from the UK in the final by subliminally linking the traditional icon of Irish rugby supporters, Molly Malone, and David Cameron's currency hobby horse, sterling.

As we console ourselves with the knowledge that in the history of the event Ireland remains the country with the highest average of points per contest (74), the debate on whether Ireland should sever all connections with this pageant of the ridiculous has already begun. Having given the matter due consideration, there can be only one rational conclusion.

Instead of throwing our rattles out of the pram, we should embrace our Euro failure as a badge of honour. In the nonsensical spirit of the giddy phantasmagoria, we should celebrate, proclaiming as Oscar Wilde once did, that "we are a nation of brilliant failures".

Another Wildean aphorism that retains a certain wry topicality is: "We are the greatest talkers since the Greeks."

And the annual Euro bash gives us a chance to prove that truism by sending our wittiest social commentator, Graham Norton. Those who wish to remain loyal to the state broadcaster and follow proceedings on RTE can chuckle along with that less acerbic silver-tongued smoothie Marty Whelan.

Should we care that every 12 months people who spent the year reading traffic reports or weather forecasts in far-flung principalities are suddenly propelled to global stardom as zany cheerleaders exhorting the bewildered to "Make some noise, Eurovision".

We all love a sing-song. That Ireland has failed, yet again, to get into the party shouldn't put us off one bit. Maybe the Euro powerbrokers are still smarting that we sent them a turkey one year.

But in a week when no less a personage than Prince Charles himself revealed in Sligo that he'd "travel a very long way" to hear Irish music, are we going to allow our position as the craziest song 'n' dance merchants in the world to be usurped by a seemingly tone-deaf Montenegro, Latvia or Azerbaijan? Adio, Love Injected and Hour of the Wolf. What vintage computer generates these lyrics?

Perhaps if the country's brains trust consults our former Eurovision chef d'equipe Julian Vignoles, who, drawing on years of Irish disappointment, has published a scholarly treatise on the contentious reality behind the "music, glamour and myth", they'll arrive at the only rational answer to our dilemma. And send Marty Morrissey.

With years of Munster final experience behind him, Marty's game charisma could yet save the day. If that's what we really, really want.

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