On the 20th anniversary of Ireland’s last win in the competition with Eimear Quinn’s ‘The Voice’, and with unquestionable big-stage experience in the form of Byrne, this should have been Ireland’s chance to get to a Eurovision final for the first time since Ryan Dolan in 2013.
Add to what should have been a recipe for success was the fact that , among the co-writers of Byrne’s song ‘Sunlight’, was Wayne Hector who penned seven of Westlife’s number 1s.
However, even with his expertise for popular hits, Ireland once again bowed out early beaten in last night’s heat in Stockholm by, amongst others, Australia.
Nicky Byrne said of the result: “Obviously I’m disappointed — 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. I went out there and gave it my absolute best shot.”
The competition was even more personal for the 37-year-old as his song ‘Sunlight’ is the first track from his new solo album of the same name.
This was the first year that Ireland’s entry had been chosen without a public vote, and there was added pressure on Byrne with the eyes of America watching, as the show was broadcast across the pond for the first time too.
He took to the stage in a leather and suede jacket, keeping staging simple with just his band in the background.
A spotlight was trained on Byrne as he sang the song from the centre of the stage, in contrast with the complex choreography and flash outfits which featured in many other contestants’ acts.
Ahead of performing, the singer had said he had “been thinking for a while” about moving between presenting the results for RTÉ and standing on the stage himself, and the timing this year seemed like serendipity.
“I presented the results for the last few years on RTÉ and I’ve seen the disappointment when the Irish entry doesn’t get through to the final,” he said.