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๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Blast from the Past: Ireland 1979

We know a lot about Eurovision and we want to share this knowledge with you! Therefore weโ€™d like to bring you a blast from the past. Today: Cathal Dunne, who represented Ireland in 1979 with the song “Happy man”.

Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest

Ireland’s journey in the Eurovision Song Contest reads like a tale of two eras. Once the undeniable monarchs of Eurovision, their story is a mix of triumph and challenge, a saga of unparalleled success followed by a period of struggle.

In the golden age of Irish Eurovision history, the nation didn’t just participate; they dominated. Their legacy began with Dana’s “All Kinds of Everything” in 1970. The 1980s saw Johnny Logan emerge as a Eurovision icon. His “What’s Another Year” in 1980 and “Hold Me Now” in 1987 didn’t just win; they brought him the title Mr. Eurovision. Linda Martin, with “Why Me?” in 1992, written by none other than Logan, added another chapter to this story.

The 1990s continued to smile on Ireland, with Niamh Kavanagh’s “In Your Eyes” in 1993 and the duo of Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids” in 1994. Eimear Quinn’s “The Voice” in 1996 was perhaps the zenith of this era. In recent years, Ireland struggles and hardly reaches the final.

Johnny Logan, 1987

The Irish National Song Contest 1979

On the 4th of February, the Irish National Song Contest was held. Eight songs were performed, and regional juries chose the winner. Some familiar names could be found on the shortlist:

  1. Tweed, “No restrictions“, 4 pts, 5th
  2. Johnny Logan, “Angie”, 15 pts, 3rd
  3. Anderson, “Goodbye”, 3 pts, 6th
  4. The Memories, “The main attraction“, 13 pts, 4th
  5. Red Hurley and Tina, “Hiding behind our smile”, 0 pts, 8th
  6. Cathal Dunne, “Happy man“, 36 pts, 1st
  7. Catriona Walsh, “Superstar”, 3 pts, 6th
  8. The Miami Show Band, “Too much is going on”, 26 pts, 2nd

Both Red Hurley and Tina represented Ireland before, but faced a zero this time. Totally unknown, but soon to become one of the biggest Eurovision stars ever, Johnny Logan, made his debut in this national final.

Cathal Dunne

Cathal Dunne, born in 1951 in Cork, Ireland, is a renowned Irish singer, widely recognized for his participation in the 1979 Eurovision Song Contest. He represented Ireland with the song “Happy Man,” which became quite popular, reaching No. 3 in the Irish charts. Dunne’s musical journey began early, influenced by his uncle, Jack Lynch, the former Taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland.

After graduating from University College Cork and Montfort College of Performing Arts in 1974, Dunne quickly made his mark in the music industry. He won the Castlebar Song Contest that same year with “Shalom” and participated in the Yamaha Music Festival in 1976 with “Lover, Not a Wife.” His single “Bad Boy” and top ten hit “Danny” further established his presence in the Irish music scene. He was also known for his performances with his backing bands, Stateside and later The Formula, in Irish clubs.

In 1981, Dunne’s song “We’ll be there” was featured in Fianna Fรกil’s general election campaign. His Eurovision entry “Happy Man” won him the Irish National Song Contest, beating notable competitors like Tina Reynolds, Red Hurley, and future winner Johnny Logan. He finished fifth in the Eurovision final in Jerusalem.

Dunne’s move to the United States in the early 1980s marked a new chapter in his career. Settling there permanently after initial concerts in Michigan in 1982, he embraced the role of a traditional Irish balladeer, releasing several albums and diversifying his performances with comedy and show tunes. His continued dedication to music has kept him connected to his Irish roots while entertaining audiences in his adopted home.

Happy Man

As said, “Happy Man” was Ireland’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest held in Jerusalem that year.ย 
This ballad with its optimistic lyrics stood out as a cheerful and engaging composition. Dunne, not just the performer but also the songwriter, showcased his multifaceted talent through this entry.

The song’s essence, encapsulated in its title, reflects a positive and content outlook on life. Its light-hearted and jubilant nature resonated with audiences, leading to a respectable fifth-place finish in the contest. This achievement was significant, considering the competitive nature of Eurovision and the diverse array of musical styles it encompasses.

“Happy Man” enjoyed commercial success following the contest, particularly in Ireland where it reached number three on the charts. The song remains a memorable part of Cathal Dunne’s musical career.


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