silver medal  | 

Today it will be 25 years since my pal Marc Roberts came close to Eurovision glory

Marc sang Mysterious Woman, a song written by Fermanagh songwriter John Farry, and he finished in second place to the UK’s Katrina and the Waves, who won with Love Shine A Light.
Marc Roberts

Marc Roberts

Daniel O'Donnell

Today it will be 25 years since we last came close to winning the Eurovision Song Contest with our representative, my good friend Marc Roberts.

Marc sang Mysterious Woman, a song written by Fermanagh songwriter John Farry, and he finished in second place to the UK’s Katrina and the Waves, who won with Love Shine A Light.

Through the years people have been telling Marc that he won the silver medal at that Eurovision final in 1997, which is a good way of looking at it.

A songwriter in his own right, as well as being one of Ireland’s top singers, Marc has gone on to have a great career as both a performer and a broadcaster.

He also introduced me to the art of songwriting many years ago and we co-wrote Crush On You, which was a Top 10 hit in the British charts.

Looking back on his exciting Eurovision experience 25 years ago, Marc recalls being told the moment he walked off stage that 350 million people had watched his performance. “I’m glad I didn’t know that going on,” he laughs.

Marc also remembers having a very busy week leading up to his performance that night at what was then The Point, now the 3Arena, in Dublin.

On the evening of the show he took a nap – and almost missed the bus back for his big moment at Eurovision.

“There were 26 countries having parties and I had to attend all of them, being from the host country,” he says. “After initial preparations on the day of the final, I went back to the hotel and decided to have a lie down for 20 minutes.

“The next thing I remember is getting a phone call from the manager of the hotel inviting me down for a customary glass of champagne before the bus left for the venue.

“I said ‘Yes, I’d love to, what time does the bus leave?’ ‘In 10 minutes,’ he replied. Then it was a mad dash into the shower and I arrived downstairs with my hair still drenched.”

These days Marc says he has two birthdays – thanks to Eurovision. “Back in 1997 I needed a publicity event that April to highlight my role in that year’s Eurovision, so RTE decided that I should celebrate my birthday and they invited all the media,” he explains.

“We pretended that my birthday was in April, when it’s actually June 25! All the media were invited to celebrate with me. That year’s Eurovision presenters Ronan Keating and Carrie Crowley were there as well, and it got lots of publicity. That’s showbusiness!”

Going back to the Eurosong final that year, Marc recalls that Brendan O’Carroll was the interval act with Gerry Brown and Tommy and Jimmy Swarbrigg.

“They performed in white suits as the comedy quartet Parazone, which was a parody on Boyzone,” he recalls. “It was very funny. When Brendan saw the rehearsals that day he felt I was the winner, backed me in Paddy Power and won a fortune!”

Marc did a fantastic performance on the night of the Eurovision Song Contest and made his country proud. “Obviously it would have been lovely to have won, but I was happy to finish in second place,” he says. “I wouldn’t have been happy if it was second last.”


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