Friday 24 January 2020

Millstreet still flying the flag for Eurovision countries

Matt Murphy views the Eurovision Song Contest flags on display in Millstreet. Credit: Picture John Tarrant
Matt Murphy views the Eurovision Song Contest flags on display in Millstreet. Credit: Picture John Tarrant


LOVE it or hate it, there's nothing quite like the Eurovision song contest and its sure to attract attention on Saturday night.

Indeed, far off Azerbaijan has caught Jedward fever since the Irish pop twins touched down there.

It brings back memories of Eurovision days in Millstreet back in 1993. And thanks to Millstreet Tidy Towns Association, the flags of competing countries are flying once again in the town.

The concept was originated by Matt Murphy for the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest in Millstreet, where, before an international audience of over 350 million people, Niamh Kavanagh wowed audiences with ' In Your Eyes' to win for Ireland.

"For Eurovision, I thought it would be nice to recognise the competing countries. I undertook the paintings before the Eurovision and it aroused terrific interest during the hosting", said Matt.

1993 was the first year to feature a pre-qualifying heat for Eastern European countries, following the dissolution of the Eastern bloc and the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

"There were new countries participating and through Time magazine and related publications, I was able to determine the colours of the new nations. I undertook the paintings myself, it was a labour of love," said Matt.

Millstreet gave a special warm reception for the new entry from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country in a state of war in 1993.

Through the auspices of Millstreet Tidy Towns Association, the progressive group ensures the memories of 1993 live on through aluminium fixings depicting the name of the country, its colours and name of song sung.

"The Eurovision Song Contest was a mighty event in Millstreet, thousands came into town and everybody in good humour," said Matt, adding: "All credit to Millstreet Tidy Towns on renewing the European flags".

Looking ahead to Saturday night next, Matt will watch the proceedings. However, while he was hopeful for Jedward Matt was unsure as to their actual prospects.