'I am so incredibly proud'
West Wicklow man who co-wrote Irish song is back home after 'surreal' Eurovision adventure
Baltinglass singer songwriter Mark 'Cappy' Caplice returned home from Eurovision 2018 with a heart full of pride on Sunday after what he described as a 'rollercoaster of a week' with the 'highest highs, the lowest lows' and some of the most 'beautiful moments' of his life.
As the co-writer of the Irish entry 'Together', Mark formed part of the national contingent which attended this year's Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon.
After qualifying for the final following a tense semi-final last Tuesday night, the Irish entry made international headlines after China decided to edit the two male dancers out of singer Ryan O'Shaughnessy's performance due to what they branded 'homosexual content'. The move was widely condemned and led to widespread support of and interest in the Irish entry, which was the third favourite to win when the final aired on Saturday night.
'So many people came up to us and said that Ireland made the Eurovision this year. We had so many messages of support, including from one person in Russia who is in the LGBT community and said that we gave him hope and strength. It is so, so sad to think that a person living in a country where it is illegal to be gay is terrified to reveal their true feelings. To hear that we gave them hope is a beautiful thing. Love is love,' Mark said.
From start to finish, Mark said that the Eurovision journey was an unforgettable experience, which now, as he sits at home in Baltinglass, feels somewhat surreal.
'I woke up in my own bed on Monday morning and it was lovely, but I thought "did that actually happen?" It was so surreal. I am so incredibly proud to have been a part of it and my heart is smiling from shoulder to shoulder. Hearing our song sung by 22,000 people in the arena was the most intense beauty that I can recall and it's a long way from the song we wrote in a little room in Dublin,' he said.
Mark admitted that he was momentarily disappointed by Ireland's 16th place finish, despite the fact that it was the first song to make it through to the finals in five years.
'Straight after, I was gutted but it would be foolish to allow myself to be so sorrowful in such a beautiful moment. I just had to reconfigure my head. We went out, had a great night with the whole team and lots of family and friends. We couldn't have asked for better,' he said.
The support from home was something that touched Mark and his Irish team mates deeply.
'The messages were phenomenal. Every time I replied to 20, another 50 popped up on my phone. It was unreal and I am so grateful for the support and love. I have never been more proud to call myself an Irishman,' he said.
Mark said he will now be taking time to process the events of the past week before moving on to his next adventure.