Tonight should have been the 65th Eurovision Song Contest with a big Dutch 'welkom' in Rotterdam. Instead, hardcore fans are surviving on the crumbs of nostalgia, happy to number crunch the stats and stories and watch Marty's Magic Eurovision Moments on RTÉ 1.
Making a guest appearance will be Eimear Quinn, who stormed to victory in Oslo in 1996 with Brendan Graham's haunting composition 'The Voice'.
Her win - coming on the heel of previous Irish wins in 1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993 and 1994 - put Ireland firmly at the top of the Eurovision leader board.
There's lots of synchronicity about that night in Oslo, when the petite blonde singer stepped out in her ethereal Mary Grant gown and seduced the world with her crystal-clear soprano voice.
The performance attracted the ultimate 'douze pointe' from seven countries, including Switzerland.
Fast forward 24 years and 48-year-old Eimear now lives in Switzerland from where she recalls Eurovision memories and describes life for her young family on the shores of Lake Geneva.
The road that two years ago took her from her home near Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, with views of Slieve Gullion to Switzerland and views of Mont Blanc, is imbued with Eurovision romance and coincidences, that has fate written all over it.
After winning in Oslo, Eimear ended up falling in love with RTÉ TV producer, Noel Curran, who had been head of the Irish delegation to the song contest. The couple married in 1999.
Noel worked his way up the ladder at RTÉ, ultimately becoming the station's Director General. Three years ago, he was appointed Director General of the European Broadcasting Union, the body that runs the Eurovision. So tonight, he should have been front and centre of things in Holland. Instead, the couple are having a night in with their two daughters - 10-year-old Joelene (a name they both loved from the Dolly Parton hit) and Marlene, who has just turned eight and are looking forward to a virtual Covid party.
Meanwhile, telly watchers here will see Eimear catch up on memory lane with Marty Whelan, whom she adores, especially because of his support for Irish artists on his show on Lyric FM.
Eimear says she is "very happy and proud" to be part of tonight's show.
"Once you do something under the Irish flag, people are immensely proud of you and I am immensely proud of myself for achieving something under the Irish flag.
"And I love my Eurovision fans, I just adore them. They are amazing, so passionate. I was at a show in Holland in December. It was the first time I dipped into the European fan scene in a long time. It was a great night and my girls had never seen me perform in an arena and they got to come and see me perform for an audience of over 10,000 and they got a huge buzz. Linda Martin was there along with Niamh Kavanagh and Johnny Logan, and we had a good catch-up."
Growing up in Tallaght in a family of four, the daughter of a CIE coach builder and a secretary, Eimear could have been forgiven for feeling anxious when Eurovision landed at her door. She had started out studying Environmental Resources Management in DIT but, after graduating, switched to music in Maynooth University.
By her own admission, Eimear was ill-prepared for stardom, which "freaked" her out, but two days after her Oslo win, she sat her final music exams at Maynooth, a good clue to this woman's mettle. When the record companies came looking for her, she showed them the door.
"I didn't want to jump into this entire world where I didn't understand the language and the processes," says Eimear, who went ahead and produced her own first album, Winter Fire And Snow.
Her next step was to go with a major label, which proved to be "an incredibly frustrating experience from the point of view of the amount of people who had input and the length of time that things take".
I'm curious about the snobbery that goes with classical music, and how it fitted in with Eurovision, which these days is all high-octane camp and oceans of sequins.
But it couldn't have been more different when Eimear, a member of the Anuna choral ensemble, entered the Eurovision scene. No false eyelashes or false tan. No jewellery and only a Celtic-inspired, almost virginal, gown. She was to be the woman coming from the earth, with a voice that could blow cobwebs away.
"For me, Eurovision was a total gift. It was a total curve ball in my life and I never expected to be involved in it," says Eimear, admitting she had a "very different path set out for myself for a purist, classical life".
"My big dream was to be in a professional choir like The Sixteen or the Tallis Scholars in the UK, to be a soprano and maybe teach. This was the community I lived in and, as you say, Eurovision didn't really fit in that community but for me, doing Eurovision blew my world open.
"I had a very niche plan and all of a sudden I was on this enormous world stage, full of sequins, glitter, crazy camp and amazingly tense fans but Brendan's song did speak to something in me. It suited me vocally with a very powerful lyric and it had a sense of origin in Ireland so I didn't feel like I was being asked to go on wearing sequinned flares and a headband - which I think I would have definitely said 'no' to."
Since the birth of her daughters, Eimear has concentrated on live performances, including an annual concert at The Pavillion in Dun Laoghaire which draws out her small army of fans. She says she was clear that she didn't want to give up her career when she became a mother but she also knew she couldn't "disappear into studios and under headphones for weeks on end".
But when it came to starting a family, recurring pregnancy loss and an autoimmune condition meant that Eimear's journey to motherhood was not a straightforward one.
"We had a very long and complicated journey to parenthood, so when we eventually got there, and once the dream came true, I didn't want to do recording and concentrated instead on performance"
Over the last 20 years, Eimear has sung with orchestras but never had a chance to record with them. That has now been rectified with Ériu, a new album which has been three years in the making and for which she has been saving, and composing, over the last decade. In the end, she took out a loan and Ériu finally became a reality.
"The name Ériu means Ireland. In lore, there were three sisters, Ériu, Banba and Fódla, and they each competed to have their name assigned to the country. Ériu was chosen and that's where Erin or Éire came from," Eimear explains.
To call her head cook and bottle washer is really an understatement. She wrote the material and orchestrations and recorded it with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. The mixing process was done by live streaming and the record was mastered in the famous Abbey Road studios in London where, Eimear says, she was "clutching her credit card because I was the producer - all very different when I went there before and someone else was paying".
With the heavy lifting done - there is a release date of May 29 and the first single, 'The Watchman' is already out - Eimear's next job is to try and line up orchestras and concerts. She is quick to point out that she wouldn't have had the confidence to do a project of this scale before becoming a mum.
"I don't think I would have had the confidence to say 'that works' or 'that doesn't work' or the brutal kind of decision-making that it takes when you are also the artist," she explains.
"I think when you become a parent, you are faced with choices, snap decisions for things outside of yourself multiple times in the day and it makes you acquire that skill of just signing off on something because there is something else coming along, and not pondering on it forever and ever. Parenting actually equipped me for ramping up the scale of the project by comparison to the one I did before."
Does she ever doubt herself while being her own boss?
"All the time, of course, and your ears get tired, too", she laughs. "You are listening to your own voice constantly. As an artist it becomes really irritating and then you have to take off your artist's hat and put on your producer hat and be able to say, 'Well that's working' or 'we need the voice to be louder or softer', or 'we need more French horn' or 'the strings need to swell on bar seven'.
"You do question yourself constantly but you have to make executive decisions because you are the executive at the end of the day."
In recent years, Eimear's career has been studded with a string of invitations to perform for visiting VIPs or on diplomatic state visits abroad.
"For me, to perform Irish music in a classical setting in the context of singing for Queen Elizabeth during her first visit to Ireland, singing for Pope Francis in Dublin and to perform at the Royal Albert Hall during the first state visit of an Irish President, Michael D Higgins, to the UK, is a humbling experience. The projects that I get asked to contribute to, that is something that fills me with huge joy and excitement."
Luckily for the singer, she had her cover shoot for the new album done at Carlingford before lockdown struck - with a caseload of incredible clothes, all Irish, of course.
"I knew I wanted Irish craftmanship in some shape and form for the shoot. I wanted to give that impression of feminine and strong Mother Ireland in a sense, that sense of strength coming from the earth, a female deity.
"I had seen a leather harness with flowers and I trawled the internet until I found it and when I discovered Una Burke, I found a whole treasure chest of what she makes. It was a strong accent to a soft feminine that really worked with the music, the imagery and the landscape."
Eimear has always loved clothes and certainly sees herself collaborating again with Burke who, with her husband Emmet and baby son, have moved back from London to live in her native Co Roscommon.
"I love styling, finding unusual pieces and upscaling things from years ago, adding belts or a little modesty cape, it can really change things that you've had for years ."
Eimear says the Swiss get a bad rep for being a bit distant but it is not warranted. "They are very friendly. It's a very elegant society in a sense, very respectful and an understated group of people."
The plan is for herself and the girls to move back to Monaghan in a year's time, back to the Gaelscoil in Carrickmacross, and Noel will follow the following year.
"We love it there. It started out as a two-bedroomed cottage we went to for weekends. We never bought in Dublin, we always rented flats, and then we extended the cottage into a family home and we absolutely love it there. It is our home."
Looking back over her Eurovision adventures and where it has brought her to, Eimear has no regrets.
"I've only ever had a positive response from everyone with regard to my Eurovision work. It lacks credibility for a certain cohort, for sure. Here in Ireland, it is very much light entertainment, just for fun, but still held with enormous affection.
"The biggest lesson I ever learnt from Eurovision was not to live by other people's rules or expectations. I learned a few lessons early on. The number one is that every individual who listens to a piece of music is your audience and they deserve the same amount of respect regardless of their taste. Taste is completely subjective and if somebody loves Abba and somebody loves Dvořák, they are both human with taste and there is no right or wrong. The singer Frances Black said, 'Your audience deserves your respect and they are the ones that are going to make it possible for you to continue to live your dream.'"
Ten years saving for it, three years making it, Eimear's dream of doing an orchestral album is finally realised.
'Ériu' is released on May 29, available on Spotify and Apple for download or streaming. Physical copies go on sale later in the year. More info from eimearquinn.com