Eurovision 1994 (That interval act)


It is funny! peculiar, not ha-ha
how a nation can tilt in an instant,
a geronimo from a precipice. A belief in flight
on the wings of a wet Saturday night.

A dulcet voice, clear and sweet
that raises hairs on the back of hard necks.
This trembles deeper, into the groins and spines,
of a sun-worshipping race.

It clogs throats and holds oceans of breath,
a different kind of nationalism, tribal,
vital, elemental. It is of birth, ice and wind,
grown from brown bogs and narrow roads
to sea ports,
Grace’s galleons running before a storm.

Race memories evoked, “Hear my cry”
and the country looks to flags and emblems,
strange and wonderful drifts
on a cloud of silver strings, song envelopes us,

A tribe that has been trodden on,
derided, depressed and recessed,
dragged through ditches and dikes
suddenly breaks free from all of that.

Belief beats in swelling chests,
patriotism squeezes out poverty and misery
as Ireland rises on the strum of a harp.

A Celtic princess steps into
the music of The River Woman.
She is Kathleen, a fairy queen,
Eyes flashing green,
hair a mess of chestnut curls

This is a call from the heartland,
Tara’s heroes echoed on licks and shadows.
And then the drums call the fairy Prince,
he flies on wings of steel toed feet,
speed and the beat that taps our music
in a tattoo of ancient Eire.

Earth rise, silence.
as he challenges the drummers to out tap
He is a rooster proudly crowing,
and this is a brand new Ireland, born in a
crazed and crazy instant,
an interval act that defines a nation.

A Celtic fusion of words and music
and those feet. Sexy, synchronised,
an agonising strain of exuberance.

And still it builds as a line of dancers
emerges, a crescendo of Gaelic gusto
more and more until the music is the dance,
the taps, the beat, my pulse,
the nation’s heartbeat.

Dancing feet beat recession from under
quilts and out of back kitchens,
An army marching on the hammering feet of a nation.
A country reborn to thunderous applauds.
The call of the River.

     -Dave Kavanagh
This poem was written for a contest with a prompt “Your day in history”
I chose April 30th 1994
On the day in question, a simple interval act on a euro-vision show changed the way Ireland looked at itself. It is I know, hard to believe but it is entirely true. I have included a link to the actual broadcast so you can judge for yourself.

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