Tag Archives: Eurovision

Theatrical: ‘Last orders at the dockside’


Disclaimer: This play ‘officially opens’ tonight. The Wednesday performance I saw, was the second preview show, for which I paid for my ticket. Hence I am not a ‘critic’. This review is based on my opinion as a paying customer, so I am not bound by the critic’s etiquette of not reviewing before opening night.

‘Last orders at the Dockside’ is the latest play written by Dermot Bolger, directed by Graham McLaren, and is part of the Dublin Theatre Festival at the Abbey Theatre. Set in 1980 on the night that Johnny Logan won the Eurovision Song Contest, a community gathers in the Dockside Bar along the North Wall Quays to commemorate Luke Dempsey, a recently deceased docker. The Dublin docklands in 1980 were a far different beast to what they are today. Starting at the Custom House by the river Liffey, they stretched all the way out to the sea. For generations entire families lived in docker communities close to the quays, where the men would gather every morning for ‘reads’ where their names would be called to work, to unload the cargo from arriving ships. In 1980 automation meant that this dangerous, centuries old way of life was under threat. These were communities under siege, their way of life facing extinction. The future of the Docklands as a shiny, glass monument to capitalism – the International Financial Services Centre with its gleaming mirrored buildings housing banks, insurance companies and my block of flats – was unknown. Continue reading Theatrical: ‘Last orders at the dockside’

All kinds of everything in Helsinki. With the Finnish Al Porter


In 2006 Finland won the Eurovision Song Contest, when the band Lordi romped to victory with ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’. At the time I was firmly embedded in the Finnish tribe of Amsterdam, so I was aware of the intense celebrations. This was Finland’s first victory. I, being Irish, was much more blasé about the whole thing. Ireland had won it seven and a half times previously (Linda Martin’s second place position in 1984 with timeless classic ‘Terminal 3’, is the half victory – she may not have won the overall contest, but the moral victory was hers).

As is always the case, the following year the winning country hosts the competition. So Helsinki in 2007 was the glamourous location for the Festival.

I would describe myself as a mild Eurovsion fan – perfectly amenable to watching the show, and particularly the results if it is on television, and I am at home.

Naturally I love ABBA – and although they are the very essence of Eurovision, they have sort of transcended the competition – but I would not be a huge fan of the pageant itself. A fair-weather fan maybe?

Not so some of my friends. One such friend from Amsterdam would probably be able to tell you who came 9th in 1997, without thinking about it. He downloads and listens to each country’s entry, months prior to the main event, and can predict with an almost uncanny certainty that song’s  position in the final.

Some old friends from Dublin would have been equally fanatical.

They were all traveling to Helsinki to witness the serious business of cheesy music. I was tagging along – more anxious to see Helsinki and Finland for the first time. We arranged to meet up with the Dublin contingent.

Five young men on a trip. And not a wife or a girlfriend between us – all of us being confirmed bachelors (same sex marriage didn’t exist then). Continue reading All kinds of everything in Helsinki. With the Finnish Al Porter