Entertainment & Arts

Ireland misses Eurovision final for first time since 2009

Kasey Smith
Image caption Kasey Smith is the first Irish act since Sinead Mulvey and Black Daisy not to make the final

Ireland, the most successful country in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, has failed to reach the grand final for the first time since 2009.

Kasey Smith and the Irish traditional group Can-Linn, failed to impress with their song Heartbeat.

Michael Kealy from Irish broadcaster RTE said he was "devastated for them, considering all the work that went in".

Thursday night's semi-final saw Austria's "bearded lady" Conchita Wurst go through to Saturday's final.

Image caption Wurst is the persona of Austrian Tom Neuwirth

Wurst is a drag persona created by Austrian Tom Neuwirth.

The singer claimed to have been overwhelmed while performing the Bond theme-style Rise Like a Phoenix, saying: "I stopped singing and I burst into tears".

She joins Switzerland's whistler Sebalter; Slovenia's Tinkara Kovac; Poland's Donatan & Cleo; Romania's Paula Seling & OVI; Norway's Carl Espen; Freaky fortune featuring RiskyKidd from Greece; Malta's Firelight; Belarus's Teo; and Softengin from Finland in the final.

The semi-final also saw Australia represented at the contest for the first time when Jessica Mauboy performed.

Image caption Australian Mauboy was a guest performer

The singer, who is not taking part in the competition itself, performed her song Sea of Flags in front of the Australian and Aboriginal flags during a break in the show.

The performance was in recognition of Australia's enthusiasm for the annual song contest, and followed a tongue-in-cheek video in which the country was airlifted to mainland Europe.

UK has prime position

Tuesday's first semi-final saw Russia's Tolmachevy Sisters advance, much to the displeasure of some fans, who booed the act in an apparent protest over the crisis in Ukraine and Russia's stance on gay rights.

That night also saw Montenegro, Hungary, Armenia, Azerbaijan, San Marino, Ukraine, Sweden, Netherlands and Iceland join the line-up for the grand final on Saturday.

Last year's winner and this year's host nation, Denmark, was already guaranteed a place, as were Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK - known as the "big five" nations, for their financial support of the annual contest.

Media captionOn hand to help viewers weigh up the competition this weekend will be singer Ana Matronic from the Scissor Sisters.

Meanwhile, the running order for the final has been announced, and Ukraine's Mariya Yaremchuk will open the show.

The UK's Molly Smitten-Downes will perform last, usually regarded as one of the most coveted slots.

It is hoped her song, Children Of The Universe, will fare better than the UK's previous two entries.

Bonnie Tyler slumped to 19th place last year while Englebert Humperdinck, who opened the show in 2012, ended up finishing second from last.

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