Northern Ireland

Can lightning strike twice for Ireland in Malmö?

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionRyan Dolan - Ireland's Eurovision entry, 2013. Footage: Late Late Show, RTÉ

One was a heartfelt power ballad; the other is a dance track featuring two topless bodhrán drum players.

But Ireland's 1992 and 2013 Eurovision songs share a common thread - the city of Malmö and two singers from Strabane, County Tyrone.

Back in 1992, Linda Martin took the Eurovision crown for Ireland in Sweden after belting out a performance of the ballad, Why Me?

She is hoping that history will repeat itself for fellow Strabane singer, Ryan Dolan, this year.

Sweden's second city is playing host to the Eurovision Song Contest this week.

It is just the second time Malmö has hosted Eurovision and the last time the convoy rolled into town, Ireland was victorious.

Martin's victory came near the start of a winning streak for Ireland - there were only two years between 1990 and 1996 when the country did not win the Eurovision Song Contest.

Image caption Topless bodhrán players put a new spin on the traditional Irish goatskin drum.

Staging the show is not cheap and jokes began to circulate about Ireland not being able to afford to win again. An episode of Father Ted picked up on the mood with a special Craggy Island euro song - the deliberately awful "My Lovely Horse" - put forward because Ireland could not afford another Eurovision.

This year's hopeful, Ryan Dolan, remembers those years well.

Ryan, 27, from Strabane, County Tyrone, watched the competition as a boy.

"Every year we would get together and watch and support Ireland," he said.

"Especially back in the 90s when Ireland did really well, there was a big buzz around Ireland and everyone really enjoyed it."

His song for Malmö is no Father Ted-style one-chord wonder. He has written a dance track with a strong beat.

Ryan, a former window-fitter, began singing four years ago. He performed in Tuesday night's semi-final and was one of ten acts to make it through to the final on Saturday.

If anyone knows how big the pressure is, it is Linda Martin.

She is in Malmö backing Ryan with advice and support.

"Top of the list has to be communication with a TV camera," she said.

"It is probably families that are going to be watching this and they're looking for an evening's entertainment. It is like a crash course in show business."

Image caption Dream team? Ryan Dolan with two-time Eurovision veteran, Linda Martin.

For Linda Martin, the return to Malmö is a "sentimental journey" and a "trip down memory lane".

Asked about Ryan's chances, she said she would be "very happy" with a top-ten finish on Saturday night.

The best betting odds at present are on Danish entrant Emmelie de Forest to win.

UK representative Bonnie Tyler will not compete until Saturday. The UK is one of the "Big Five" countries - also including France, Germany, Spain and Italy - who do not have to take part in semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Ryan's fingers will be tightly crossed that the vote gets out in his home town of Strabane.

"I do hope that Northern Ireland gets behind Ryan," Linda Martin said. "You can vote for him - spread the word."

More on this story