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Hilltown’s link to Dana and other local Eurovision stars

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Hilltown’s link to Dana and other local   Eurovision stars thumbnail

ON Saturday (13 May) the Eurovision Song Contest final will take place in Kiev, Ukraine.
The first contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland in 1956 when seven counties took part, each with two songs. The United Kingdom first entered the contest in 1957, while Ireland made its debut in 1965.
Ireland's first victory came on 21 March, 1970 when 18-year-old schoolgirl Dana (Rosemary Brown) performed 'All Kinds of Everything' in Amsterdam. In honour of her victory, at a meeting of Newry No. 1 Rural District Council, held on Thursday, 26 March 1970, it was proposed by Councillor J. Matthews, seconded by Mr E.T. Brady, that the housing estate at Rostrevor Road, Hilltown should be named 'Dana Place'.
A special reception was held at the Ardmore Hotel, Newry and the INF Hall, Hilltown, was packed when Dana performed there in April 1970. It was at the Ardmore Hotel reception that Dana first met the hotel's managing director, Damien Scallon. In October 1978, Dana married the hotelier and for a time they lived in Rostrevor.
As a result of Dana's victory, Ireland was the host for Eurovision in 1971. The UK entrant was Clodagh Rodgers. Clodagh grew up in Warrenpoint and was a pupil at St Mary's High School, Newry (which she revisited for a BBC programme in 2001).
Her family owned a drapery shop in Warrenpoint, while her father, Louis, was a theatrical agent and dancehall show promoter who brought English and American artistes over to venues across Ireland. Among the big acts he brought to Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s were Eddie Calvert, Alma Cogan, Hank Locklin and Tom Jones, as well as Joe Frazier, the world heavyweight champion, who played a number of concerts with his band, 'The Knockouts'.
Thanks to her father's connections, Clodagh began, from the age of 12, to appear as an opening or supporting act for more established stars such as Michael Holliday and Jim Reeves.
In 1962 Clodagh signed with Decca Records and moved to England to pursue a career in music. She made her BBC television debut on the 'Adam Faith' Show in September 1962 and appeared in 1963 musical films 'Just for Fun' and 'It's All Over Town'. In 1968 she married John Morris, who became her manager, and collaborating with producer and songwriter Kenny Young her singles 'Come Back and Shake Me' and 'Goodnight Midnight' were both top five hits, making Clodagh the best-selling female singles artist of 1969.
Following this success, Clodagh was chosen by the BBC to represent the UK at Eurovision. Early in 1971 she performed six songs on the 'It's Cliff Richard' show, from which 'Jack in the Box' was selected. Clodagh's sister, Lavinia, accompanied her to the Eurovision final, held in the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, where she was one of Clodagh's backing vocalists. Watching the programme on television in her Newry home in Aileen Terrace was Clodagh's 86-year-old grandmother, Mrs Roseanne Mulvey.
Appearing for Ireland in the 1971 contest was 19-year-old chemist's assistant, Angela Farrell, from Portadown, who sang 'One Day Love'. Angela's singing talent had earlier been recognised in Newry, when she won top Junior Prize at the Killeavy 'Spot the Star' Contest held in Cloghogue Parochial Hall in 1967.
At Eurovision, though, she finished in 11th place, while Clodagh ended up fourth. Clodagh continued recording and touring, and appeared in musical theatre, television shows and pantomimes, for instance, she was 'Cinderella' to Ronnie Corbett's 'Buttons' at the London Palladium.
In 1986 Newry band, Luv Bug, became the first Northern group to represent the Republic of Ireland in Eurovision. The five-piece group included Newry siblings Hugh, June and Max Cunningham, along with Ricky Meyler from Omagh and female drummer, Majella Grant from Newry. The band which had been established in 1977 was accompanied to the Eurovision final in Norway by their manager Michael Magill from Warrenpoint. As with Clodagh, the Luv Bug song ('You Can Count On Me') ended up in fourth place.
The compositions of Newry songwriters have also appeared at Eurovision, representing Ireland. In 1998 Gerry Morgan's 'Is Always Over Now?' was sung by Dundalk hairdresser, Dawn Martin, while in 2001 Newry Ulsterbus worker, Pat Sheridan, penned the ballad 'Without Your Love' which was performed by Gary O'Shaughnessy.

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