The Irish national selection for the 2017 Junior Eurovision Song Contest has kicked off. Irish broadcaster TG4 has revealed that the heats of the selection for 2017 will air starting in October. As in previous editions, 32 singers will compete over five weeks, where a panel of judges will select the next Irish representative for Junior Eurovision.
Over the summer prospective candidates took part in live auditions, the biggest number to date, where they performed original songs written in the Irish language. Over five shows the final 32 will be whittled down to just one winner, Ireland's third representative at Junior Eurovision.
Junior Eurovision Eire 2017 will be hosted by DJ Eoghan McDermott, while the resident judges, Fiachna Ó Braonáin (Hot House Flowers - Eurovision Interval Act in 1988 with Don't Go) and Bláthnaid Treacy, will be joined by a guest judge from Ireland’s Eurovision past. The guest judges will be Dustin the Turkey (2008), Jedward (2011, 2012), Brian Kennedy (2006), Niamh Kavanagh (1993, 2010 - pictured below), Linda Martin (1984, 1992) and Brendan Murray (2017).
First Semi-Final – 22nd October
Second Semi-Final – 29th October
Third Semi-Final – 5th November
Fourth Semi-Final – 12th November
Irish Final – 19th November
All shows will be broadcast on Sundays at 21:00 CET.
As in previous years, the Irish selection was recorded and the Irish representative at Junior Eurovision 2017 has already been selected, but it will be kept a secret until the broadcast of the final show. According to our spies at TG4, the act is amazing and can even play their own instruments! The Irish delegation are currently working on the look and feel of the entry, including lighting, stage design and costumes. The information about the act will be submitted to the EBU to meet the contest deadline but you'll have to wait until 19th November to find out who is flying the flag for Ireland in Tbilisi!
Last year Zena Donnelly represented Ireland at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest with the song Bríce Ar Bhríce (Brick by Brick). Zena achieved Ireland's best result to date in the competition which was held in Valletta, Malta. Since then she has participated in The Voice Kids and is one of the final three finalists in RTE's Voices of Angels competition. Voting closed on Thursday 23rd August and the chosen winner will perform live on stage with Celtic Woman at their 3Arena show in Dublin on Saturday 2nd September, which will be filmed in a new television special by PBS for broadcast across America later this year.
Who will follow on Zena's footsteps? Tune in on Sunday 22nd October to meet the first hopefuls!