Joe McCaul who along with his sister Donna finished in 14th position in the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest with their entry Love? has spoken candidly to The Independent Newspaper in Ireland of the torrent of abuse he was subjected to after they were knocked out of the song contest -saying that the experience ruined his teens and left him 'broken inside'.
Fresh out of RTE's Failte Towers programme, the bubbly young singer described how he was spat at on the street and regularly suffered physical and verbal abuse as a result of his poor placement in the song contest. The 20-year-old Athlone man also said he regrets taking part in the song contest because of the hassle it caused for him and his family afterwards. Speaking as he embarked on a career re-launch that will see him feature in the role of Tickles in The Sleeping Beauty pantomime in the Helix this November, Mr McCaul said: If I'd known what the Eurovision was going to bring, I wouldn't have gone, not in a million years. It wasn't worth the hassle afterwards. I went over thinking it was great. I was only 17 years old and I had the world at my feet and I thought nothing could go wrong, but boy, was I wrong." "I've had people spit on me. I'd be walking by and they'd spit on my shoe or on the ground beside me and I'd have to kind of hold myself up. My friends were very loyal and they used to end up in fights trying to protect me from physical and verbal abuse. I was broken, broken inside.
He continued: It was quite tough, especially on my family. It got very personal. I would literally be walking down the street in my home town afterwards and people would be roaring nasty things out the window, saying: 'You were f**king sh**e', not only in Athlone but in other towns as well. "They'd be saying: 'Oh there's that pair from the Eurovision, they disgraced the country'. And it was constant. There used to be times when I used to go out and say: 'If I didn't do that bloody contest I could just go up the town and get drunk and go home', but it didn't happen that way. "I can think of a few low points but I don't want to go into it right now. It's something I'm trying to forget.
However,Joe McCaul moved to rubbish reports that he attempted suicide last year when he had to be pulled out of a stretch of the river Shannon near his home.It was nice out that evening and I decided to have a few drinks. Myself and my friends were out on a jetty by the water and we weren't messing or anything. I was sitting on the jetty and I literally just fell in, I don't know how it happened but I can't swim. I had to be brought to hospital for hypothermia. I could've drowned but thank God I didn't.
Healso described how he believes entering the competition led to both him and his sister being taken advantage of, while at the same time he feels it stunted his education. I think I was taken advantage of in certain aspects. I don't know how much money people made from us; we didn't see much of it anyway. In total I think we made about €15,000 each. I think we should have gotten more but we didn't. Speaking about his regret at putting his singing career before his education, he said: I didn't get to finish my Leaving Cert either because I had to drop out of school. I was five months out of my final year because there was so much hype around the competition; we had to be up five days a week. I feel annoyed about not finishing school. I would have liked to have gone to college to do psychotherapy and counselling or musical theatre. But who knows, maybe in the future.