Despite Ireland's first ever last place at a Eurovision Song Contest final last Saturday, plenty of Irish television viewers were at hand to commiserate and curse from the armchair, as viewing figures remained strong with a slight increase on 2006.
Saturday's final in Helsinki was watched by over 780,000 Irish viewers, which is marginally higher than last year's figures. This corresponds to an impressive 53% of the viewership in Ireland, which means that over half of the available audience had tuned in to support Dervish. The total compares very favourably with several other Western European countries' figures, notably France, Denmark and Norway.
However, reactions are unsettled with talk of a "hijacking" of the Irish televote by the country's immigrant population doing the rounds in the Irish press currently. Lithuania received a whopping douze points from Ireland, picking up little from elsewhere. William Kenny, of bookmaker William Hill, summed up the current mood by suggesting "these days, you have to be either mad as a hatter or Eastern European".
As Ireland faces the semifinal in 2008, it remains to be seen whether the Eurovision magic holds fast for the irish.