By Michelle Devane, PA
A north Dublin town has come out in force to support its home-grown star as she bids to win Eurovision for Ireland for the first time in 25 years.
Lesley Roy will perform Maps in the first semi-final of the competition on Tuesday night at Rotterdam’s Ahoy venue – and locals in Balbriggan are behind her all the way.
Children from her old primary school, St Oliver’s in nearby Balrothery, have come out in force to send rallying messages to the songstress.
In a video response, Roy, 34, said: “Thanks so much… it was so nice to get that while I’m here in Rotterdam working on rehearsals, getting ready for the big night.
“I hope I can come home and maybe perform for you guys during the summer. Watch us next week, here we go Ireland.”
Principal Mairead Murphy said she and other staff members remember Roy and her sister, Shauna, from their time in the school.
“We are very proud that we are connected with Lesley and we wish her all the best in the Eurovision,” Ms Murphy said.
People of Europe it’s time to start talking votes!!!! I will be performing in semi final 1 on May 18th , song 7, Ireland!!! Let’s do this!! Share and spread 🇮🇪 #onlyonewaytogo pic.twitter.com/PeZ8RaXgR8
— lesley roy (@lesleyroyreal) May 15, 2021
Roy was just nine when Ireland last won Eurovision with Eimear Quinn’s The Voice in 1996.
If she makes it through Tuesday’s contest, she will then battle it out in the grand final four days later.
Last year, the pandemic deprived her of her chance of Eurovision glory – but she is back with her new song, which recently premiered on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show and has amassed almost a million views on YouTube.
The prolific songwriter has had top 10 success in the US with songs she has written for artists including Katy Perry, Adam Lambert and Miss Montreal.
#OurBalbriggan and @Fingalcoco are proud to support Lesley Roy, Ireland's Eurovision song contestant. Catch the Semi Final, Tuesday, May 18th 💙💛@EVENTSinFingal @lesleyroyreal pic.twitter.com/xaWf1QNXBK
— Our Balbriggan (@OurBalbriggan) May 15, 2021
The Irish Institute of Music and Song (IIMS), which is headquartered in Balbriggan, is running a competition to mark her success.
Co-founder Donal Kearney said: “We are inviting members of the public to record a cover version of Maps to be in with a chance of winning a free song-writing tutorial and personalised song-writing session with Lesley.
“Lesley is currently the artist in residence here and previous IIMS artists in residence include cast members of the hit musical Hamilton.
“To enter, send a video of your version of Maps to firstname.lastname@example.org before the Eurovision grand final on Saturday May 22nd.”
— lesley roy (@lesleyroyreal) May 10, 2021
An image of Roy has been beamed on to the courthouse in the middle of the town.
Fingal Mayor David Healy said the people of Balbriggan and Fingal are immensely proud of the singer’s career and achievements.
“I am certain that all of Balbriggan will be glued to their televisions on Tuesday night to see Lesley represent Ireland and we wish her the very best,” he said.
Emer O’Gorman, Fingal County Council’s director of economic, enterprise, tourism and cultural development, described Roy as “a vibrant symbol of all that Balbriggan, Ireland’s youngest and most diverse town, has to offer”, adding she is a “great inspiration” to everybody.
Although now based in Manhattan in New York, the singer grew up in the town and honed her musical skills as a teenager there before landing a record deal with Sony.