The 15th annual Junior Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Tbilisi, Georgia next week – and while Ardee teenager Logan McConnon won’t be representing Ireland at the prestigious competition – his sights are now firmly set on his upcoming run in The Olympia Christmas Panto, starring alongside comedian Al Porter.
Rehearsals are now well underway for the popular annual panto in Dublin’s city centre but this month could have been very different for Logan, had he qualified through the Junior Eurovision Ireland competition, held last May but broadcast on TG4 over the last four weeks.
If you were flicking through the television during the evening of last Sunday week, you might have recognised Logan’s face. The 14-year-old had qualified through a gruelling audition process to make the last 32 of the national competition to find Ireland’s 2017 Junior Eurovision entrant. He took part in the third of four semi-final heats ahead of the final, which will be shown on TG4 this weekend.
Having to compose and perform a song of his own, the process to reach the televised stage was a difficult one and while he didn’t win through to present Ireland in Tbilisi, Logan told ThisIsArdee.ie this week he is very proud of his efforts.
“It’s my own song. It was a really long process, ” said. “But the song took me an hour to write. I came home one day from school and I had some chords and I was strumming along, seeing what I came up with. I came up with some lyrics and that was it. The first draft – an hour to write the song isn’t bad!”
While he was excited to be able to sit down and watch himself on the show – hosted by Eoghan McDermott and with Blathnaid Treacy and Brian Kennedy amongst the judges – he had a long wait to do so. The shows were all recorded in May but only shown now, leading up to the main event in Georgia.
“The show was recorded ages and ages and ages ago. It feels like I just did it, probably because I watched it on TV. I was excited to watch it on TV, I was buzzing,” Logan explains. “That was the first time I had sat down and was excited. It was something I had done, it was my song. I was really proud.”
Dad Jay – who also saw Logan perform in the children’s cast of Big: The Musical at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre last Christmas – explained that because the show was being shown on TG4, everything the contestants did had to be translated, as gaelige. That proved tough.
“He wrote the lyrics but we had to find somebody to produce a backing track. It sounds a lot nicer in English than it does in Irish because it gets lost in translation. We had to get in translated and phonetically, you have to look at that,” he told us.
“That was a big challenge, it was a toughie,” Logan adds. “I had the words and had gotten used to the words, singing in English. Then I had to get used to singing it in Irish. But after I got used to it and did the second round auditions, they came back and said we needed to change A, B and C because it didn’t sound right. I found that hard.”
Jay continues: “We had to go back and change the backing track because the timing was wrong. It’s a long road. We were very lucky. Some of the other groups and singers that were in it, they had to go back to the drawing board. It was a nice journey to go along. Even though it was long and tough, it showed the whole inside of the way things are done. How much work goes into it.”
Admitting that he’s not the biggest fan of Irish in school, the teenager explains that while the task of getting his song, Slan Leat, to sound as right in Gaelige as did in English was tough, he enjoyed the end result.
“It is a little bit difficult – it isn’t my first language and I’m not speaking it the entire time. But I like doing it. I like having a song in a different language that I knew. Because, you don’t know many.”
Recording the show six months ago, Logan says the experience was “amazing” and “class.” Amongst tough competition, he was unable to progress through his semi-final but he received some very high praise from the judging panel – even if he could have done without a seemingly inevitable Justin Bieber comparison!
Now, The Olympia Panto – also starring Porter and Dustin the Turkey – awaits. “I started rehearsals about two weeks ago, for the entire week. It’s a better way to spend your mid-term than going home, sitting down and playing xBox,” Logan says. “I can’t wait!”
Balancing rehearsing, shows, travelling and school work is no mean feat for the youngster, but the second-year pupil in Ardee Community School is thoroughly enjoying his busy schedule, just as he did last year. Christmas is often the busiest and most hectic time of the year for most families – but for the McConnon’s it’s a whole other level of chaotic. A chaos they look forward to.
A stage performer since the age of nine, Logan is well used to the spotlight by now regardless.