Bray People - - NEWS - By DEB­O­RAH COLE­MAN

BALTINGLASS singer song­writer Mark ‘Cappy’ Caplice re­turned home from Euro­vi­sion 2018 with a heart full of pride on Sun­day after what he de­scribed as a ‘roller­coaster of a week’ with the ‘ high­est highs, the low­est lows’ and some of the most ‘ beau­ti­ful mo­ments’ of his life.

As the co-writer of the Ir­ish en­try ‘ To­gether’, Mark formed part of the na­tional con­tin­gent which at­tended this year’s Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test in Lis­bon.

After qual­i­fy­ing for the fi­nal fol­low­ing a tense semi-fi­nal last Tues­day night, the Ir­ish en­try made in­ter­na­tional head­lines after China de­cided to edit the two male dancers out of singer Ryan O’Shaugh­nessy’s per­for­mance due to what they branded ‘ ho­mo­sex­ual con­tent’. The move was widely con­demned and led to wide­spread sup­port of and in­ter­est in the Ir­ish en­try, which was the third favourite to win when the fi­nal aired on Satur­day night.

‘So many peo­ple came up to us and said that Ire­land made the Euro­vi­sion this year. We had so many mes­sages of sup­port, in­clud­ing from one per­son in Rus­sia who is in the LGBT com­mu­nity and said that we gave him hope and strength. It is so, so sad to think that a per­son liv­ing in a coun­try where it is il­le­gal to be gay is ter­ri­fied to re­veal their true feel­ings. To hear that we gave them hope is a beau­ti­ful thing. Love is love,’ Mark said.

From start to fin­ish, Mark said that the Euro- vi­sion jour­ney was an un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence, which now, as he sits at home in Baltinglass, feels some­what sur­real.

‘I woke up in my own bed on Mon­day morn­ing and it was lovely, but I thought “did that ac­tu­ally hap­pen?” It was so sur­real. I am so in­cred­i­bly proud to have been a part of it and my heart is smil­ing from shoul­der to shoul­der. Hear­ing our song sung by 22,000 peo­ple in the arena was the most in­tense beauty that I can re­call and it’s a long way from the song we wrote in a lit­tle room in Dublin,’ he said.

Mark ad­mit­ted that he was mo­men­tar­ily dis­ap­pointed by Ire­land’s 16th place fin­ish, de­spite the fact that it was the first song to make it through to the fi­nals in five years.

‘Straight after, I was gut­ted but it would be fool­ish to al­low my­self to be so sor­row­ful in such a beau­ti­ful mo­ment. I just had to re­con­fig­ure my head. We went out, had a great night with the whole team and lots of fam­ily and friends. We couldn’t have asked for bet­ter,’ he said.

The sup­port from home was some­thing that touched Mark and his Ir­ish team mates deeply.

‘ The mes­sages were phe­nom­e­nal. Every time I replied to 20, another 50 popped up on my phone. It was un­real and I am so grate­ful for the sup­port and love. I have never been more proud to call my­self an Ir­ish­man,’ he said.

Mark said he will now be tak­ing time to process the events of the past week be­fore mov­ing on to his next ad­ven­ture.

Mark ‘Cappy’ Caplice (right) cel­e­brat­ing with Ryan O’Shaugh­nes­say and the rest of the Ir­ish del­e­ga­tion after they qual­i­fied for the fi­nal.

Ryan O’Shaugh­nessy per­form­ing ‘To­gether’ with his dancers. Mark’s par­ents, Deirdre and Pat Caplice, watch­ing the fi­nal in Ho­ran’s on Satur­day.

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